We were very saddened to learn, last month, of the death of author Marilyn Edwards. We in the Seven Stories Collections Team were lucky enough to get to know Marilyn in recent months - back in March of this year she generously donated her archive of papers relating to the writing of her two well-loved novels for children, White Chin and Magnificat. The archive of Marilyn's work will be catalogued and made available soon.

Here Marilyn's friend, Brian Alderson, talks about her life and legacy.

When Marilyn Edwards took up a job at the Publishers Association in 1965 she realised at once that she had, as the ballad says: 'come down right'.  She had only recently left a secretarial college in Bradford -- 'a kind of finishing school' --  and had had a rather alarming first job as live-in secretary to Chad Varah, the founder of the Samaritans.  Now though she found herself at the focal point of a book-trade still retaining something of its character as a cottage industry – dozens of independent publishers, each with their own characteristics, serving town bookshops up and down the country before their eventual throttlement by 'the chains'. It was full of appeal to her enthusiastic and gregarious  temperament.

Within a few years she came to be highly regarded both for her efficiency (despite an apparent aversion to filing systems) and her grasp of trade affairs. She was closely involved with the founding of the Booker Prize in 1969, becoming its first Press Officer, while, as secretary to the Educational Publishers' Council, she was familiar with the work of the National Book League, and became its Children's Books Officer in 1971.

Her work in that capacity so impressed Tom Maschler of Jonathan Cape that he persuaded her to join that still independent company as their Publicity Director.  Not the least exciting, but demanding, part of this work was the organising of nation-wide promotional tours, taking authors to the hoped-for razzmatazz of signing sessions, media visits and the like. (Her recollections of the trauma experienced in taking Lauren Bacall on such a trip ought to have been recorded in the Book Trade Oral History project).

In the course of these duties she met the writer Geoffrey Moorhouse and left a liaison with the military historian, John Terraine, in order to live with and eventually marry him. Both were enamoured of the North Country and in 1983 they moved to a dwelling outside Hawes at the head of Wensleydale whence Marilyn continued her trade career as a rep for Allen & Unwin.  The marriage did not last and, briefly deserting the north, she returned to London to work as Key Account Manager for the now vastly expanded conglomerate of Random House.  Here she was to marry her boss, Michael Dugdale, taking instruction to join him in his Catholic faith and inviting what seemed like the whole of the London book trade to a nuptial High Mass and a tremendous wedding breakfast.  They lived first at Moon Cottage in Rickmansworth, but on retirement moved  to the Cumbrian village of Hutton Roof looking southward across the dales to Ingleborough.

Before leaving Random House Marilyn had been working with the author Susan Hill from whom she had adopted a young kitten – a fatal move for so warm-hearted an animal-lover.  Before long she and Michael found themselves with a further cat, observation of whose activities led to her writing The Cats of Moon Cottage which was published by Hodder in 2003 with illustrations by Peter Warner.  Its success, and the coming of more cats, inspired three further volumes in the saga  which were themselves followed by two novels for children, illustrated by France Bauduin, published appropriately by Catnip:  White Chin  and Magnificat.  Her fascination with children's reading and awareness of its importance – dating back to the old NBL days -- encouraged her to apply her promotional skills as an author and she founded a local reputation for the intensity of her involvement with the child readers that she encountered on many school visits.

The happiness of these productive years was marred in 2015 by the onset of the cancer from which she died on the 28th of June.  She had confronted the disease with a wonderful resilience, sustained by her faith and  preserving to the end her lifelong radiant vitality and commitment to joy.