How a dif­fer­ent El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor made a name for her­self in Bea­cons­field

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - PEOPLE AND PLACES - With Don­ald Stan­ley

IT is not un­usual for a man to re­marry upon his first wife’s death ex­cept that in the case of lo­cal busi­ness­man John Tay­lor each bride, by tak­ing his sur­name, shared those of a fa­mous movie star, and a prom­i­nent il­lus­tra­tor and au­thor re­spec­tively.

Fur­ther, his home with his sec­ond wife was op­po­site the birthplace of Bea­cons­field born au­thor Nor­man Collins who wrote one of the favourable re­views of the novel ‘At Mrs Lip­pin­cote’s’ which launched the ca­reer of his first wife, El­iz­a­beth, who wrote it the same year as the ac­tress of the same name made her mark in Na­tional Vel­vet.

Un­sur­pris­ingly, Ni­cola Beau­man ti­tled her bi­og­ra­phy ‘The Other El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor’.

In it she traced the story of El­iz­a­beth from the time she served her writ­ing ap­pren­tice­ship with its rejection slips whilst she sold The Daily Worker in High Wy­combe to life in Penn as the mid­dle class wife of a com­pany di­rec­tor writ­ing short sto­ries and nov­els un­til the en­thu­si­asm with which they were re­ceived was grad­u­ally re­placed by re­spect­ful if un­ex­cit­ing re­views or down­right rejection as tastes changed. She had mar­ried John in 1936 who re­tired when in 1966 his fam­ily’s busi­ness be­came part of Caven­ham Foods.

This, to­gether with the ad­vent of grand­chil­dren from the mar­riages of their son and daugh­ter, ended the daily soli­tude in which El­iz­a­beth had writ­ten.

The 1960s did, how­ever, see her start to write chil­dren’s sto­ries.

El­iz­a­beth avoided both per­sonal pub­lic­ity and the literary es­tab­lish­ment.

De­spite the sneers this brought from ‘The Lady-Nov­el­ists An­tiEl­iz­a­beth League’, as Ni­cola Beau­man called it, which scorned her as a mere woman’s mag­a­zine writer who mar­ried a sweet man­u­fac­turer and lived in the coun­try, such dis­cern­ing con­tem­po­raries as Kings­ley Amis de­scribed her as ‘one of the finest nov­el­ists of her and our times’.

Two movies and two tele­vi­sion adap­ta­tions were made from her nov­els.

In 1952 she was en­tered in Who’s Who, in 1966 be­came a Fel­low of the Royal So­ci­ety of Literature, and in 1971 was short­listed for the Booker Prize.

Her last novel, ‘Blam­ing’ was pub­lished posthu­mously in 1976 in which year she was awarded a Whit­bread Prize for out­stand­ing achieve­ment over her life­time. El­iz­a­beth died in 1975. Two years later John re­mar­ried, his sec­ond wife, Eleanor who had been his and El­iz­a­beth’s neigh­bour when they lived at Daw’s Hill in the 1940s. He died in 2006, but Eleanor lived to celebrate her cen­te­nary.

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