Norah Burke has been on my radar for many years and it was only last night that I finally managed to track down her death. I think I first noted her name as a writer for Gerald G. Swan. Some years later, Cliff Lewis mentioned her in connection with his publishing company Curzon, which published romances—some reprinted from serials in women's magazines—under rather more saucy titles for the original paperback market. Ever since her name has popped up in various contexts... as a writer for Look and Learn, for instance, and now with a story in The Children's Newspaper. Time, I thought, to gather together everything I knew.
Norah Aileen Burke was born in Bedford on August 2, 1907, her parents—who had lived in India for many years—returning especially for her birth. The family returned to India when the baby Norah was only two months old, and she spent the next twelve years travelling around the jungle at the foothills of the Himalayas where her father, Redmond St. George Burke, was a forest officer with the Imperial Forest Service. Constantly changing camps, carrying their belongings by elephant, made education difficult, but she learned to write at the age of eight, and started writing stories straight away. She also read as much as she could, including bound volumes of Chums and Boy’s Own Paper, and even wrote and edited her own little magazine entitled The Monthly Dorrit.
She returned to England in 1919 to attend a school in Devonshire, and lived her family home at The Auberies, Bulmer, near Sudbury, in Suffolk. Her first novel, Dark Road, was published in 1933, Burke drawing on her own background for the book's settings of Suffolk and India. After a second novel dealing with a European dictator (The Scarlet Vampire), she wrote Merry England, which was set in historical Suffolk.
Her next few novels, romances, appeared from Gerald Swan during the war and post-war years and, according to an article published in The Writer in January 1950, she had by then published 11 novels and her short stories and articles had appeared in more than 100 periodicals. Her work was published in France, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Irish Free State, Australia, America and Canada. In 1954, she was the winner of the New York Herald Tribune World Short Story Contest.
As well as fiction, Norah Burke was also an enthusiastic travel writer, relating many of her early adventures in autobiographical travel books Jungle Child (1956), Tiger Country (1965) and Eleven Leopards (1965). She also wrote about wildlife in King Todd (1963) and The Midnight Forest (1966) and numerous short stories. She collaborated with her father on his book of big game hunting and camp life in the Indian jungles, Jungle Days (1935).
She married Henry Humphrey R. Methwold Walrond (1904-1987), a lawyer, and had two sons. She lived for many years at Thorne Court., in Cockfield, near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. She died in 1976.
Dark Road. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1933.
Merry England. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1934.
The Scarlet Vampire. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1936.
Dreams Come True. London, Gerald Swan, Feb 1943.
The Awakened Heart. London, Gerald Swan, Mar 1944.
Gold Temple Bells. London, Gerald Swan, Nov 1949.
Hazelwood. London, Hodder & Stoughton, Jul 1953; as The Splendour Falls, New York, Morrow, 1953.
Not as Others. London, [publisher?], 1956.
Novels as Andre Lamour
Harem Captive. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Dec 1946.
Desert Passion. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Nov 1947.
Dusky Bridegroom. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Dec 1947.
No Wedding Ring. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Feb 1948.
Pin-Up for Michael. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Aug 1948.
Take My Love!. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Sep 1948.
Novels as Paul Lestrange
Slave to Passion. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Aug 1948.
Tarnished Angel. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Sep 1948.
Collections Jungle Picture. A picture of the vast forests of India, along with the foot-hills of the Himalayas in short stories. London, Cassell, 1960.
Jungle Days, with R. St. George Burke. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1935.
Jungle Child (autobiography). London, Cassell & Co., Feb 1956; New York, W. W. Norton, 1956; abridged, London, Cassell (Red Lion Readers 2), 1966.
King Todd. The true story of a wild badger, illus. D. J. Watkins-Pitchford. London, Putnam, 1963.
Tiger Country. London, Putnam, 1965.
Eleven Leopards. A journey through the jungles of Ceylon. London, Jarrolds, 1965.
The Midnight Forest. A true story of wild animals. London, Jarrolds, 1966.
Parables of the Gospel [Homiliae], by Saint Gregory, translated by Nora Burke. Dublin, Scepter, 1960.
The Faith Applied [Vivre le christianisme], by Jean Daujat, translated by Norah Burke. Dublin, Scepter, 1963.
(* The Children's Newspaper © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd.)