Marr-Johnson, Diana 1908-2007 (Diana Maugham Marr-Johnson, Diana Maugham, Diana Julia Maugham)

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Marr-Johnson, Diana 1908-2007 (Diana Maugham Marr-Johnson, Diana Maugham, Diana Julia Maugham)


See index for CA sketch: Born September 16, 1908, in London, England; died June 14, 2007. Social advocate, novelist, and playwright. Marr-Johnson was well known for her charitable activities on behalf of the poor. During World War II she opened a meeting place in London called Beauchamp Lodge, where poor women could find respite from the grinding poverty and shocking living conditions that surrounded them. It wasn't long before the lodge became a sort of women's club, then added a nursery center, youth shelter, and the British equivalent of a soup kitchen. Marr-Johnson devoted much time and effort to keep the refuge open by raising funds, delivering public lectures, and working at the center itself. Eventually Beauchamp Lodge collected clothing and found housing for people displaced by wartime bombings during the Blitz; its founder's efforts were so successful that the lodge remains in operation today. The other side of Marr-Johnson's life took place far from the poverty of Beauchamp Lodge. She enjoyed modest success as a novelist and playwright, though many readers never realized that she was the beloved niece of literary giant W. Somerset Maugham and the sister of novelist Robin Maugham. That was reportedly the way that Marr-Johnson wanted it. Raised among the nobility, she married a chartered surveyor, whose surname name enabled her to write with relative anonymity when she chose. When she was occasionally linked to her "Uncle Willie," however, she defended him vigorously against his detractors. Marr-Johnson enjoyed an active social life among the British upper crust, from the Churchills to authors Noel Coward, Rebecca West, and Muriel Spark. Her own novels include Rhapsody in Gold, Bella North, and Goodnight Pelican, all written under the name Diana Maugham; later, as Diana Marr-Johnson she wrote Face of a Stranger, Faces My Fortune, and Take a Golden Spoon. She also wrote plays and contributed articles and short stories to various magazines.



Times (London, England), June 18, 2007, p. 51.