Monica Dickens dies at 77

Tanya Reed
Sunday 27 December 1992 00:02 GMT
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MONICA Dickens, the author of more than 30 books, died of cancer on Christmas Day, aged 77, leaving a posthumous tribute to her great-grandfather, Charles Dickens, in an historical novel, One of the Family, to be published in May by Viking, writes Tanya Reed. It is about a family living in the shadow of a great writer's death.

Miss Dickens drew on the characters of her great grandmother and grandparents while working in the 1907 murder of William Whiteley, founder of the well-known London store.

Being the great grand-daughter of Dickens caused problems as no one in the family was allowed to be a writer. Miss Dickens once said: 'Dickens was God. It was like someone coming along after Christ and saying they were Christ too.'

Clare Alexander, publishing director of Viking, said: 'This was the first time Monica had written about her family.' Miss Dickens' first works were based on her early life as a cook, nurse and local newspaper reporter. In 1939, One Pair of Hands became a bestseller. Other novels included One Pair of Feet, The Happy Prisoner, The Room Upstairs, Follyfoot and Last Year When I was Young. Her penultimate novel, The Scar, was published in 1991.

Miss Dickens lived much of her life in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, after marrying in 1951. In 1974 she founded a US arm of the Samaritans, for which she received an MBE. In 1987, after the death of her husband, Roy Stratton, she moved to Brightwalton, Berkshire, and produced a book a year. She leaves two daughters.

(Photograph omitted)

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