Novelist and biographer


Elizabeth Jenkins (1905-2010) was the daughter of a Hitchin prep school headmaster. She went to St Christopher's, Letchworth and Newnham College, Cambridge and then came to live in Bloomsbury to pursue a writing career. Her first novel came out in 1928; over the next 75 years she wrote a dozen biographies, including those of Elizabeth I and Jane Austen, and a dozen novels, including in 1954 one of the outstanding novels of the postwar period, The Tortoise and the Hare. In the 1930s Elizabeth Jenkins was an English teacher and during the war she was a civil servant; she lived in a pink-washed Regency house in Downshire Hill in Hampstead, the street which gave its name to her 2004 memoir. Harriet (1934) is a novel based on the actual 1877 murder of a young woman whose relations were after her money; it won the Femina Vie Heureuse Prize.

Photo of Elizabeth Jenkins: Bassano Ltd/NPG x104665 © National Portrait Gallery, London