Diana Raymond (1916-2009) wrote 24 novels, as well as theatre criticism and poetry.
The early years
In common with many of her generation, Diana lost her father during the First World War. He was killed at Passchendaele a year after she was born. An only child, she was educated at Cheltenham Ladies’ College thanks to financial assistance from the Officers’ Families Fund.
As a young woman, she was encouraged in her writing by her cousin, the novelist Pamela Frankau. Diana became a published author aged 20, with her novel The Door Stood Open. She published a further two novels under her maiden name, Diana Young.
Diana worked in Whitehall both before and during the Second World War. At the Committee of Imperial Defence she was personal assistant to General Ismay, who was to become Winston Churchill’s chief military assistant.
In 1939, Diana leaned out of the window of her Whitehall office to see Neville Chamberlain give his “Peace for our time” speech. She later recounted to her family that she knew then that war was inevitable.
During the war, she worked at the Ministry of Food, with which she was evacuated to Colwyn Bay, before returning to London in 1940 to marry the acclaimed author Ernest Raymond (perhaps best known for Tell England and We, The Accused). The couple had a son, Peter.
A writer’s life
Before her death, and knowing she was very ill, Pamela Frankau asked Diana to help her finish her novel, Colonel Blessington. Diana completed the book, for which she was given a credit as editor. On publication, a review in The Church Times said: “Miss Raymond must have her share of congratulations for performing a writer’s labour of love for another writer, deftly and unobtrusively. Had we not been told, we should not know that two pens had been at work here.”
The year after their marriage, the Raymonds moved to East Heath Road in Hampstead, a setting Diana used more than once in her books. They remained there for the rest of their lives.
She told Contemporary Writers: “I would hope that what I write expresses for some people an aspect of their experiences, joys or griefs, that makes them say, ‘Yes! This is what I felt but could never get it into words.’ …”
Read two of the novels of Diana Raymond in exclusive ebook editions from Wyndham Books: