If you have ever wondered about the person who wrote over a hundred books, including the 58 Chalet titles, wonder no more!
Helen McClelland, Elinor's official biographer wrote in 1994:
Elinor M Brent-Dyer (1894 - 1969) published over 100 books, but there is no doubt that she is remembered today mainly for her Chalet School series. This numbers 59 books, with numerous related titles, and it is not only the longest but the longest-surviving series of girls' school-stories ever known, having now been continuously in print for more than 70 years.
The first story, The School at the Chalet, was originally published in 1925; and Elinor's idea of writing about an imaginary school in the beautiful Tirolean lakeside village of Pertisau-am-Achensee grew from a memorable holiday she had spent there, probably in the summer of 1924. Today, this visit is commemorated by a plaque in Pertisau, outside the parish church (nowadays the plaque is found in the library within the Tourist Information Office); and undoubtedly the author's love of the Achensee district always remained important in the creation of her Chalet School books.
She had only one sibling, a beloved younger brother, Henzell, who died tragically aged seventeen, and she came, moreover, from a broken home, her parents having separated when she was barely three.
She attended a small local private school; and on her eighteenth birthday began a teaching career that eventually spanned 36 years, during which she taught in a wide variety of state and private schools, as well as spending two years acquiring a teaching qualification. Many of the schools were situated in the north-east, but Elinor's teaching took her also to Middlesex, Bedfordshire and Hampshire, and finally to Hereford, where she lived from 1933 to 1964 and, for ten years from 1938 to 1948, ran her own school, which she named the Margaret Roper School.
It, like the fictional Chalet School, was non-denominational but with a strong religious tradition, and many Chalet School customs were followed - the girls even wore a similar uniform, made in the Chalet School's colours of brown and flame!
However, Elinor was not really suited to being a headmistress, being far too erratic and flamboyant in temperament. After her school closed she was able to devote more time to writing, which was always her greatest life-time interest. Nevertheless, she has left affectionate memories with many people, including a number of former pupils.
From an early age, Elinor had shown ability as a writer, and among her 101 published books are stories of schools other than the Chalet School; family, historical, adventure and animal stories; a cookery book, and four educational geography-readers. She also wrote plays, some of which were performed at local theatres, and numerous unpublished poems. See the Library section for more about her published works.
Elinor was renowned for untidiness, and was considered eccentric in dress, appearance and manner. One old friend described her as 'Not at all pretty but. (with) a very mobile and expressive countenance'; another as 'dottily humorous.a very kind and generous woman. a fount of good common sense'.
Her final years were spent at Redhill in Surrey where she died on 20 September 1969. A headstone on her grave in Redstone Cemetery was specially commissioned by fans and erected in 1994, the year of the centenary of her birth.
Elinor M Brent-Dyer's Chalet School books have remained amazingly popular with around 100,000 paperback copies still being sold each year up to around 2001. Many of the titles are still in print today, thanks to Girls Gone By Publishers: www.ggbp.co.uk .
When was Elinor Brent-Dyer born?
Did Elinor Brent-Dyer go to a school like the Chalet School?
Was Elinor Brent-Dyer's family like the Maynards?
When did she die?
The Spring 2019 Journal (no 83) is being posted over the next few days. Also included is a special supplement with memories of our late editor, Joy Wotton.
For those who are interested, the journal and supplement have been made availble for downloading in the Member pages. The password has been updated, if you do not have it please contact the membership secretary on email@example.com
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