Patricia Pakenham-Walsh

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(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Patricia Moyes was born Patricia Pakenham-Walsh in Dublin, Ireland, on January 19, 1923, to Ernst Pakenham-Walsh and Marion Boyd Pakenham-Walsh. By the age of eight Patricia (known as Penny) had decided to become a writer, and from 1934 to 1939, when she attended the Overstone School, a girls’ boarding academy, her writing skills drew attention and encouragement. She also revealed a gift for languages and became fluent in French, Italian, and other languages. When World War II began in 1939, she lied about her age to join the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), where she worked until 1945 as a flight officer and radar controller.

Moyes’s next job was working as a technical adviser to the film director and producer Peter Ustinov from 1945 to 1953. She was chosen for the position because Ustinov needed someone with writing ability and knowledge about radar. An eager student, she learned about the film industry from the bottom up. In 1951 she married John Moyes, a photographer, and changed her name to Patricia Moyes, the name she would use throughout her career as a novelist. In 1954 she became an assistant editor for Vogue magazine, writing a monthly column titled “Shophound.” During this period, Moyes crafted an English translation of a French play by Jean Anouilh, which had a successful run in London and on Broadway, earning Moyes enough money to quit the magazine and move to Switzerland. She and her husband divorced in 1959.

Moyes was an excellent sailor and skier, but it was a skiing accident, which laid her up for some months, that gave her the incentive to write her first mystery novel, Dead Men Don’t Ski, featuring the neophyte skiers Chief Inspector Henry Tibbett of Scotland Yard and his wife, Emmy, a multilingual veteran of the WAAF. Dead Men Don’t Ski would become the first novel in Moyes’s Inspector Henry Tibbett series, the author’s primary occupation over the next three decades.

In 1963 Moyes married James Haszard, an interpreter and lawyer working in the Netherlands at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Haszard shared her passions for sailing and skiing, and the two of them settled into a life that included travel, gourmet dining, and the restoration of an eighteenth century house on the...

(The entire section is 570 words.)