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.
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