Friday, November 02, 2007

Anne Weale

I woke this morning to some sad news for the world of romance.

Anne Weale, who for fifty years wrote ground breaking romances for Mills & Boon, died on 24 October.

After selling short stories to a woman's magazine while still at school, Anne Weale became a newspaper reporter, the traditional training for a novelist. An enthusiastic traveller, she used authentic foreign backgrounds for her romances -- most famously, Antigua Kiss. She was, however, proudest of her "Longwarden" novels, Flora, All My Worldly Goods and Time & Chance which readers are still discovering in libraries and used book shops.From 1998-2004, Anne wrote a website review column, Bookworm on the Net, for The Bookseller, the UK's leading book trade press magazine.

Her first book, Winter is Past, was published in 1955, before I went to school. Her last,The Man from Madrid came out in 2002 and in between were almost 80 other titles, some short romances, some longer 'single title'fiction.

In May 2005, she started a book-blog at Her work-in-progress is an autobiography called "88 Heroes…1 Mr Right" which now sadly will not be finished.

Anne Weale was a major force in English and international romantic fiction. She has a huge amount of knowledge and the publishing industry and was one of the novelists who was hugely successful in the days when Mills & Boon was run by Mr Charles Boon. I first met her at one of the earliest AMBA lunches that I ever went to where she was warm and welcoming and interested in a newcomer to the authors' ranks.

It's fairly well known that Anne and I didn't agree over everything. We had disagreements over the way that romance writing was going, and she would never agree with my interest in and encouragement of 'new writers'. But those disagreements led to interesting debates and assessments of the world of writing and publishing that are ineveitable as times change and I am glad that I encountered her lively - and occasionally acerbic mind in both written and verbal debate. A tiny, birdlike, elegant figure at AMBA lunches and HMB receptions, she had a grasp of life and an enthusiasm for living and learning that I admired hugely. She was the only elderly writer who could get away with calling the BM 'young man' and describing me as 'this girl'.

I always said that in many ways, Anne Weale was the person I wanted to be when I grew up.

Sometimes she irritated me, often she exasperated me, but she also taught me a lot, made me look at my own opinions and stand up for them. And she was writing in the genre I love when I was a very small child, making her way in the world of journalism and publishing at a time when women had a far harder fight to do so than anything I have ever encountered.

She was a woman and a writer to admire. A major name in romance publishing.I am truly glad to have known her.
And I shall miss her very much.
Her family have asked for no letters but I hope they find some of the tributes that appear on the web like this one and the one on Liz Fielding's blog.


Anonymous said...

Very sad news Kate. I read many of her books when I was in my teens.


juliemt said...

Anne Weale was a huge favourite of mine. She wrote some of my all time favourite category romances such as Frangipani, Sullivan's Reef and The Feast of Sara.

Romance has lost one of its greats and even though many years have passed since i read some of her books, I shall always treasure the Anne Weale titles in my collection

felinewyvern said...

She was my very first M&B author and I am sad that she has passed on - my condolences to her family and you for losing a friend.

Sandra Schwab said...

Oh, this is so sad. Anne Weale's Castle in Corsica was among the old Harlequin novels I found in a dark and dusty corner of the English Bookstore in Mainz several years ago. It's still one of my favourite romances.

Anne McAllister said...

Anne Weale was a fantastic storyteller and a very strong advocate for women doing what was important to them in whatever field of endeavor they wished. I enjoyed her friendship enormously and I am happy to have been able to count her among my friends. I admired her tenacity and her strong views, even when I didn't always agree with her. But she liked nothing better than a good argument, so even disagreements were fun when they were with Anne.

lidia said...

So sad! Over the years I've read quite a few of Anne's books.


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