The World’s Oldest Romance Novelist Passes Away At 105
by Jill Pantozzi | 4:15 pm, December 9th, 2013
Ida Pollock was her name, though you may have known her by one of her many pseudonyms – Joan M. Allen, Susan Barrie, Jane Beaufort, Rose Burghley, or Marguerite Bell. Whatever name you knew her by, she was the oldest romance novelist and she passed away last week at the impressive age of 105. And boy, did she lead an interesting life.
Pollock actually had several more pen names in her time, Pamela Kent, Averil Ives, Anita Charles, Barbara Rowan, Mary Whistler. She also went by her given name, Ida Crowe, and put out an impressive 120 published works. She was a founding member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association in the 60s and was named honorary vice-president on her 105th birthday.
“Daughter Rosemary Pollock — also a romance novelist — said the writer died Dec. 3 at a nursing home near her house in Lanreath, southwest England,” according to the Associated Press. “Born in London in 1908 and raised by a single mother, Pollock had her first stories published while she was in her teens, and went on to write scores of books under almost a dozen pseudonyms. Her output included some 70 ‘bodice-rippers’ for romance publisher Mills & Boon, the British arm of Harlequin Enterprises.”
Pollock’s life sounds much like a thrilling novel, certainly one that would make for a very interesting film. Her wikipedia page cites her conception as the result of her mother’s affair with a Russian Duke. As if that wasn’t dramatic enough, she supposedly, “narrowly escaped being smothered with a pillow by the nurse who attended her birth” and survived an explosion at her mother’s house when she was older. She took a solo trip to Morocco as a teen after having a mental breakdown, worked at a girls’ hostel in London during the blitz of World War II, and took up writing full time when her husband went bankrupt in the 50s.
Pollock’s daughter said she was most at home, and most herself when she was writing. She even penned a memoir in 2009 called Starlight. At the time of her death, Pollock still had two unpublished novels. They are set for release next year.