Noel Streatfeild
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Adults' Fiction

After the War

As soon as the War was over, Noel found a new home: 51A Elizabeth Street, near Chester Square and Buckingham Palace Road.

In 1947, her agent suggested that she might go to America to do research for a book with a film background. After the hardships of England during the war, Noel delighted in the beauties of California. She attended the studios where a film of The Secret Garden was being made, and was impressed by the professionalism of the child star, Margaret O'Brien. This research formed the basis of The Painted Garden.

By the end of the War, Noel's close friendship with Daphne Ionides had faded, leaving a gap in her life. However, in the late 1940s this was replaced by a new friendship - Margot Grey. Margot owned a house on the coast, and they "arranged that Margot should live at 51A Elizabeth Street during the winter, and Noel would be free to stay at Hythe as much as she wished during the summer" (Bull, 1984:197). With Margot, Noel was also able to fulfil one of her long held desires. She had always loved dogs, but with the amount of travelling she did, she had not been able to own one. Now she was able to share one with Margot, who would be able to look after him when she was away. Together, they bought a black miniature poodle, Pierre.

Noel became increasingly concerned by the mediocre quality of most children's books, and in 1949 she began delivering lectures, and writing reviews and articles, on the subject. Unlike the lectures she had been invited to give after the publication of Ballet Shoes, Noel had now conducted extensive research in to the subject. She was far better informed than in the 1930s, when she had relied largely on the books she remembered reading as a child. She felt very strongly that books "were like doors, opening onto different worlds. It was vital for children that the worlds should be beautiful, truthful, and, in the best sense, magical" (Bull, 1984:193). Children, she felt, were being let down by publishers, reviewers and bookshop owners, who provided no guidance on distinguishing the good books from the poor ones.

In 1949, Noel expanded her children's writing into a new medium - radio. Ballet Shoes had been dramatised and broadcast in 1947, and Noel had approached May Jenkin, the Head of Children's Hour, and said that she would like to write something specifically for the radio, about a totally ordinary family. The six-part Bell Family serials ran every year from 1949 to 1953, and were frequently voted top play of the year.


Noel Streatfeild's Life


World War One


First Novels

First Children's Books

World War Two

After the War

A National Monument

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