Monica Dickens Biography
(1915–92), One Pair of Hands, One Pair of Feet, My Turn to Make the Tea
British novelist, born in London, educated at St Paul's Girls' School. During the 1930s she detached herself from her middle-class background and worked as a maid and a cook, an interlude providing the material for her first book, the lightly satirical autobiography One Pair of Hands (1939). Her earlier works include two further autobiographies, One Pair of Feet (1942), concerning her training as a nurse at the start of the Second World War, and My Turn to Make the Tea (1951), which draws on her experiences in journalism. Much of her fiction has a documentary aspect. The Fancy (1943) is directly informed by her wartime work in an aircraft factory, while No More Meadows (1953) and Man Overboard (1958) have a basis in her husband's career as an officer in the United States Navy. From the early 1960s onward, her novels assume a more serious sociological character. The Heart of London (1961) is a treatment of alcoholic destitution. She liaised closely with the NSPCC in researching child-abuse as the subject of Kate and Emma (1964). The Listeners (1970) reflects her work with the Samaritans, whose American branches she founded in 1974. Her numerous other novels include Cobbler's Dream (1963), Enchantment (1989), and Scarred (1991). An Open Book (1978) is a third volume of autobiography.