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Camden New Journal - OBITUARY
Published: 5 March 2009

Diana Raymond
‘Diana’s stature grew as she began to write her poetry’

FRIENDS and family of the novelist Diana Raymond gathered last Thursday to celebrate her life. The Hampstead-based writer, who passed away two weeks ago, had published 24 novels as well as writing poetry and plays.
Her son Peter spoke at the service in St John at Hampstead in Church Row, where Diana was a member of the congregation and lived for many years in a flat in the street.
He recalled how his mother had helped his father Ernest – who was also a writer – type his books before she started producing her own work.
“My father was not a good typist,” he said. “I can hear protestations coming from the study each time he made a mistake.
“My mother got so fed up with it she said: I’ll type your books for you.”
She drew on skills she had learnt as a young woman – she had studied Pitman’s shorthand and touch-typing.
Diana was born in 1916 and her officer father was killed during the First World War.
She was given a place at the highly rated Gloucestershire private school, Cheltenham Ladies College, paid for by an army fund to support the families who had lost relatives in the war.
Her passion for drama started at an early age – as a young girl she would sneak into to the New Theatre in the West End to see Sir John Geilgud perform Hamlet. Peter also recalled his mother had written a play to mark the bicentenary of the birth of poet John Keats.
BBC radio producer and New Journal contributor Piers Plowright, whose father was Diana’s doctor, had known Diana for most of his life – he grew up in Church Row where she lived with Ernest in 1940.
“She was at first overshadowed by her husband’s reputation,” he said, “but her own stature soon grew as she produced novels and poetry.”
Mr Plowright added: “Diana recalled sitting in their top floor flat and watching the searchlights in the grounds of Kenwood try to pick out German planes and watching the gun barrage that came to greet them.”
She would also refuse to go into the basement of their Hampstead home when the air-raid sirens started: “I’d rather like to come down with the mansions than have them come down on top of me,” she told her husband.
Diana and Ernest moved into The Pryors on East Heath Road in 1941. Although Ernest passed away in 1974, Diana continued to live there – residing in the block longer than anyone else.
Granddaughters Catherine and Helen both spoke of Diana’s wisdom. Catherine said: “She will be remembered for her kindness, her passion for the arts and the support she gave people she loved.”
Dan Carrier

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