Burgh, Anita 1937-
BURGH, Anita 1937-
(Anita Lorna Burgh, Annie Leith)
PERSONAL: Born June 9, 1937, in Gillingham, Kent, England; daughter of Frederick Clements Eldridge and Alice Milner; married Alex Leith, Lord Burgh, August 29, 1957 (divorced, 1982); partner of William Westall Jackson; children: (from marriage) two sons, one daughter; (with Jackson) Kate Rosalind Scarlett. Education: University College Hospital, London, studied nursing, 1955–57.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Mic Cheetham Agency, 11-12 Dover St., London W1X 3PH, England.
CAREER: Novelist, 1987–.
MEMBER: Romantic Novelists' Association, Society of Authors, Historical Novelists Association.
Distinctions of Class, Chatto and Windus (London, England), 1987.
Love: The Bright Foreigner, Chatto and Windus (London, England), 1988.
Advances, Macmillan (London, England), 1992.
Overtures, Macmillan (London, England), 1993.
Avarice, Macmillan (London, England), 1994.
The Cult, Orion (London, England), 1997.
On Call, Orion (London, England), 1998.
Lottery, Orion (London, England), 1998.
Breeders, Orion (London, England), 1999.
The Family, Orion (London, England), 2000.
Clare's War (historical novel), Orion (London, England), 2000.
Exiles, Orion (London, England), 2001.
The House at Harcourt (historical romance), Orion (London, England), 2002.
The Visitor (historical romance), Orion (London, England), 2003.
The Broken Gate (historical romance), Orion (London, England), 2004.
"DAUGHTER OF A GRANITE LAND" HISTORICAL ROMANCE TRILOGY
The Azure Bowl, Chatto and Windus (London, England), 1989.
The Golden Butterfly, Chatto and Windus (London, England), 1990.
The Stone Mistress, Chatto and Windus (London, England), 1991.
'TALES FROM SARSON MAGNA" SERIES; CONTEMPORARY ROMANCES; UNDER NAME ANNIE LEITH
Molly's Flashings, Chatto and Windus (London, England), 1991.
Hector's Hobbies, Chatto and Windus (London, England), 1991.
SIDELIGHTS: When Anita Burgh met her fiancée, Alex Leith, he seemed to be like her, a penniless student living as simply as possible. Only when they became engaged and went to visit his family at their Scottish estate did she realize that Leith was the future Lord Burgh and the son of a very wealthy woman. Many of her in-laws were scandalized by the marriage, particularly since Anita's own mother had been a servant in the kind of stately homes Lord Burgh grew up in. It was a sharp introduction to the unpleasant reality of the British class system, and many years later, after her divorce, it became the basis of Anita Burgh's first novel, Distinctions of Class. As she described it on her home page, the novel "It tells the tale of a working class girl who marries an aristocrat—which is exactly what I did. While it is a romantic novel it is also an angry one since it takes issue with the unfairness of the class structure in England and is heavily autobiographical." This first effort became a bestseller, and Burgh has gone on to write numerous novels—approximately one a year—with both historical and contemporary settings.
Burgh's popular "Daughter of a Granite Land" trilogy also draws upon her own experiences. Like many children, she was sent out of London during the Blitz of World War II and went to live on an estate in Cornwall. This house became the inspiration for Gwenfer, a stately home that is at the center of the trilogy, which stretches from Victorian times to the end of World War II. Much of the authentic details come from stories her mother told about serving in grand estates during the Edwardian era.
Clare's War takes place in France during World War II. Estranged from her family, Clare finds herself alone and caught up in the resistance during the Nazi occupation. For Charlotte Austin Review contributor Merilyn Tomkins, the result is "a worthwhile read, and an interesting insight into the risks" people "were prepared to take to obtain arms and fight for liberation." Other titles are more contemporary. Advances centers on the world of writers' workshops and a middle-aged woman, Kate Howard, who decides to write her first novel. Overtures describes the intense sibling rivalry between two sisters, an opera singer and a rock star, against the backdrop of the 1960s pop culture. Exiles finds Kate Howard living in France and describes a community of expatriate writers.
Burgh returns to the early twentieth century in The Broken Gate, first in a planned trilogy. As the nineteenth century gives way to the twentieth, the family of Sir Mortimer Cresswell gathers around his deathbed. When he recovers unexpectedly, his dysfunctional family is plunged into a series of intrigues and lies, especially when a wealthy newcomer enters the neighborhood seemingly bent on destroying the Cresswell family. According to Chatshow Network Online contributor Roz Clarke, the author "weaves a rich tapestry of life as it was early last century. Her characters are human and absorbing both in their power and their frailties."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Charlotte Austin Review, July 31, 2000, Merilyn Tomkins, review of Clare's War.
Anita Burgh Home Page, http://www.anitaburgh.com (June 3, 2005).
Chatshow Network Online, http://www.chatshow.net/ (October 12, 2004), Roz Clarke, review of The Broken Gate.
MemorableTV.com, http://www.memorabletv.com/ (June 3, 2005), review of The Visitor.