Monica Enid (Dickens) Stratton (1915 - 1992)


Monica Enid (Dickens) Stratton Biography & Family History

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Obituary: Monica Dickens
CHARLES PICK Thursday 31 December 1992
Monica Enid Dickens, writer, born 10 May 1915, founder of the Samaritans in the US 1974, MBE 1981, married Roy Stratton (died 1985; two adopted daughters Pamela Dickens-Swift and Prudence Stratton), died Reading, U.K. 25 December 1992.
Monica Dickens was one of the two or three best-selling woman's novelists of her generation.
A great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens, she was the daughter of Henry Dickens, barrister-at-law, and Fanny Runge. She was educated at St Paul's Girls' School, but was expelled after throwing her school uniform over Hammersmith Bridge. She joined a drama school before being presented at Court in 1935.
With no career training, she took jobs as cook-general in a variety of houses. Then at a chance meeting with a young publisher in 1937 she was encouraged to write a book about her experiences below stairs. Within six weeks she completed her first book, One Pair of Hands, which has never been out of print since publication in 1939. Compton Mackenzie recognised her talent and wrote a foreword, and the book was widely reviewed - Malcolm Muggeridge among others praised it highly.
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Her first novel, Mariana, followed in 1940, and then in 1942, after she had taken up hospital nursing as her war work, One Pair of Feet, based on her experiences at the hospital in Windsor. Before this was published, Dickens moved to a factory as a fitter making spare parts for Spitfires. Her novels The Fancy (1943) and Thursday Afternoons (1945) increased her reputation.
Praise came with every book: JB Priestley wrote 'Monica Dickens gets better and better', Rebecca West said 'It is life itself that is caught up in the pages of her books' and later, in a long article on her works, AS Byatt argued that she was much underestimated. John Betjeman declared that she was a novelist 'who has all the airs and graces a reader could wish for'.
Monica Dickens's novels appeared regularly and included The Happy Prisoner (1946: a Book Society Choice), Joy and Josephine (1948) and Flowers on the Grass (1949).
In 1951 she married Commander Roy Stratton, US Navy, and went to live in Washington, before settling in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, until Roy's death in 1985. Monica created a wonderful family life with two adopted daughters, Prudence and Pamela. Her house always seemed to be full of guests. She was very close to her parents and her sister, Doady, and they all came to stay regularly.
For 20 years Monica Dickens wrote a weekly column in Woman's Own and this brought her in touch with a large readership. Her articles were noted for their originality and her common-sense approach earned the respect of her readers. She read widely and during the 1940s she regularly reviewed fiction for the Sunday Chronicle. She loved the ballet and was friends with many dancers.
Her books continued with My Turn To Make the Tea (1951), based on her experiences as a junior reporter on a local newspaper, No More Meadows (1953), The Winds of Heaven (1955), The Angel in the Corner (1956), Man Overboard (1958), The Heart of London (1961), Cobbler's Dream (1963; bought by Yorkshire Television, resulting in a 30-part serial, Follyfoot), Kate and Emma (1964) - arguably her most accomplished novel - and The Room Upstairs (1966). Her popular success was explained not so much by her skills as a story-teller as by her ability to sketch characters that were convincing and immediately recognisable to the reader, and showed her humour and deep understanding of human behaviour.
Monica Dickens felt the challenge to write for children. This interest resulted in The House at World's End, Summer at World's End, World's End in Winter and Spring Comes to World's End (1970-73). She also wrote three novels based on the Follyfoot films, all of then immensely successful. In 1978 her autobiography, An Open Book, was published.
Other works were Last Year When I Was Young (1974) and four more books for children - The Messenger (1985), The Ballad of Favour (1985), Miracles of Courage (1985) and The Haunting of Bellamy 4 (1986). Her last novels were Dear Doctor Lily (1988), Enchantment (1989), Closed at Dusk (1990) and Scarred (1991). Her final novel, One of the Family, will be published next spring.
Her humour and her keen sense of observation, together with her understanding of other people's problems, led her eventually to become a Samaritan. She had a close friendship with an admiration for the Samaritans' founder, Dr Chad Varah. Her commitment to them led her to open a branch in Boston in 1974 and after considerable local opposition she persisted to make the Samaritans a thriving organisation throughout the United States. Her novel The Listeners (1970) was based on her knowledge of the Samaritans.
Monica Dickens loved riding and she kept horses until she came back to a small cottage in Berkshire, but she always had cats and dogs around her. Her many acts of loyalty and kindness will remain unrecorded, but there are many who were helped by Monica through difficult times of their lives.


Monica Stratton was born on in England United Kingdom


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She was expelled from school for tossing her uniform into a river!


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During World War II Monica Dickens worked in an aircraft factory repairing Spitfire fighters. One Pair of Feet (1942) was an account of her learning to be a hospital nurse during the war. The book concludes with Dickens's announcement that she will leave nursing to go and make tanks. The Happy Prisoner (1946), which was made into a play by John McNair, dealt with the relationship between a nurse, Elizabeth, and Oliver, a former officer who lost his leg in Arnheim in a battle and has a serious heart trouble. Oliver lives with his mother. Other members of the family include his sisters Violet and Heather with her son David. From the small details of their everyday life Dickens draws an optimistic picture of post-war England. Her experiences as a reporter on a local newspaper were recorded in the novel My Turn to Make the Tea (1951).

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Monica Stratton died on in Reading, Reading County, England United Kingdom

Cause of death: Cancer

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1915 - In the year that Monica Enid (Dickens) Stratton was born, the Superior Court in Fulton County Georgia accepted the charter for the establishment of the new Ku Klux Klan, succeeding the Klan that flourished in the South in the late 1800's. This iteration of the Klan adopted white clothing and used many of the code words from the first Klan, adding cross burnings and mass marches in an attempt to intimidate others.

1935 - At the age of 20 years old, Monica was alive when the BOI's name (the Bureau of Investigation) was changed to the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and it officially became a separate agency with the Department of Justice. J. Edgar Hoover, the Chief of the BOI, continued in his office and became the first Director of the FBI. The FBI's responsibility is to "detect and prosecute crimes against the United States".

1968 - By the time she was 53 years old, on January 31st, the North Vietnamese launched the Tet Offensive, a turning point in the Vietnam War. 70,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces swarmed into South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese and US troops held off the offensive but it was such fierce fighting that the U.S. public began to turn against the war.

1980 - Monica was 65 years old when on December 8th, ex-Beatle John Lennon was shot and killed by Mark David Chapman in front of his home - the Dakota - in New York City. Chapman was found guilty of murder and still remains in jail.

1992 - In the year of Monica Enid (Dickens) Stratton's passing, on February 1st, US President George Bush and President Boris Yeltsin of Russia jointly announced an end to the Cold War, proclaiming a new era of "friendship and partnership". At Camp David in Maryland, they reviewed ways to jointly reduce nuclear arms and support reforms in Russia but no agreement was reached at that meeting.

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Monica Stratton Obituary

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Monica Dickens, Prolific Author And Social Worker, Is Dead at 77
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS DEC. 27, 1992 New York Times

Monica Dickens, the author of more than 50 books and an organizer of a counseling group for depressed people, died on Friday at a hospital in Reading, England. She was 77.
Clare Harrington, a spokeswoman for Miss Dickens's publisher, Viking, said the author, who was a great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens, had had cancer and had entered the hospital in Reading, 36 miles west of London, for an operation. Further details on the cause of death were not immediately available.
Miss Dickens lived in the United States for 35 years and opened the first American branch of The Samaritans, a worldwide volunteer organization that counsels the depressed and suicidal.
She was born in London on May 10, 1915. Her father, Henry Charles Dickens, was a barrister and alderman, and her mother wanted her to enter society although she had been expelled from a private girls' school in London because she wouldn't wear the school uniform. The Debutante Char
Although Miss Dickens was presented as a debutante at the court of George V, she rebelled against society and took a series of domestic jobs, working below stairs, which inspired her first book. She was later employed as a nurse and newspaper reporter.
"I hated that life," Miss Dickens said in a 1977 interview about her coming out in London society in the middle of the Great Depression. "So I left home and moved into other people's basements as a char and a cook. I'd had a few cooking lessons in Paris, but mainly I learned as I went along."
"It was an escape route for me," she said. Her two years as a live-in servant provided the material for her first book, "One Pair Of Hands," which was published in 1939.
She later recounted that she met a publisher at a dance and after talking about her experiences as a domestic, he thought there might be a book in them. The publisher suggested, however, that her literary ancestry notwithstanding, Miss Dickens might have to find someone else do the actual writing. Miss Dickens said the publisher's suggestion presented her with an irresistible challenge. She wrote the book herself; it became a best seller and established her as a writer.
In World War II, Miss Dickens worked in a hospital and related those experiences in her novel, "A Pair of Feet."
In 1950, she married Roy Olin Stratton, a commander in the United States . Navy who wrote detective novels, and the couple moved to Cape Cod, where they lived until Mr. Stratton's death in 1985. Miss Dickens then returned to Britain and lived in a secluded cottage in Brightwalton, Berkshire, about 20 miles from Reading.
In the late 1960's, Miss Dickens became involved in the Samaritans' 24-hour telephone service to people in need of a sympathetic listener. In a 1970 novel, "The End of the Line," a character named Billie makes daily telephone calls to a volunteer at such a center in England.
In 1974, Miss Dickens opened the first United States branch of the Samaritans in Boston and later established a second center in Falmouth on Cape Cod.
Miss Dickens continued to produce a book a year until her death. Her latest book, "One of The Family," is scheduled for publication in May.
Miss Dickens is survived by two daughters Pamela and Prudence.


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Monica Dickens
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The cover of An Open Book, Dickens' 1978 autobiography
Monica Enid Dickens, MBE (10 May 1915 – 25 December 1992) was an English writer, the great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens.[1]

Known as "Monty" to her family and friends, she was born into an upper middle class London family to Henry Charles Dickens (1878–1966), a barrister, and Fanny (née Runge). She was the granddaughter of Sir Henry Fielding Dickens KC. Disillusioned with the world she was brought up in – she was expelled from St Paul's Girls' School in London before she was presented at court as a debutante – she decided to go into domestic service despite coming from the privileged class; her experiences as a cook and general servant would form the nucleus of her first book, One Pair Of Hands in 1939.

One Pair Of Feet (1942) recounted her work as a nurse, and subsequently she worked in an aircraft factory and on the Hertfordshire Express - a local newspaper in Hitchin; her experiences in the latter field of work inspired her 1951 book My Turn to Make the Tea.[2]

Soon after this, she moved from her home in Hinxworth in Hertfordshire to the United States after marrying a United States Navy officer, Roy O. Stratton, who died in 1985. They adopted two daughters, Pamela and Prudence. The family lived in Washington, D.C. and Falmouth, Massachusetts and she continued to write, most of her books being set in Britain. She was also a regular columnist for the British women's magazine Woman's Own for twenty years.

Dickens had strong humanitarian interests which were manifested in her work with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (reflected in her 1953 book No More Meadows and her 1964 work Kate and Emma), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (coming to the fore in her 1963 book Cobbler's Dream), and the Samaritans, the subject of her 1970 novel The Listeners – she helped to found the first American branch of the Samaritans in Massachusetts in 1974. From 1970 onwards she wrote a number of children's books; the Follyfoot series of books followed on from her earlier adult novel Cobbler's Dream, and were the basis of a children's TV series, also called Follyfoot, produced by Yorkshire Television for the UK's ITV network between 1971 and 1973 (and popular around the world for many years thereafter).[citation needed]

In 1978, Monica Dickens published her autobiography, An Open Book. In 1985 she returned to the UK after the death of her husband, and continued to write until her death on Christmas Day 1992, aged 77, her final book being published posthumously. She was also an occasional broadcaster for most of her writing career.

One Pair Of Hands (Michael Joseph, 1939; re-published by Penguin Books Ltd, Harmondsworth, and Penguin Books Pty Ltd, Mitcham, 1961, book number 1535)
Mariana (1940) (Republished in 1999 by Persephone Books)
One Pair Of Feet (1942)
Edward's Fancy (1943)
Thursday Afternoons (1945)
The Happy Prisoner (1946)
Yours Sincerely (1947). In collaboration with Beverley Nichols.
Joy and Josephine (1948)
Flowers on the Grass (1949)
My Turn to Make the Tea (1951)
No More Meadows (1953)
The Winds of Heaven (1955) Republished in 2010 by Persephone Books
The Angel in the Corner (1956)
Man Overboard (1958)
The Heart of London (1961)
Cobbler's Dream (1963) (republished in 1995 as New Arrival at Follyfoot)
The Room Upstairs (1964)
Kate and Emma (1965)
The Landlord's Daughter (1968)
The Listeners (1970)
Talking of Horses (1973) – non-fiction
Last Year When I Was Young (1974)
An Open Book (William Heinemann Ltd, 1978; re-published by Penguin Books, 1980, ISBN 0-14-005197-X) – autobiography
A Celebration (1984)
A View From The Seesaw (1986) Published by Dodd, Mead ISBN 978-0-396-08526-3
Dear Doctor Lily (1988)
Enchantment (1989)
Closed at Dusk (1990)
Scarred (1991)
One of the Family (1993)
Children's books[edit]
The World's End series:

The House at World's End (1970)
Summer at World's End (1971)
World's End in Winter (1972)
Spring Comes to World's End (1973)
The Follyfoot series:

Follyfoot (1971)
Dora at Follyfoot (1972)
The Horses of Follyfoot (1975)
Stranger at Follyfoot (1976)
The book Cobbler's Dream also contains the same characters as in the Follyfoot series.

The Messenger series:

The Messenger (1985)
Ballad of Favour (1985)
Cry of a Seagull (1986)
The Haunting of Bellamy 4 (1986)

The Great Escape (1975)

In late 1964 Dickens was visiting Australia to promote her works. It was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on 30 November 1964 that during a book signing session in Sydney she had been approached by a woman who handed her a copy of her book and enquired, presumably in a broad Australian accent, "How much is it?". Dickens reportedly misheard this as an instruction as to the name which she should include in the inscription ("Emma Chisit") and thus was born the phenomenon of "Strine" which filled the newspaper's letter columns and subsequently was the subject of a separate weekly article and, later, a series of humorous books.[3]
Jul 06, 2017 · Reply
I was her house guest for the weekend up at Northampton. She entered my room as a Cockney Maid and went through a whole "act" of inviting me to breakfast and really enjoyed my squeals of laughter. I could hardly breathe she was that funny!
Jul 06, 2017 · Reply
She was exceptionally kind, caring, warm and sympathetic. Her Samaritans rescued many people who were on the brink of suicide.
Jul 14, 2017 · Reply
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