E M Delafield was born in 1890 to Count Henry de la Pasture and his novelist wife. Brought up according to strict Late Victorian precepts, but failing to ensnare a husband, she entered a convent in Belgium the moment she was 21. Having recovered from this experience she became a VAD, and wrote her first novel. In 1919, the year her fourth novel Consequences was published, she married Paul Dashwood, a civil engineer turned land agent; three years in Malaya was followed by life in rural Devon as a J.P., member of the W.I. etc. with their two children, and the writing of over thirty novels, including the ‘completely perfect’ The Way Things Are (1927) and Thank Heavens Fasting (1932). Diary of a Provincial Lady (1930), her most successful book, began as a column in the feminist weekly Time and Tide. E.M.Delafield’s beloved son died in 1940; she herself, a warm, witty and generous woman, died aged only 53.