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E. M. Delafield - Biography & Selected Products

Edmée Elizabeth Monica Dashwood, née de la Pasture, and more commonly known as E. M. Delafield, was born in Steyning, Sussex on June 9th, 1890.

Raised in the fading years of the Victorian era with its Empire and strict moral codes Delafield, not yet married at twenty-one, joined a French religious order, in Belgium, that she soon decided was a totally wrong choice for her.

Her next challenge was the horror of the First World War. Delafield decided to take up a position as a nurse in a Voluntary Aid Detachment in Exeter.  It was whilst here that she managed to also write her first novel, Zella Sees Herself. 

With the end of the war new opportunities were sought and she now took up a position for the South-West Region of the Ministry of National Service in Bristol.  With it came enough time to write two more novels: The War Workers (1918) and The Pelicans (1918).

On July 17th, 1919, she married Colonel Arthur Paul Dashwood, OBE, an engineer responsible for building the massive docks at Hong Kong Harbour.  The marriage produced two children; Lionel and Rosamund. That same year her fourth novel, Consequences, was published.

The couple spent their early years as a couple in Malaya but returned to England to live in Croyle, an old house in Kentisbeare, Devon, on the Bradfield estate.

Delafield continued to collect responsibilities and organise whatever she could. At the initial meeting of the Kentisbeare Women's Institute, Delafield was unanimously elected president, and also became a Justice of the Peace, raised the children and, of course, continued to write her novels.

Her greatest works are undoubtedly the largely autobiographical Diary of a Provincial Lady, which is a simply structured journal of the life of an upper-middle class Englishwoman, living mostly in a Devon village of the 1930s.  It spawned several sequels.

After the death of her son in 1940, her health began to markedly decline.

  1. M. Delafield died on December 2nd, 1943. She had collapsed whilst giving a lecture in Oxford. She was 53.