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Sunday, 30 August 2009

Dorothy Eileen Marsh Heming

Owen Dudley Edwards has failed to uncover the story of this strange writer who produced over 120 books in twelve years before dying young at 48 years old. He refers only to Marise Flies South (1944) although he does talk about the 'impressively professional series' [222]. The biography/bibliography is Among Her Own People: Lives and Literature of Eileen Marsh, Jack Heming and Bracebridge Heming by Eric Bates (Bulman Lee Publishing, Ashford [bulman_lee@beeb.net], ISBN 0-9551014-0-9. I have a collection of about 60 titles.

Eileen Marsh wrote under many names often combining her real names Dorothy Eileen Heming (nee Marsh) or using other family names. She published 7 titles in 1936, 4 as Eileen Marsh, and one each of Dorothy Carter, Martin Kent and D.E. Marsh. Of the twelve titles in 1937, 5 were by Eileen Marsh, 2 by D.E. Marsh, and one each by James Cahill, Guy Demster, Martin Kent, Elizabeth Rogers and E M Shard. 1938 added John Annerley, D.E. Heming, Dempster Heming to two Martin Kents, and one D.E Marsh, Eileen Marsh and Elizabeth Rogers. . Altogether there were 26 by Eileen Marsh, 14 by Dorothy Carter, 9 by Elizabeth Rogers, 8 by Guy Dempster (bloodthirsty boys' war stuff) , 6 by Martin Kent, 6 by D.E. Marsh, and smaller numbers for the rest. She also wrote adult novels, and Sunday School prizes for Lutterworth, using Eileen Heming, Dorothy Marsh, James Cahill, Rupert Jardine, Jane Rogers and Mary St. Helier. This was quite a varied output for girls, boys and adults. She specialised in writing about flying and war adventure, and set them in England, Canada, Africa, USA and even up the Himalayas. She herself could not fly (though she had flying contacts and had a few flying lessons after writing several books; and had never visited many of these places: she wrote at home bringing up five children. Her husband also wrote, but was interrupted by the war. He used her pseudonyms from time to time after her death.

Eileen Marsh wrote her life story as fiction, in A Woman's Life where she describes a woman and husband writers who were advised to write aeroplane stories as the modern thing. Her routine was three hours writings while the children were in school, or 5000 words per day. The first books, under the signature D.E. Marsh were for boys, her Eileen Marsh signature starting with her girl flier books, of which Jonquil is the easiest to find. She states her payment per book as £50. In all, she wrote 120 books between 1935 and 1948, under 16 names, for girls, boys and adults.

ODE notes (p.229 fn29) that Dorothy Carter had no books after 1948. In fact The Cruise of the Golden Dawn was published by Latimer House in 1949, just posthumously. North for Treasure came in 1961, published by Lutterworth about the Canadian gold rush. Five genuine Dorothy Carters had been with Lutterworth, the rest with Collins (the first, Flying Dawn, was with A&C Black in 1935. An open question is whether the 1961 title was wholly written by husband Jack, or is a reworking of an unfinished manuscript. A number of pre-war titles were set in Canada, but I have not found any trace in copyright libraries of an earlier version of North of Treasure. Also set in Canada, Ted of the Mounties used the name Eileen Heming (1955) - again was this Jack, or is it a reprint of and earlier genuine title? Eric Bates gives their authorship to Jack; I am open to the possibility that they were written in Canada in the 1930s - Elizabeth Rogers' On Wings and Skis, set  in Canada, was in 1939.

33 comments:

  1. This is the post that attracted me to your blog. I had been hunting for information on Dorothy Carter besides what I found in the Owen Dudley Edwards book and you have supplied me with that, so I just wanted to say thank you.
    I have hunted for a long time for the Marise novels she wrote that take place during the war, but only have acquired Comrades of the Air. I have resigned myself to the fact that I shall probably never find the rest, especially since I am in NY and not England.
    I am also interested in children's literature written during and about WWII, though really novles written for girls. I wrote my dissertation on popular girls' fiction written during and about the Third Reich in Germany. It was an interesting contrast to the American and English girls novels I have read from the same period.
    Anyway, thanks for such an interesting blog and I hope you continue to write on it.
    Kathryn Payne

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    1. This is to let you know that I have just purchased Comrades of the Air, the first copy to come to sale since I started looking in 2005. I hope you are well and have found a few more Eileen Marsh titles.Best wishes, Stephen

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  2. That's for your comment. I don't have Comrades of the Air yet after a 4 year search. I have Sword of the Air and most of the Marise books. Mistress of the Air is commonly advertised, but is pre-war. I wonder if you would be prepared to share your thoughts on your dissertation topic? Maybe it is available on line? I am in regular touch with Owen, by the way and share stuff with him. I am also in touch with the Heming family. Do join the blog and get regular updates. My next post is on Josephine Blackstock from Chicago. Best wishes, Stephen

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  3. The title of my dissertation is "zum Einsatz des Lebens für Deutschland": Girls' Popular Fiction During the Third Reich. My topic was an investigation of the popular fiction which girls living in Nazi Germany read in an attempt to see how current events and policies are reflected in the novels in an effort to acclimatize girls to life under National Socialism and gain their complete support of the Third Reich. Now I am interested in how current events and policies are reflected in girls' fiction of the US and UK as well. I don't know if it is available because I had a one year embargo on it due to copyright permissions. These were taken care of a few weeks ago, so it may be available on UMI's Dissertation Abstracts. I would offer to send a copy, but it is 66mb long (there are pictures.)
    I have heard that Owen Dudley Edwards is a really great guy, but have had no contact myself although I have often thought of writing him.

    I would like to read some of your papers, such as the one Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials and Children's Literature as Pedagogy in World War 2. I have always thought that children's literature, not just fables and fairytales, should be part of the German language programs but they seem to prefer skipping over 1933-1945.

    Best wishes,
    Kathryn

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  4. Look at http://stephenbigger.blogspot.com under publications and you will find several full texts on line. Write to Owen c/o History Department, Edinburgh University. He doesn't do email. Stephen

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  5. I worked with Philip Pullman for 15 years. I don't know if my long piece on HDMs is on-line - it needs reviewing I thing. A job for Christmas.

    The Pedagogy piece only exists as a powerpoint I think

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  6. Your dissertation sounds really interesting. I don't think that's ever been done before. You could try http://www.yousendit.com which can handle 66mb

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. I notice that this link is how to buy and submit a plagiarised dissertation. I do not approve. I mark dissertations and routinely put random sentences into a search engine so see if it has been downloaded. The penalty might be disqualification and loss of degree. Be warned.

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  8. Thank you for this information on Eileen Marsh, she was actually mr great grandma. And her eldest daughetr Elizabeth (my grandma) is still alive ( age 88) She actually had 5 children but Roger died at age 19 in the army.

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  9. Thanks for getting in touch, sam.max4. I have been in touch with Mike Bispham for several years and he often talked about your grandma. Eileen wrote a staggering amount of books in a short time - have have half to two thirds (haven't done a count recently). I haven't written about her in detail partly because of busyness and partly because there is already a book which does the job pretty well. Do check out my other sites on http://stephenbigger.blogspot.com.

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  10. PS sam.max4, I believe that your grandma was the prototype for Wren Helen.

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  11. PPS sam.max4, I wondered where the pen name Elizabeth Rogers came from.

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  12. I have just read this and found it most interesting. I am a children's bookseller, and the information will be very useful for myself and the customers I have that read these books. Thank you for making it available. Heather - Peakirk books

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  13. Hi Heather, You have sold me a book or two - thanks. I originally was going to write a book about children's lit in this period, but decided to make things public in this way. I might consider self-publishing one day. Meantime, family members have come forward to give me hidden details, which is great. See my other writings on http://stephenbigger.blogspot.com. I particularly have specialised on Malcolm Saville.
    Thanks for the good wishes, Stephen

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  14. Hi Stephen
    If you do decide to publish, it may well be worth approaching Girls Gone by - the small publishers who produce this type of thing for an interested audience. They could well be interested! worth a try. Too late for purely Malcolm Saville as alot of work has been done, but a book on the period more generally, with information like this would be very useful and interesting I would have thought. Heather

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  15. Would it be possible to get a list of her books written for adults? I love to read book written before the 60's; I think people didn't rely so much on sex/violence/profanity then.

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  16. I have such a list, but but these books are extremely rare. Only one wartime print-run and some of that bombed out. They all use her real name Eileen Marsh. 'The Unnatural Behaviour of Mrs Hooker' is easier to find than most and may be one to start with using abebooks.co.uk. There is a copy for £10 including postage at the moment. Also as Eileen Heming, she wrote teen stories featuring Joan, Marion or Doris for the Sunday School market - these tended to get reprinted and are easily available.
    PS a real name or nickname is nicer than Anonymous!

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    1. Thank you so much for the info. I am sorry you took the "anonymous" wrong.but I don't have access (nor want) to any of the options under "Reply as." Would Emilia be good enough or do you need my last name?
      :-)

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    2. Hi Emelia, Four years have gone by. How did you get on with your reading of Eileen Marsh/Dorothy Carter books? Best wishes, Stephen

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  17. Hi Emelia, No I didn't take it wrong, yours was a nice comment. And don't give out your surname too readily on the open net. It just means I will recognise you if you comment again. If you find a copy or two do let me know if you like it.

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  18. Great information, thank you - just what I was looking for. As a children's book collector and former aircraft mechanic I was intrigued by the solid aviation themes (not just the usual garnish on otherwise ordinary fare) in the titles I've read and wondered if the author had an aviation background. The reality is even more interesting.

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  19. what have you read? Eileen wrote under so many names. These notes are used by most booksellers now, without royalties, lol! and tell me about the mechanic bit. I write from home, my wife has dementia, so anything to brighten up the day!

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    1. Hi Stephen,

      Before reading 'Jonquil' I had also read (and kept) a Guy Dempster title 'The Airmen of Sheba's Temple' and often said of it to fellow book collectors that the story was a far better description of setting up an air service than it was an adventure about Sheba's temple.

      As for me, I was an aircraft mechanic in the NZ air force for nearly 20 years and though I don't have a huge interest in aircraft now I'm 'retired' from that life, I do tend to pick up aviation themed books from my collecting era (1930s to 1960s). Or possibly I'm just a sucker for aviation cover art.

      I read out an extract from this blog post about Eileen Marsh's pseudonyms and output to my book collecting friends at our recent meeting which is our annual opportunity to recommend books to each other. The editor of our club magazine would like to add some of the stats from your article into my comments about 'Jonquil, Test Pilot' if that be okay with you.

      Jane
      in NZ

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    2. Jane, hope you find this since I can't private message you. Yes, providing that you acknowledge my name and source (the blog address) do use what you need. Sheba was published 6 years after her death and I suspect it was written by husband Jack. Since Jack was off to war, I suspect other Guy Dempster books were planned by Jack and tidied up by Eileen. I have no proof though. Best wishes, Stephen

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  20. Jane, also try http://1930-1960.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/heming-and-marsh-again.html

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  21. Very interesting. Currently a flying instructor I reliving my youth started collecting Bigggles books then all W E John's then my favourite author George Rochester and all aviation
    juvenile fiction. From the Westerman aviation boooks into all the Westerman books. Now currently going for Lawrence Bourne. I would love to see any lists of books for the genre of Juvenile fiction.

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    1. Happy reading. I am struggling to think what Lawrence Bourne's are about aviation. Mostly about boats and ships. Let me know. I have most but not all. You will have seen my Bourne/Harbourn post I am sure.

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    2. No I realize Bourne all marine just I diversified my collection when collecting Westerman (I have about 300 of JFC and PF) now realised thanks to you that I have 40 by the same author albeit with different names. Now I am aware I will look at your Bourne/Harbour post.
      Regards
      Ken

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  22. My posts mention most Marh/Heming books I think

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  23. Should have explained that his real name was Harbourne and he wrote as Lawrence R Bourne. I spoke with a descendent. Was a bit confused by '40 of the same author under different names' - does that mean you have a Marsh/Heming collection? Stephen

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    1. Yes 40 under different names which I did not realise was same author until I saw your blog.

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    2. She wrote 120 in 12 years so be careful, and her husband a few more, some using her names (she died in 1948). I think she was a remarkable woman, bringing up a large family at the same time. Bates' book is impossible to source, I think. It needs reprinting.

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