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Tributes to special lady who began writing career at 16

PUBLISHED: 16:57 20 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:57 07 September 2010

A HAMPSTEAD author who wrote her first novel when she was 16 has died. Diana Raymond, a passionate member of Hampstead Parish Church, died at her home in East Heath Road on Monday morning, aged 92. She wrote more than 20 novels during her career as well a

A HAMPSTEAD author who wrote her first novel when she was 16 has died.

Diana Raymond, a passionate member of Hampstead Parish Church, died at her home in East Heath Road on Monday morning, aged 92.

She wrote more than 20 novels during her career as well as the play John Keats Lived Here, which was performed by the amateur drama group the Hampstead Players.

She was a passionate supporter of the group and reviewed many of their performances.

Ms Raymond's father died just a year after her birth, during the Battle of Passchendaele. But she was able to attend Cheltenham Ladies' College with the aid of the Officers' Families Fund.

She started writing at the age of 16, bashing away at a hired typewriter in the evenings at the London girls' hostel where she lived.

Her first novel, The Lonely Travellers, began with a young man named Jonathan contemplating throwing himself under a train. Although it was not published, her second book, written when she was 19, was.

Between then and her death she wrote 23 more novels, an autobiography and a play.

She moved to Hampstead in the 1940s with her husband and her young son, Peter, and lived until her death at a flat in the Pryors, on the doorstep of Hampstead Heath.

With her beloved husband Ernest she would spend endless hours discussing books and the craft of the novelist.

"I learned much from him in the art of storytelling, more especially as I typed his books as well as my own, and corrected the proofs," she wrote in her autobiography.

She was a devoted member of Hampstead Parish Church and attended mass at St John's as long as she was able.

Beside her family and her writing, her faith was one of the cornerstones of her life.

Her son, Peter Raymond, said: "She was gentle and kind and very caring for people."

His wife Margaret said: "Diana was utterly interested in everyone but as part of her family, she enveloped us."

In a letter to the family, Peggy Jay's daughter Catherine Boyd wrote: "She was a very special lady with a unique mix of intelligence, beauty and gentleness. I loved her very much and so did my mother."

Diana Raymond's memorial service will be held next week. Details will be announced on the Ham&High website at www.hamhigh.co.uk.

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