Biography


(For a full account of Monica Edwards' life see the recently published biography by Brian Parks. Girls Gone By Publishers 2010.
The following account is based on early research and information she gave me when we met. Some of the account is at odds with the facts as Brian discovered in his research. I shall have to edit/correct it sometime !. John )

Monica le Doux Newton was born in Belper, Derbyshire in 1912; the daughter of a country clergyman.

She attended Wakefield High School for Girls before the family moved south to the small fishing village of Rye Harbour on the Sussex coast.
Her brothers and elder sister were placed in education, but somehow the young Monica escaped. For a year or so she 'ran wild' on the marshes and around the little fishing harbour.
She learned to mend nets; went out on the boats with the fishermen, learned to shear sheep at Castle Farm and absorbed the lives of the villagers, the Marsh and the Sea folk around her.
She told me that this wonderful time was brought to an end by a friend of her mother's commenting, "You really should do something about Monica."

So arrangements were made and Monica resumed her interrupted education at St Brandon's Clergy Daughters' School in Bristol.

Young Monica. Click to enlarge
Monica 'on board'
courtesy of the Estate of Monica Edwards
That break in her education had been too long. She was unable to catch up at school. She was too far behind in her subjects. There was 'only English' so she concentrated on that and, as a result she said, writing was 'all she could do'.

She married Bill Edwards, a local man, in Rye Harbour Church in 1933 and they lived for a few years in the marsh country nearby.
Later the family moved to Leicestershire and thence to Send, near Woking. Here the Edwards family, now four with daughter Shelley and son Sean, were living when she published her first book, 'Wish For A Pony'. She had already published articles and verses in a variety of publications and had been, for eight years, the editor of a Correspondence Magazine for Parents.
The author and Nanti. Click to enlarge
Monica Edwards with Nanti
by Tom Blau

The financial freedom gained from the success of her writing helped enable the family to buy an old farmhouse and land in Surrey in November 1947.
'Punchbowl Farm' was to provide the background and setting for many of her subsequent books, while the activities of her family and their friends both young and adult provided the realism so typical of her writing.

From 1950 to 1954 she produced two novels a year, dropping to one a year from 1955 with the two 'blank' years of 1964 and 1966.

During this time she contributed to 'The Elizabethan', 'The Children's Newspaper', 'Woman's Journal' and to the BBC's Children's Hour. She also wrote the story for the Children's Film Foundation film Dawn Killer, set on Romney Marsh.

B.B.C. television visited Punch Bowl Farm for a programme about her; an account of which is given in The Cats of Punchbowl Farm, and fictionalised in The Cownappers.

M.E. with Vashti. Click to enlarge
Monica with Vashti c.1954

She and her husband left Punch Bowl Farm at the end of 1970; but were able to retain the ownership of the wild valley abutting the farm's land and to build a bungalow on a field's edge just above the farmhouse they had lived in for more than twenty years.
Click to enlarge
Monica Edwards with grand-daughter Kitty
on holiday at Espinasse in 1985
photograph courtesy Sean Edwards
Bill died in 1990, and Monica lived on alone, walking daily in the Devil's Punchbowl, despite worsening eyesight. She was independent until she died, in January 1998, following a massive stroke.

I visited her in April 1995 and can say that I have rarely met a more likeable person.


Note: for more information, see the Sources page.


This page is part of the Monica Edwards Website. To enter this site by the front door, click here.
Illustrations copyright the Estate of Monica Edwards
Text copyright John Allsup
Last updated September 2003
minor correction Sept 2015
Note re Biography added March 2010