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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 07 Jun 2011, 15:39 
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Having lived with Phyllis and Sydney Matthewman, from the period of Elinor moving from Hereford to Merstham, and then Redhill, where Elinor died, I never saw Phylis write anything of Elinors. I cannot believe the story about the Libary, as Sydney was working during the week in the Admiralty in London.Neither Phyllis or Elinor could drive
Phyllis and Elinor wrote for Mills & Boon, and Phyllis also wrote under Katherine (or Catherine) York
Both Phyllis and Elinor had there own study's where they wrote their books, whilst smoking constantly
Both authors led there seperate lives in each of the houses except to share a meal


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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 07 Jun 2011, 16:41 
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Welcome to the board! This is so interesting Tuttsclump. Did you know Elinor? Is there anything else you could tell us about Phyllis and Elinor?


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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 07 Jun 2011, 16:49 
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Phyllis Matthewman also wrote as Kathryn Surrey, I have Maids A-waiting and Bees at Marling both under this name. I have a vague memory that Maids A-waiting was also published as Tea for Two under her real name. These are career novels,as are several under her name - Timber Girl and Jill on the land.

I like the Daneswood books, I think they have quite a different feel to EBD's books. She has some interesting characters in Rusty, Natasha and Nicola, who are very different from most schoolgirls. Thanks to Mr Jones - first of a set of four - has an unusual "finding treasure" theme - rather than jewels or hoards of gold coins they find Inigo Jones scenery.

I've read a couple of her Mills and Boon books, but didn't know EBD also wrote for Mills and Boon - presumably it was under a pen-name? Do you know any titles?


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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 07 Jun 2011, 16:59 
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Welcome to the board Tuttslcump. Could you provide a little more evidence or proof that you lived with the Matthewmans? Forgive me for being cynical but it's not hard to claim you lived with them, anyone could post that.
Why would not being able to drive stop Phyllis and EBD from going to the library? Were there no buses? Was it too far to walk?


Last edited by RubyGates on 07 Jun 2011, 17:11, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 07 Jun 2011, 17:11 
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Interesting suggestion that EBD wrote for Mills & Boon. If it's true, i'm surprised it's not been mentioned before, at least by her biographer.


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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 07 Jun 2011, 18:01 
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I was the electrician in the Merstham Drama Club, which used to hold pantomimes at Redhill.
Phyllis was the director of the shows and Sydney was the musical director of the pantomimes
They originally lived in Gervase Cottage in the High Street Merstham, moving to Albury edge Merstham
Phyllis (AKA Katherine Surrey & Jacqueline York) was a writer of romantic books with Mills & Boon, and was a good friend of Elinor Mary Brent-Dyer, who wrote the “Chalet School” books
At about the age of twentyish I went and lived with the Mathewman’s, in Rockshaw Road moving to Station Road, then Woodlands Road Redhill,
After Elinor’s mother died she moved to Merstham from Hereford living with Phyllis and Sydney and moving with them to Redhill, where she died in 1969
In each house they lived in Elinor had her own study to write in and when they moved to Woodlands Road, Elinor had her accommodation upstairs and Sidney and Phyllis lived downstairs.
My room was on a half landing of the house, and Phyllis looked after me.
Phyllis had a cocker spaniel called Joe
Sydney was an eccentric person who used to wear a monocle and riding jodhpurs and loved big cars like an Austin Sheer Line, and an Austin Princess.
My Name is Bryan Hall, and anybody who knew Elinor, Phyllis, and Sidney will know I lived with them in their latter years
In the 60’s both Elinor and Phyllis were elderly ladies having to use walking sticks and busses in those days had high boarding platforms.
Where Elinor and Phyllis lived in Redhill (56 Woodlands Road), it was some distance to the Library in Redhill town centre, so Yes there was buses and yes again it was far too far for two elderly ladies to walk
After Sydney died I used to drive Phyllis to visit her sister and brother-in-law in Redhill, and to visit her niece Chloe who lived near Alexandra Palace


Last edited by Tuttsclump on 14 Jun 2011, 13:49, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 07 Jun 2011, 18:46 
Gosh, Tuttsclump, that's all enormously interesting, rather as if someone had stepped out of a book with a whole new backstory on another character! You say that EBD and the Matthewmans led pretty separate lives under the same roof, and that your relationship with more with them - did you see much of Elinor, and what impression did you form of her as a personality?


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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 07 Jun 2011, 18:53 
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That's fascinating - thanks for telling us about it!


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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 07 Jun 2011, 19:46 
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When I lived with Phyllis and Sydney Mathewman at Albury Edge, Rockshaw Road. The house was basically a downstairs apartment to a large house. The Landlord Peter Oram, who used to run a Grocery shop in Croydon, lived upstairs.
The house had a large entrance hall that was split into two entrances, one up one down.
One large room was separated into a study, and bedroom.
Phyllis used to type in the study until Elinor moved in, which then became her bedroom, I had moved out at this time.
Elinor used to type her manuscripts in the bed/study, and Phyllis used the dining room table, which was in an alcove of the main sitting room.
The Landlord had a donkey that had the run of the garden and would come up to the dining room window and scratch her back on the underside of the open window threatening to break it off.
One day Phyllis had gone out to the kitchen, and when she came back the donkey was in the sitting room sitting on the hearth rug
One day the BBC rung up and wanted Elinor to appear on the Tonight Programme, with "Cliff" Michelmore, who lived with his wife Jean Metcalfe in Reigate Surrey, which they did with a chauffeur driven Limousine arriving in style at the grand entrance of Albury Edge.
When Phyllis’s tenancy expired they moved to Station Road Redhill in an upstairs flat.
I moved in permanently and had a small bedroom over the front entrance to the house below, with Elinor who had a bedroom at the back and Phyllis and Sydney had the front bedroom and there was a communal room for meals and relaxing
This was only temporary, until they acquired Woodlands Road
56 Woodlands Road was a large detached house on an hill, which was large enough for all of us to settle in.
Elinor had her Bedroom, a small kitchen, bedroom, and large sitting room, where she also typed her manuscripts. Upstairs
The Mathewman’s lived downstairs with Phyllis having a study overlooking the back garden
The Two ladies got on well although both being of strong mind I don’t ever recall any really harsh words.
As Sydney was Elinor’s literary agent it was imperative they lived in harmony, which they did fairly well.
Both Elinor and the Mathewman’s were members of the National trust, so we used to have numerous excursions to National Trust Property.
Elinor always used to make me cringe when she used to call me “Ducky”, which I hated, but it was one of her favourite sayings.


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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 07 Jun 2011, 20:24 
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:lol: Aww, poor you. Have you read many of the Chalet School books or any other EBD books? I was just wondering if any incidents in the books were taken from real life that maybe you read and thought "I remember that happening".


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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 07 Jun 2011, 20:57 
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Unfortunately I never read any of either Elinor or Phyllis's books (wrong sex) not into romantic or children’s books.
I made a mistake earlier in saying that Elinor wrote for Mills & Boon, wrong publisher it was Chambers, it was because Sidney was Elinor's agent, but also negotiated for Phyllis with her publishers.
Sidney worked for the Admiralty editing National Anthems for the various counties.
I remember one time going to visit Elinor in Hereford, and we went out to visit Tintern Abbey, and we passed over a bridge that was weight restricted less than the weight of our car, so we had to get out and walk over, and Sidney very gingerly drove the car over


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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 07 Jun 2011, 21:30 
This is so interesting, Tuttsclump! Thank you for telling us all about your experiences - it certainly helps me have a more rounded idea of Elinor and her life. I'm interested to hear that you believe that Phyllis had no hand in writing Prefects. The style of the book is so different than any of the other CS books and it's hard to understand what was happening there. The general deterioration of the later books seems to plummet when it comes to Prefects.

I love Phyllis Matthewman's books, although I've only read Chloe, Queerness and one other whihc I can't remember the name of (nice sentence, that). I think that Phyllis's style is very much of the time, rather than being directly similar to Elinor's. There's a sameness in GO writing even though individual writers have their own styles.

Until now I had been convinced that Phyllis had had a very great hand in the writing of Prefects. Now I have to think again ...


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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 07 Jun 2011, 21:40 
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It's fascinating hearing a bit more about Elinor and Phyllis - thanks so much for telling us!

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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 07 Jun 2011, 21:41 
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Was Elinor excited or nervous being on TV? I wish I'd seen it. Did you all watch it when it was broadcast?


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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 07 Jun 2011, 22:39 
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I believe Elinor joined the Mathewman’s around 1965-1966, at Albury Edge Merstham
And it was about this time Elinor was invited to go on the Tonight Programme. Yes I would say that Elinor was very excited, as was Sidney (Her agent) and Phyllis, as they were both invited to go as well
I have just found an interesting article which will confirm some of my story about the Mathewman’s and Elinor at Albury Edge West http://www.rockshawroad.org.uk/Descript ... AlburyEdge


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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 07 Jun 2011, 23:08 
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I love the name Noddyshall :D .

I didn't know EBD was keen on visiting National Trust properties: maybe that's why Jack Maynard's family home was handed over to the NT. Thanks, Bryan, that's all really interesting. You must find it very strange seeing us all discussing people whom you knew personally :D .

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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 08 Jun 2011, 20:07 
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I don’t think Elinor was a natural National Trust visitor, but more to do with the Matthewman’s , who organized the trips. Elinor could not drive and basically went along for the ride.
It does seem very strange joining this group, discussing something that involved me fifty years ago.
Because of some problems that I got into, Phyllis asked me to come and stay with them, and obviously I got to know of Elinor when we used to go to Hereford to visit her.
I remember it being a large house with a basement, and seeing a rabbit hanging from the ceiling, ready for the rabbit stew that Elinor made next day.
It was agreed that Elinor would sell her house and move in with the Matthewman’s, so they could pool resources and buy a house that they would share.
Both Elinor and Phyllis were strong willed people, but tolerated each other, and apart from the few grumbles got along with each other.
Both would be in their respective study’s typing away smoking like chimneys
Once we moved to Woodlands Road, Elinor spent most of time upstairs in her part of the house, typing during the day and watching TV at night after cooking her evening meal
It’s ironic that both Phyllis and Elinor’s studies was at the back of the house where both could look out the window, viewing the back garden and hopefully getting inspiration for their books.
When Elinor became ill, she used to feign some of her illness, and when she finally passed away in bed, Sidney rung me at work, and asked me to come back, as he was not sure if she had gone or not, and thought my medical knowledge was needed
I think Elinor was feeling a bit lonely in her old age, and being independent, could only contact the few people she did know through the telephone
I think she gained relieve and comfort from her religion being a devout catholic
When Sidney became ill, Phyllis decided she would take up driving and got our car( Rover 3 Litre automatic) converted with dual controls with the BMC, who were going to teach her to drive, but never did.
She hated wearing seatbelts, and would fall asleep on long journeys, and one day I stopped and refused to drive unless she belted up, as she was falling all over the place and this at a time when wearing seat belt was an option, not the law.
Another time we went to go out, and the car wouldn’t move, because she was sitting quite comfortable, with her walking sticks in her hands pushing firmly down on the dual brake pedal
What is ironic is that Phyllis’s niece (Chloe Dixon) married Peter Rutherford, the namesake of Elinor’s mother Eleanor Watson Rutherford
Phyllis and Sidney treated me as a son, and Elinor treated me as a nephew
RubyGates: comments that you lived with the Matthewman’s? Forgive me for being cynical but it's not hard to claim you lived with them, anyone could post that,
was a bit hurtful at first reading, as anybody could say what I have posted, so it was a surprise and shock to read the article on Albury Edge West, and to mention all the relevant facts that I had already put, including my name as being a member of the household
Obviously this information was gained by Electoral list, and we had moved about the mid 60’s.
Both Phyllis and Sidney were the tenants and Elinor and I were just staying with them


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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 08 Jun 2011, 20:57 
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This is fascinating Bryan - I can just see Elinor and Phyllis smoking away in their studies typing their books. Did they like a drop of whisky too? The pictures of the house are lovely, it must have been a very grand place when it was one house. Did the two of them get a lot of fan mail or even fans dropping in for autographs?


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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 08 Jun 2011, 22:10 
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Bryan, I can only apologise on behalf of everyone here that you were hurt at being interrogated. Your anecdotes are totally fascinating, obviously we are all huge fans of Elinor's books and it's amazing getting some insight from someone who knew her personally. Thanks so much for sharing with us. It's really appreciated.


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 Post subject: Re: Girls Own: Phyllis Matthewman
PostPosted: 08 Jun 2011, 22:13 
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When I first got to know Phyllis it was because of my interest in the Electrical side of the Drama Club.
Because I came from a poor background, Phyllis took me under her wing, and used to invite me over for meals in her house (Gervase Cottage) in the High Street in Merstham.
When Phyllis’s lease run out they moved up to Albury Edge West in Rockshaw Road Merstham, which is the up market end of Merstham.
The Matthewman’s Landlord was Peter and Sally Orum, who owned a fruit and veg store in Croydon.
Albury Edge was a large house (reputed to be the largest house built in Rockshaw Road) and a previous owner split into two separate houses because he thought that the two houses would sell easier as two separate houses rather than one over large house for the home market.
Albury Edge West was separated again into three separate properties one down, one up, and the garage flat
Phyllis and Sydney moved into the bottom part of the house, after it was converted again to allow a large bedroom, and study for Phyllis.
This property suited Sidney’s style of living and with his love of large cars, his Austin Sheerline looked impressive parked on the driveway or in the garage under the garage flat.
Because of a problem I had, Phyllis invited me to stay with them with the approval of Peter Orum, their landlord.
Remembering I was a young single man, who had not gained a close relationship with my own parents, so looked to Phyllis and Sydney as my pseudo parents, who didn’t smother me, and Elinor who was to motherly, which I couldn’t handle, so kept my distance
Deep down, I think Elinor had a heart of gold, but which was sometimes misplaced
Albury Edge West:
The Entrance you see had two front doors for the two separate properties, and the first window you see on the right was the bathroom, with the kitchen on the corner of the house
Going through the entrance hall was two rather grand looking doors which led to the sitting room on the left, and the bedroom cum study on the right.
The sitting room was a very large room with ornate woodwork and a rather impressive fireplace. At the back of the sitting room was an alcove with a low ceiling, which was the Dining Room, which had a patio door leading out on the terrace, which had tiered flower beds with a grand looking brick staircase leading down to the lawn.
Both Sidney and Phyllis enjoyed a drink of whiskey, or sherry depending on the time or situation, but would not overindulge, as it was of more sociable drinking, rather than a habit.
Elinor I believe was more of a sherry drinker, but again in moderation.
Elinor was an elderly lady, and dressed elderly, even down to the cammy knickers, I believe to her upbringing.
Although Sidney was a great influence to Elinor, I think her writing was from her experience with running her school, and her holiday she spent in the Austrian Tyrol at Pertisau-am-Achensee gave her the experience that she used in her writings In her later years she did become a bit wooly headed, but still managed to grasp inspiration to write her books
Both Phyllis and Elinor did receive fan mail, with Elinor’s being addressed to Sydney, he being her agent


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