Rosamunde Scott Pilcher
22 September 1924
Lelant, Cornwall, England
|Died||6 February 2019 (aged 94)|
|Pen name||Jane Fraser|
|Notable works||The Shell Seekers|
|Notable awards||RoNA Award|
|Spouse||Graham Hope Pilcher (1946–2009)|
|Children||4, including Robin Pilcher|
Rosamunde Pilcher, OBE (née Scott; 22 September 1924 – 6 February 2019) was a British writer of romance novels, mainstream women's fiction, and short stories, from 1949 until her retirement in 2000. Her novels sold over 60 million copies worldwide. Early in her career she was also published under the pen name Jane Fraser.
She was born Rosamunde Scott on 22 September 1924 in Lelant, Cornwall. Her parents were Helen (née Harvey) and Charles Scott, a British commander. Just before her birth her father was posted in Burma, while her mother remained in England. She attended the School of St. Clare in Penzance and Howell's School Llandaff before going on to Miss Kerr-Sanders' Secretarial College. She began writing when she was seven, and published her first short story when she was 15.
From 1943 until 1946, Pilcher served with the Women's Royal Naval Service. On 7 December 1946, she married Graham Hope Pilcher, a war hero and jute industry executive who died in March 2009. They moved to Dundee, Scotland. They had two daughters and two sons. Her son, Robin Pilcher, is also a novelist.
Pilcher died on 6 February 2019, at the age of 94, following a stroke.
In 1949, Pilcher's first book, a romance novel, was published by Mills and Boon, under the pseudonym Jane Fraser. She published a further ten novels under that name. In 1955, she also began writing under her real name with Secret to Tell. By 1965 she had dropped the pseudonym and was signing her own name to all of her novels.
The breakthrough in Pilcher's career came in 1987, when she wrote the family saga, The Shell Seekers, her fourteenth novel. It focuses on an elderly British woman, Penelope Keeling, who relives her life in flashbacks, and on her relationship with her adult children. Keeling's life was not extraordinary, but it spans "a time of huge importance and change in the world." The novel describes the everyday details of what life during World War II was like for some of those who lived in Britain. The Shell Seekers sold around ten million copies and was translated into more than forty languages. It was adapted for the stage by Terence Brady and Charlotte Bingham. Pilcher was said to be among the highest-earning women in Britain by the mid-1990s.
Her other major novels include September (1990), Coming Home (1995) and Winter Solstice (2000). Coming Home won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award by Romantic Novelists' Association in 1996. The president of the association in 2019, the romance writer Katie Fforde, considers Pilcher to be "groundbreaking as she was the first to bring family sagas to the wider public". Felicity Bryan, in her obituary for The Guardian, writes that Pilcher took the romance genre to "an altogether higher, wittier level"; she praises Pilcher's work for its "grittiness and fearless observation" and comments that it is often more prosaic than romantic.
Her books are especially popular in Germany because the national television station ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen) has produced more than a hundred of her stories for television, starting with The Day of the Storm in 1993. These television films are some of the most popular programmes on ZDF. Pilcher was awarded the British Tourism Award in 2002 for the positive effect the books and the adaptations have had on Cornish tourism. Notable film locations include Prideaux Place, a 16th-century mansion near Padstow.
A two-part television adaptation of Coming Home, made by Yorkshire Television, was broadcast in 1998, starring Keira Knightley, Emily Mortimer, Peter O'Toole, Joanna Lumley, Penelope Keith, David McCallum, Paul Bettany, Patrick Ryecart and Susan Hampshire, among others.