- The Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) has honoured its oldest member, Ida Pollock, who has recently celebrated her 105th birthday. Ida was a founder member of the organisation, which started in 1960, when she was 52. To mark her many years as an author and to celebrate her 105 years the RNA bestowed upon her the office of Honorary Vice President, which she was delighted to accept.Still a working author Ida, who lives in Cornwall, has just found an agent for her two unpublished Regency romances, and is confident that they will be published in the not too distant future.Annie Ashurst, Chairman of the RNA, commented: “A writing career is a career for life, as Ida has proved. She has lived for her writing and it was on the strength of her 44 published novels in 1960 that Ida became one of our founding members. She has now published 123 books and we are all very proud of her and are very much looking forward to reading the next two.”
An only child Ida got the reading habit from her bookworm mother and from an early age she wrote and then sent out her short stories. She had a succession of jobs, as writing never earned her enough to live on and in her late 20s travelled to Morocco where she realised storytelling was a vocation. She returned to England hopeful and energised, and her first novel was published in the mid 1930s under the name of Joan Allen.
Ida went on to write 123 books, many for Mills & Boon but she was writing more than they could publish, so wrote for Wright & Brown under the name Anita Charles; for Ward Lock as Averil Ives and Barbara Rowan; for Hurst & Blackett as Mary Whistler and for Collins she was Jane Beaufort. In 1956 she had eight romantic novels published under five pen names – each around 70,000 words long. In five years she had 40 books published. Her first historical novel, The Gentle Masquerade, was published under her own name in 1964.
In the 1970s Ida started writing Regency novels for Mills & Boon’s Masquerade series, of which she was one of four founding authors. This time she wrote as Marguerite Bell, the last of eleven writing names, including her own. Her memoir, Starlight, was published in 2009.