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Mollie Panter-Downes photographed by Lee Miller
Mollie Panter-Downes (1906-97) was brought up by her mother in Sussex after her father, a Major in the Royal Irish Regiment, was killed at Mons in August 1914. She published her first novelThe Shoreless Sea when she was seventeen – it was a bestseller. She wrote three more popular novels as well as articles and short stories and in 1929 married Clare Robinson, travelled round the world, and moved to the sixteenth-century house near Chiddingfold in Surrey where she and her family lived for over sixty years. Each day Mollie took a basket with her lunch to a writing hut in the woods where, between 1938 and 1984, she wrote 852 pieces for The New Yorker: Letters from London, book reviews, Reporter at Large and short stories, as well as non-fiction books such as Ooty Preserved (1967). In 1947 she published One Fine Day, one of the century’s most enduring novels. Persephone has reprinted the short stories asGood Evening, Mrs Craven and Minnie’s Roomand the non-fiction pieces she wrote forThe New Yorkerduring the war asLondon War Notes.