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Enid Bagnold (Enid Algerine Bagnold) Biography

(1889–1981), (Enid Algerine Bagnold), A Diary Without Dates, The Happy Foreigner, National Velvet, The Squire

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British novelist and playwright, born in Rochester; she spent her childhood in Jamaica, and was educated at Prior Field, Godalming, a progressive English boarding school. She became a student of Walter Sickert and later worked as a journalist for Frank Harris with whom she had an affair. A Diary Without Dates (1917), recording her experiences as an ambulance driver during the First World War, formed the background of her first novel, The Happy Foreigner (1920). In 1920 she married Sir Roderick Jones, Chairman of Reuters, and established an artistic salon which included Gaudier Brzeska, H. G. Wells, Vita Sackville-West, and Rudyard Kipling. Her children's book National Velvet (1935) became a classic after it was filmed in 1944 with Elizabeth Taylor playing the role of the girl who wins the Grand National on a horse that she won in a raffle. Other novels include The Squire (1928), about a stoic mother awaiting the birth of her fifth child while her husband is abroad; Serena Blandish (1924), which was adapted for the stage by S. N. Behrman; and The Loved and Envied (1951), whose central character is based on Lady Diana Cooper. Her dramatic works include Lottie Dundass (1943), Poor Judas (1951), and The Chinese Prime Minister (1964); but none scored the success of The Chalk Garden (1955), about a mysterious governess with a criminal past who rescues a troubled girl from a sterile life with her eccentric grandmother. This was described by Kenneth Tynan as perhaps ‘the finest artificial comedy to have flowed from an English … pen since the death of Congreve’. Her autobiography appeared in 1964 and in 1976.

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