Bowden, Jean 1925-
BOWDEN, Jean 1925-
(Barbara Annandale, Tessa Barclay, Jocelyn Barry, Jennifer Bland, Avon Curry, Belinda Dell, Lee MacKenzie)
PERSONAL: Born 1925 (some sources say 1928), in Edinburgh, Scotland.
ADDRESSES: Home—138 Himley Rd., London SW17, England. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Headline Book Publishing, Headline House, 79 Great Titchfield St., London W1P 7FN, England.
CAREER: Panther Books, editorial assistant, 1957-59; Four Square Books, editorial assistant, 1959-61; Armada Books, editorial assistant, 1961-62; Woman's Mirror magazine, London, England, feature writer, 1962-64; Woman's Own, London, assistant fiction editor, 1964-71; Mills & Boon Ltd., London, editorial consultant, 1971—.
UNDER PSEUDONYM TESSA BARCLAY
The Breadwinner, W. H. Allen (London, England), 1982.
Garland of War, W. H. Allen (London, England), 1983.
Gleam of Gold, Headline (London, England), 1992.
A Hidden Beauty, Headline (London, England), 1993.
A Professional Woman, Headline (London, England), 1993.
A Lovely Illusion, Severn House (London, England), 2001.
Farewell Performance, Severn House (London, England), 2002.
A True Likeness, Severn House (London, England), 2002.
A Better Class of Person, Severn House (London, England), 2003.
The Silver Lining, Severn House (London, England), 2003.
"CRAIGALLANS" SERIES; UNDER PSEUDONYM TESSA BARCLAY
A Sower Went Forth, W. H. Allen (London, England), 1980.
The Stony Places, W. H. Allen (London, England), 1981.
Harvest of Thorns, W. H. Allen (London, England), 1983.
The Good Ground, W. H. Allen (London, England), 1984.
"WINE WIDOW" TRILOGY; UNDER PSEUDONYM TESSA BARCLAY
The Wine Widow, W. H. Allen (London, England), 1984, also published as A Woman's Intuition, Richardson & Steirman (New York, NY), 1987.
The Champagne Girls, W. H. Allen (London, England), 1986.
The Last Heiress, W. H. Allen (London, England), 1987.
"CORVILL WEAVERS" TRILOGY
A Web of Dreams, W. H. Allen (London, England), 1988.
Broken Threads, W. H. Allen (London, England), 1989.
The Final Pattern, W. H. Allen (London, England), 1990.
UNDER PSEUDONYM BELINDA DELL
Lake of Silver, Mills & Boon (London, England), 1974.
Dancing on My Heart, Mills & Boon (London, England), 1974.
Stars over Sentosa, Mills & Boon (London, England), 1975.
UNDER PSEUDONYM LEE MACKENZIE
The Brothers, Sphere (London, England), 1975. (With Margaret Powell) Beryl's Lot, Wingate (London, England), 1977.
Emmerdale Farm, the Legacy, Wingate (London, England), 1977.
A Sad and Happy Summer, Star (London, England), 1978.
Whispers of Scandal, Star (London, England), 1979.
Early Days of Emmerdale Farm, Star (London, England), 1979.
The Couple at Demdyke Row, Star (London, England), 1979.
Lucky for Some, Star (London, England), 1980.
Shadows from the Past, Star (London, England), 1980.
Face Value, Fontana (Glasgow, Scotland), 1980.
Innocent Victim, Fontana (London, England), 1981.
False Witness, Fontana (London, England), 1981.
The Homecoming, Fontana (London, England), 1982.
Old Flames, Fontana (Glasgow, Scotland), 1982.
Wedding Bells, Fontana (London, England), 1983.
Family Feuds, Fontana (London, England), 1984.
Young Passions, Severn House (London, England), 1985.
Another Door Opens, Fontana (London, England), 1986.
(As Barbara Annandale) High Barbaree, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1980.
(As Jean Bowden) Wendy Craig's Nanny, Granada (London, England), 1981.
The Saturday Girl, G. K. Hall (Thorndike, ME), 1998.
Dayton and Daughter, Headline (London, England), 1999.
Also author of Nanny, and, with F. and P. Spencer, Come Dancing: The Ceaseless Challenge. Author of Summer in the City under the pseudonym Jocelyn Barry. Author of Accomplice under the pseudonym Jennifer Bland. Author of A Place of Execution, Next Stop Gretna, and Hunt for Danger under the pseudonym Avon Curry. Author of Where the Rata Blossoms, The Cruise of Curacoa, The Dancing Years (with B. Irvine), The Vermillion Gateway, Shack Up, Change Partners, Flowers for the Festival, and The Darling Pirate (under the pseudonym Belinda Dell). Author of The Bonnet Laird's Daughter under the pseudonym Barbara Annandale.
SIDELIGHTS: Jean Bowden was born in England in 1928. She began her career as an editorial assistant for Panther Books in 1957. In 1959 she worked for Four Square Books, and in 1961 she worked for Armada Books. She was a feature writer for Woman's Mirror, a London magazine, from 1962-64. From 1964-67, she was the assistant fiction editor for the London magazine Woman's Own. Since 1971 she has worked as an editorial consultant for Mills & Boon Ltd. in London, where she makes her home.
Bowden has written under a number of pseudonyms and in various genres of fiction. She is probably best known as Tessa Barclay, under which she has written many historical romances and a few suspense novels. She has also written romance, gothic, dance, and ballet novels under her own name and the pseudonyms Barbara Annandale, Jocelyn Barry, Jennifer Bland, Avon Curry, Belinda Dell, and Lee MacKenzie.
In 1980, as Tessa Barclay, Bowden published the first in her series of books based on the Craigallan family. A Sower Went Forth begins the story of Rob Craiga'lan a poor Scottish immigrant who marries well and begins dealing in finance. The next three books in the saga, The Stony Places, Harvest of Thorns, and The Good Ground, trace the family through continuing generations amidst the backdrop of World War I, English society, and in the final book, Hollywood. Historical characters make small appearances throughout the works, including President McKinley, Nancy Astor, Alexander Graham Bell, Emma Goldman, Sylvia Pankhurst, Louella Parsons, Sergei Eisenstein, Irving Thalberg, and Upton Sinclair.
Bowden continued as Barclay, publishing another family saga between 1984 and 1987 called the "Wine Widow" trilogy. The Wine Widow, the first of the three, also titled A Woman's Intuition, tells the story of a French peasant girl named Nicole who marries into the rich Tramont family. After the early death of her husband, Nicole takes over the family wine business and single-handedly revolutionizes the champagne business while raising her daughters and illegitimate son. In The Champagne Girls, Nicole becomes the matriarch of the family and the story follows the lives of her granddaughters, Netta and Gaby, against the backdrop of the Dreyfus affair and World War I. In The Last Heiress the story shifts to Netta's daughter Nora who is to inherit the family business and, like her great-grandmother, also becomes a widow. A British Book News critic described The Wine Widow as "a highly readable novel, packed with good characters, suspense and dramatic incident." However, reviewing the American edition, A Woman's Intuition, for Publishers Weekly, a contributor stated, "Barclay seems to have had a hard time deciding whether she was writing a light, frothy romance or a dark historical novel." A contributor for Kirkus Reviews wrote, "Slightly less bubbly than the estate's wine, the story of the wayward daughters here has a passion that compensates for the rather more ordinary (and decidedly trite, by genre) exploits of their mother." Mark Knoblauch of Booklist found it to be "a breezy, dramatic, and satisfying story."
As Barclay, Bowden published another family trilogy from 1988 to 1990 called the "Corvill Weavers" trilogy. A Web of Dreams, Broken Threads, and The Final Pattern follow the story of Jenny Corvill, the daughter of an Edinburgh weaver, who obtains a royal commission to produce a weave for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The books follow Jenny and the lives and loves of her family as her business prospers.
As Barclay, Bowden has also published a number of single novels. The Breadwinner is the story of a successful business woman, Margaret Durley, and the role reversal that occurs in her marriage when her husband decides to stay at home with their son. The arrangement works well until Margaret loses her job, along with her self-worth. Garland of War is the story of Linda Thackerly, a young girl who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer and ends up being the artistic director of her own company. In A Professional Woman, Barclay portrays a young girl's struggle to become a doctor in the early twentieth century.
Bowden has continued to publish a number of romances under the Barclay pseudonym. In 2001, she published A Lovely Illusion. This is the story of Erica, who along with her art-gallery-owner lover, finds a painting that appears to be by Claude Monet. Before they can discover the truth about the painting, they are approached by a handsome buyer, with whom Erica finds herself falling in love. John Charles of Booklist wrote, "An engaging heroine, side trips to various European locales, and a captivating art world setting are just a few of the ingredients British author Barclay mixes into her latest contemporary romance." In 2002, Barclay published A True Likeness, about a solicitor who helps a woman find her missing daughter, and in the process gets caught up in the intricacies of the situation. In 2003, she published The Silver Lining, the story of a travel agent who, after escorting a child on a flight to Paris, finds herself involved in a custody battle as she is falling in love with the child's father. Emily Melton of Booklist called it "a pleasant, engaging, entertaining tale from one of Britain's most popular romance writers."
Bowden, as Barclay, also has been writing within the mystery and suspense genre. In 2002, she published Farewell Performance, which follows concert agent and former prince of Hirtenstein Gregory Crowne as he organizes the Edinburgh Festival. Things begin to go wrong when a famous Stradivarius cello is stolen and become even worse when a suspect is murdered. Rex E. Klett of Library Journal concluded, "Much satisfying entertainment arises from this conglomeration of musical egos and clever confusion of cellos." John Charles of Booklist observed, "Though she is better known for her romance fiction, British author Barclay also shows a talent for the mystery genre with this excellent choice for readers who like civilized mysteries with an old-fashioned flavor." In 2003, she published A Better Class of Person, a mystery where she again follows the story of Gregory Crowne. In this tale Crowne travels along with his girlfriend to a Greek island for a birthday party of an heiress he has known since youth. Once there they are disturbed by her changed appearances, her strange behavior and that of her husband and nurse. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews described it as "a pipe dream of upscale fantasy with little mystery, less suspense, and no romance to speak of, but a good deal of hobnobbing with the rich and formerly titled." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly stated, "Although the mystery is more a what-was-done than a whodunit, it is a pleasant, old-fashioned puzzle with attractive contemporary trappings." Emily Melton of Booklist observed, "Despite predictable characters and an often implausible plot, there's actually something quite appealing about this novel."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 1987, Mark Knoblauch, review of A
Woman's Intuition, p. 1649; July, 2001, John Charles, review of A Lovely Illusion, p. 1990; September 15, 2001, Donna Seaman, review of A Lovely Illusion, p. 203; January 1, 2002, John Charles, review of Farewell Performance, p. 816; August, 2002, John Charles, review of A True Likeness, p. 1934; January 1, 2003, Emily Melton, review of A Better Class of Person, p. 854; October 15, 2003, Emily Melton, review of The Silver Lining, p. 395.
British Book News, August, 1985, review of The Wine Widow, p. 489.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1987, review of A Woman's Intuition, pp. 656-657; February 1, 2003, review of A Better Class of Person, p. 184.
Library Journal, February 1, 2003, Rex E. Klett, review of Farewell Performance, p. 135.
Publishers Weekly, June 12, 1987, review of A Woman's Intuition, p. 73; January 14, 2002, review of Farewell Performance, p. 44; February 10, 2003, review of A Better Class of Person, p. 166.
Severn House, http://www/severnhouse.com/ (October 22, 2003), synopsis of The Silver Lining, A Better Class of Person, and A True Likeness.*