Enid Algerine Bagnold was born in Kent in 1889. Her father was in the army and Enid spent part of her childhood in Jamaica. After finishing school in Paris, she studied art, before working as a Red Cross nurse in World War I.
In 1920 she married the head of Reuters news agency, Sir Roderick Jones. They led a rich, aristocratic life and knew many of the famous writers of the period.
In 1923 they bought a country home in Rottingdean called North End House. Sir Roderick extended the home by purchasing the neighbouring building, Gothic House. He also bought Rudyard Kipling's house The Elms on the village green, and a racing stable. They had four children and it was the family's involvement with horses which would inspire Enid to write 'National Velvet'.
After Sir Roderick died in 1962 Enid suffered from ill health. She sold her London home in 1969 and lived most of her remaining years in Rottingdean. In 1970 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and awarded a CBE in 1976. She died in London in 1981.
'Alice and Thomas and Jane' (1930) was the only book Enid wrote specifically for children. It describes the adventures of three children aged 5, 8 and 7 who live in a large house in Rottingdean.
The story is set near Worthing, but Rottingdean residents recognised that the fictional Browns were inspired by the family of the local butcher, the Hilders.
My copy was given to me in 1946 and the book was first published in 1930. It is a children's classic and second hand copies can still be found if you search hard enough. I managed to find a copy in good condition for a eight year old girl and I hope she will treasure it as much as I have done. It is one of the few books remaining from my childhood, most disappeared when I went to Africa. Not so very long ago I made a pilgrimage to the small seaside town of Rottingdean and found the houses that look like 'rows of knit one. purl one knitting' i.e. split cobbles.