I'm filling in a bit as it has been a long day and I don't really want to start something new. So I thought I'd share this -- the story of a woman with six names.
There was a lot of too-ing and fro-ing between people so I'm not claiming the resolution was down to me: John Herrington, Al Hubin and Victor Berch deserve equal credit.
The whole thing started with a book called Sylvia Shale, Detective (London, Hurst & Blackett, 1924) by Mrs Sydney Groom. Who, someone wondered, was Mrs Groom?
Well, she was the wife of Sydney H. Groom and her name was Kathleen Clarice, formerly Dealtry. Such a simple solution. But wait... there's more.
Kathleen Clarice Dealtry was her married name. She had married Herbert Arthur Berkeley Dealtry in 1902 and for a while wrote stories under the name Kit Dealtry. Prior to her marriage she was called Klein because she'd previously married Hermann Klein on 19 February 1890 and for some years she was known as Clarice Naomi Klein. "Clarice Naomi" (or some variation) was probably the name under which she was writing at the time because she was born Kathleen Clarice Louise Cornwell in Melbourne, Australia, on 11 March 1872, the daughter of George Cornwell and his wife Emma (nee Redpath) who had married in 1851. George was a railway guard who became a gold prospector in Australia, running several mines. His daughter, Alice Cornwell, born in 1852, did a great deal to assist him and, by the 1890s had become spectacularly wealthy, returning to England where she bought the Sunday Times newspaper.
In 1891, the 19-year-old 'Clarice' was living with her husband Herman (whose name sometimes drops the second 'n') and Herman's daughter from a previous marriage, Sylvia. The couple had three children, Adrian (b. 1892), Daryl (b. c.1894/5) and Denise (b. 1897). Unfortunately, for Herman, a journalist and Professor of music, his wife began an affair with an officer attached to the Worcestershire Regiment called Berkeley Dealtry. Dealtry was considerably younger than her husband (Herman, of Russian ancestry, had been born in Norwich, Norfolk, in 1856; Dealtry was born in Clevedon, Somerset, in 1878) and Herman, on discovering their affair, petitioned for a divorce, granted in December 1901.
The lovers married but became involved in a long, drawn-out court case in 1905 over a number of prize dog shows held a couple of years earlier. I'll be brief (because I'm sure you're all already dozing off): The Ladies' Kennel Association had, for some years, been running unsuccessful shows, setting up new shows and using the subscriptions to pay off the prize money for the previous show. All shows had to be approved by the Kennel Club and, after two particularly poor shows in 1902, the KC refused to grant them a license for another show. Mrs Stennard Robinson -- Kathleen Dealtry's sister, Alice -- was a leading light in both the Ladies' Kennel Association (which celebrated its 100th anniverary in 2004) and the National Cat Club and was determined to keep things moving. She persuaded her sister and brother-in-law to apply to the Kennel Club as a front to hold a prize dog show. This they did, and rather successful it was, too. But the money never found its way to the Dealtrys, who were then persuaded to hold a second show to pay off prize money owed on the first. After the second show, a number of prize winners took out actions against the Dealtrys which resulted by Herbert Dealtry being declared bankrupt.
The Dealtrys tried to sue the Ladies' Kennel Association but were unsuccessful and, immediately after the failed court case, left for America with Kathleen's daughter, Denise.
Some of Kit Dealtry's stories began appearing in The All-Story Magazine, including a couple of novel-length stories, 'The Voice in the Dark' (May 1907), 'The Cipher Skull' (Aug 1907) and the serial 'Shadowed' (Feb-May 1908).
They appear to have lived in America for a couple of years but, by 1908, Kit Dealtry can be found living in London and, in 1909-10, in Norwood, at the time writing Christian novels for a publisher named Carruthers.
Under the Mistletoe Bough. Carruthers, 1908.
Ill-Gotten Gain. Carruthers, 1909.
In 1918 she married again and, as Mrs Sydney Groom, wrote at least three books:
Love In The Darkness. London, Skeffington & Son, 1918.
Shadows Of Desires. London, 1919.
Detective Sylvia Shale. London, Hurst & Blackett, 1924.
The latter was derived from the earlier Kit Dealtry serial 'Shadowed', dating back to 1908.
As K. C. Groom she also wrote:
The Folly of Fear. London, Hurst & Blackett, 1947.
Phantom Fortune. London, 1948.
The Recoil. London, Hutchinson, 1952.
Kathleen Groom died in the Brighton/Hove area in 1954, aged 82. It's possible, even probable, that she wrote a great deal more over the years than the above gives her credit for. After all, someone who was variously known as...
Kathleen Clarice Cornwell
Clarice Naomi Klein
Kathleen Clarice Dealtry
Kathleen Clarice Groom
Mrs. Sydney Groom
K. C. Groom
... may well have used one or two pseudonyms along the way.
Update: 15 September
John Herrington has managed to track down an obituary for the mysterious Mrs. Groom which mentions that she "went to an English boarding school at the age of 15. Soon afterwards she took to short story writing, and later wrote several serial thrillers for a leading Scottish newspaper. She then became household-page editor of a Sunday newspaper."
"The obituary also says she did not live to see her last book, a thriller, published though it had been accepted by a publisher before she died," says John. "Was this ever actually published? Her last known book, The Recoil, was published in 1952 -- two years before she died."
If it was published it was presumably under a pen-name or part of a pocket library series that has yet to be indexed (and there are many!).
One very interesting discovery made by John through the obituary is that Kathleen Clarice Groom handed down her writing talents to at least two of her children. Adrian Bernard Klein, who changed his name to Adrian Cornwell-Clyne and became a Major (in 1921), MBE and FRPS, was an artist and wrote books on photography and 3-D cinematography. He died on 18 April 1969. In 1932, Klein (as he was still known as then) gave a demonstration of a new instrument called a "colour organ" which "was able to project at the will of the player every possible coloured tone in any succession, order or speed." And here's me listening to Pink Floyd while I write this!
Meanwhile, Denise Naomi Klein married Arthur Robins and began writing under the name Denise Robins and at least six pen-names. She wrote at least 164 books and was dubbed by the Daily Graphic "the queen of romantic fiction".