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Published here for the first time, this remarkable cache of letters reveals the great love story of Mary Wesley's life.

Published here for the first time, this remarkable cache of letters reveals the great love story of Mary Wesley's life.

‘They met by chance in the Palm Court of the Ritz Hotel on the evening of 26 October 1944. By the time she eventually caught the train back to Penzance two days later they had fallen in love and Eric had declared that he was determined to marry her…’
Before her death in 2002, Mary Wesley told her biographer Patrick Marnham: ‘after I met Eric I never looked at anyone else again. We lived our ups and downs but life was never boring.’ Eric Siepmann was her second husband and their correspondence – lively, intimate, passionate, frustrated – charted their life together (and apart) with unusual candour and spirit.

Marnham suggests that through these letters Mary, who famously blossomed as a novelist in her seventies, a decade after Eric's death, found her voice. Bequeathed to Marnham in two size-5 shoeboxes, this is one of the great surviving post-war correspondences.

‘With you I can become the person I really am – and bearing the grave in mind be buried as such. Dear love consider yourself kissed’
Mary, 30 October 1944

‘I find you brave and amusing, understanding and beautiful, simple and sophisticated, and I love you. More than that, I mean to get you’
Eric, 5 December 1944


It seems extraordinary that Mary Wesley had to wait until she was in her seventies to become an acclaimed author. These letters, written to her lover Eric Siepmann, and edited by her biographer Patrick Marnham, show that she was already a brilliant writer in her thirties

Lynn Barber, Sunday Times

Passionate, erotic, honest, funny and also supremely sad... superbly edited by Wesley's biographer Patrick Marnham

Nicholas Shakespeare, Spectator

Highly readable

Ysenda Maxtone Graham, Daily Mail

a lovely, entertaining and moving book

Sara Wheeler, Literary Review

Her letters are cheerful, resilient and funny, full of sharply observed vignettes of her life in Devon.

Jane Shilling, The Oldie

A fascinating insight into the world of Mary Wesley and the scenarios that inspired her famous novels

The Lady, a Book of the Week

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Formats & editions

  • Hardback


    October 15, 2017

    Harvill Secker

    320 pages

    RRP $39.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
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    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
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    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Mary Wesley

The Camomile Lawn (Vintage Summer)
A Dubious Legacy
Part Of The Furniture
Second Fiddle
An Imaginative Experience
Harnessing Peacocks
A Sensible Life
The Vacillations Of Poppy Carew
Not That Sort Of Girl
The Camomile Lawn
Jumping The Queue


The Diary Of A Young Girl
Me. You: A Diary
Home and Away
The Invention of Angela Carter
A Broken World
The Adventures of Arthur Conan Doyle
Bruce Chatwin
Bernard Shaw
Getting Real
Take Courage
The Long Weekend
Living on Paper
The Story of Alice
The Best of Benn
A Further Slice Of Johnners
Charles Bukowski
The Blair Years
Talking into the Typewriter
Diary of an Ordinary Schoolgirl