Author of 'The Cazalet Chronicles' Elizabeth Jane Howard dies aged 90

The novelist passed away in her home in Suffolk

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The Independent Online

The writer Elizabeth Jane Howard has died aged 90 at her home in Bungay, Suffolk.

In a career that spanned six decades, she found her biggest success in the 1990s as a septuagenarian with The Cazalet Chronicles: a series of novels set in the 1930s and 1940s.

The works were most recently adapted for the BBC Radio 4 series The Cazalets, which made its debut on New Year’s Eve 2012.

All Change, the final book in the series was published in 2013.

These semi-autobiographic novels saw her deal with what she knew: an upper-middle-class English family interacting in country-homes and in London.

Born 26 March 1923, Howard was educated by a governess at home in keeping with the time, while her two younger brothers were sent away to school.

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Her father David was a timber merchant, and her mother Katherine a dancer who performed in Diaghilev's Ballets Russe company. The Howards spent most of the year in west London’s Notting Hill, and their summers in Sussex at her grandparent’s country home.

However secure she seemed on paper, Howard spent many years of her life in psychotherapy, attempting to deal with her belief that her mother did not like her.

Looking elsewhere for attention, she married her first husband Peter Scott, the famous naturalist, in 1942. At 19 she had Nicola, her first and only child. Unhappily married and feeling unable to care for her daughter, she left the family when Nicola was three. Mother and daughter later reconciled after the abandonment created a deep rift between the two.

Her next marriage to James Douglas-Henry in 1959 also ended, this time after five years.

During her career she received accolades including the John Llewellyn Rhys prize for her first novel The Beautiful Visit, which she published in 1950. She was awarded a CBE in 2000.

Aside from novels, Howard also turned her writing talent to short stories, articles, television plays, film scripts and a book on food with restaurant critic Fay Maschler. She also edited a number of anthologies.

As well as being an exceptional writer, Howard also trained as an actress and played in a company with Paul Scofield CBE.

Whilst directing the Cheltenham literary festival in 1962, she became close with fellow novelist Kingsley Amis after they discussed sex and censorship in literature with Carson McCullers and Joseph Heller.

She and Amis married in 1965, but after a colourful life, including inspiring her stepson Martin Amis to write, she left Kingsley Amis in 1950.

In the 1990s, she settled in Suffolk to write, read, and sew in the home where she would end her life.