Shute, Nerina 1908-2004

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SHUTE, Nerina 1908-2004

OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born July 17, 1908, in Prudhoe, Northumberland, England; died October 20, 2004, in London, England. Critic, journalist, and author. Shute became famous in the early days of Hollywood as a talented film critic and columnist whose pen was known to make or break many a movie career. Born in England, she was brought to Hollywood, California, by her mother when she was just twelve years old. Over the next four years, Shute fell in love with the magic and excitement of early Hollywood, but she had to return to England after her mother lost the family's money by investing in a gold mine near San Diego. Back in London, Shute found a job at the Times Book Club and then moved on to Film Weekly, where she impressed her editor with her frank and sometimes brutal commentaries on Hollywood personalities. She was soon hired as a film columnist, and her articles became a powerful tool that was known to ruin acting careers. Because of this reputation, the director Alfred Hitchcock once refused to allow Shute onto his set; the reporter got around this by disguising herself as a young boy, and she managed to infiltrate Hitchcock's sets and get all the gossip of the goings on there. Her novel Another Man's Poison, was published in 1931, and in the 1930s Shute moved from Film Weekly to write for the Daily Express, the Sunday Referee, and, beginning in 1935, the Sunday Dispatch. In addition to her film column, she started reporting on more serious subjects, such as social issues in Russia. Also during the late 1930s, she was a publicist for Max Factor. A marriage to James Wentworth Day ended in divorce after a year, and Shute, who was bisexual, started relationships with several women. During World War II, she contributed to the war effort as an ambulance driver. She married journalist Howard Marshall around that time, and the two had a strong relationship during most of World War II, but it ended in divorce. With the war and her marriage over, she turned to writing biographies and historical novels, finding happiness again in a relationship with Phyllis Haylor, until Haylor's death in 1981. Shute wrote about her remarkable life in The Escapist Generations: My London Story (1973) and Passionate Friendships (1992); among her other notable works are the biographies Victorian Love Story (1954), Georgian Lady, and Poet Pursued.

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

periodicals

Daily Telegraph (London, England), October 28, 2004.

Guardian (London, England), November 2, 2004, p. 27.

Independent (London, England), October 29, 2004, p. 42.

Times (London, England), November 6, 2004, p. 86.