Miss Read

Dora Jessie Saint (née Shafe) was born on 17 April 1913 in Middlesex. After World War I she moved with her family to Kent where she adored the atmosphere of the village school and had an early appreciation of books. She studied at Homerton College, Cambridge, finding teaching work afterwards at a school in Middlesex. There she met fellow teacher Douglas Saint, whom she married in 1940.

After World War II, Dora Saint returned to work as a teacher, and also began to write short pieces for Punch about her experiences. Soon she was also writing for the Times Educational Supplement, The Lady, and The Countryman, but it was one of her articles in The Observer in 1953 that caught the eye of the book publisher Michael Joseph. It was the publisher’s suggestion that she use a pseudonym for full-length fiction; thus ‘Miss Read’ was born.

From the start, her novels were characterized by gentle humour, vivid descriptions of the natural world, and the comforting minutiae of everyday life.

After the first three ‘Fairacre’ novels, Miss Read created a new fictional village, Thrush Green. The first book in this series was published in 1959. She wrote roughly one book a year until 1996, illustrated by the artist John S. Goodall. As well as the two series she wrote a stand-alone novel, Fresh From the Country (1960), several children’s novels, and a number of non-fiction titles.

Miss Read was made MBE in 1998. She died on 7 April 2012 at her home in Shefford Woodlands, Berkshire, survived by her daughter, Jill.

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