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Mary Wesley Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Sixth Seal (1969)Description / Buy at Amazon
Speaking Terms (1969)Description / Buy at Amazon
Jumping the Queue (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
Haphazard House (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Camomile Lawn (1984)Description / Buy at Amazon
Harnessing Peacocks (1985)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Vacillations of Poppy Carew (1986)Description / Buy at Amazon
Not That Sort of Girl (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
Second Fiddle (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Sensible Life (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Dubious Legacy (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
An Imaginative Experience (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
Part of the Furniture (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Part of the Scenery (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Darling Pol (With: Patrick Marnham) (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon

Mary Wesley was a renowned English novelist of children’s books, historical fiction, British Literature, romance, and fiction novels. Her books have attained the status of bestselling novels. Wesley was among the most successful British novelists of her time, having sold more than 3 million printed copies of her novels. As many as ten books of her career became bestsellers during the last 25 years of her life. Author Wesley, who died at the age of 90, obtained the rare feat of becoming a bestselling author at 70 years of age. She is best remembered for being a novelist who defied the literary and social conventions by providing explicit descriptions about sex in her books. Two of her popular books, The Camomile Lawn and Jumping the Queue, have been adapted into TV shows. Wesley’s stories generally take place in the war period or the pre-war period or the West Country. Her characters mostly belong to the upper-middle class.

Wesley’s writing style and her skill at depicting interconnected loves and lives are often compared with the likes of Jane Austen. Though her novels contained all the traits of a traditional novel’s convention, they included a darker side in terms of an entangled web of homosexuality, murder, incest, suicide, brutality, illegitimacy, and cruelty. Author Wesley was born as Mary Aline Mynors Farmar on June 24, 1912, in Englefield, Green, Surrey, UK. She was the third child of her parents, Col. Harold Myers and Violet Dalby. During her childhood, her mother changed a total of sixteen governesses to look after her as she was not available herself all the time. When Wesley asked her mother why the governesses kept on leaving, she was told that none of them liked her. All her life, Wesley and her family shared a complicated relationship. Her mother was too vocal, which made Wesley have a strained relationship with her.

When Wesley developed an interest in books at an early age, her family disapproved it. Her stories were labeled as ‘filth’ by her brother and her sister provided a strong objection to her book, The Camomile Lawn. After Wesley’s sister claimed that some of her characters were senselessly based on her parents, she chose to cut all ties with her forever. They didn’t even remain on talking terms after that. During her adulthood, Wesley met and married her first husband named Charles Swinfen Eady. Charles went on to become Baron Swinfen and the two were blessed with 2 sons, Toby Eady and Roger Swinfen Eady. Roger became the Third Baron Swinfen, while Toby served as biographer Patrick Marnham’s literary agent. Wesley’s second marriage happened with Eric Siepmann, with whom she had a son named William Siepmann. In 1970, following Siepmann’s death, Wesley was forced to live an impoverished life. It was then that she decided to pursue writing and become a novelist to restore her financial stability.

One year before her death, Wesley agreed to let Patrick Marnham write her biography, and that too after his repeated requests. She had put the condition that nothing should be published while she was alive. The biography was finally published in 2006, four years after her death, with the title Wild Mary. This title is a reference to her childhood nickname as well as to her colorful sex life in her youth when she has multiple lovers. A time had come in her life when she had gotten tired of her having too many lovers and her excessive drinking habit. When Toby read the biography, he was so shocked at how much he was unaware of his mother’s life that he didn’t speak to any person for one whole week.

During the last days of her life, Wesley had ordered a coffin for herself and kept it in her house as a coffee table until her death. She had asked to be photographed in the sitting position and featured in the Country Living magazine, but it was declined due to political constraints. Wesley was appointed a CBE in 1995. Her death occurred on December 30, 2002, in Totnes, Devon, due to complications from blood and gout disorder. Because of her association with the Totnes town, she was chosen to appear on the one-pound note of Totnes in 2007.

A successful novel penned by author Mary Wesley in her career is entitled ‘Jumping the Queue’. It was first published in 1983 and re-published by Vintage in 2006. The main characters featuring in this book include Louise, Mark Fuller, Tom Poliport, Mr. Jones, Gus Fox, Matilda Poliport, Anabel, Hugh Warner, Claud, and John Piers. Initially, Matilda Poliport is introduced as a recently widowed woman. She has an estranged relationship with her 4 grown-up children. When she becomes fed up of her miserable life, she decides to end it with her own hands. Matilda cleans her cottage, gives away her pet goose, burns all the incriminating letters, and gets ready to eat the sleeping pills before entering into the ocean. However, her plan of committing suicide gets interrupted when she prevents the suicide of Hugh Warner. Hugh is wanted by the police and doesn’t wish to live anymore. After their unusual meeting, Hugh and Matilda decide to give another chance to themselves at living and come together as couples. Still, a lot many questions remain to be answered regarding the lives of both Hugh Warner and Matilda Poliport.

Another noteworthy book written by Wesley is called ‘A Sensible Life’. It was also released by Vintage publication in 2006, after its original release in 1990. The central character mentioned in this novel is Flora Trevelyan. She is introduced as a 10-year-old misfit, who is despised by her indolent and selfish parents. Flora’s parents leave her to roam on the streets of a small town in France while they prepare to move to colonial India to begin a new life. While wandering the streets, Flora comes across the locals and befriends them. She learns an extensive vocabulary of the foul language of France and witnesses the elegant British families living their privileged lifestyle on vacation in France in the 1920s. As Flora is introduced to the civilized, kindly, and caring people for the first time, she hopelessly and helplessly falls in love with 3 young men. In the next 40 years of her life, Flora grows up into a beautiful woman and goes through life’s different phases. She explores, consummates, and finally resolves each of her affairs.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Mary Wesley

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