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Sunday, January 15, 2012

B E M Ward

B. E. M. Ward was the author of a handful of small (4¾" x 7¼") books published by London-based Regency Press in 1945-46. I've never seen any of them but, via Morgan Wallace, I now have a scan of one of the covers, possibly the first book they published. The cover is by Doug who also signed his name Douglas on other similar chapbooks from the same period.

Having fruitlessly search for information on B. E. M. Ward previously, I was surprised that, spurred on by the arrival of the cover scan, I managed to discover something this time.

Not so much about Regency Press. They were based at 32 Coptic Street, London W.C.1 and the only contemporary reference to someone at that address I could find was for the curiously named Nugent H. Cocks in the 1946 London phone book (phone number MUSEUM 8872), who appears to have remained at that address until 1951.

Nugent Harold Togo Cocks was born in Southfields, London, on 29 December 1904, the son of James Cocks and his wife Margaret Elizabeth. and grew up in Wandsworth. He married twice, first to Eva North (or Mitchley) in 1933, who died in April 1974; and secondly to Joan D. May, in 1977, shortly before his death at the age of 72.

Now, whether Nugent Cocks was involved in Regency Press I have no idea. They were listed in the phone book for 1947 at 32 Coptic Street with the phone number MUSEUM 7987, so it may be that the address contained a number of offices of small businesses.

Regency's most prolific author was, I've discovered, a newly married woman from Leicester. Blanche Emily M. Ward was married in 1945 to Richard Young Ward. Born Blanche E. M. Hull on 8 May 1922, she was in her early twenties when she married and, sadly, only 24 when her husband died in 1947, aged 37.

It would appear that Blanche began writing for Regency Press at around the time of her marriage; her output was broad, if we can judge by the titles: The Black Cat Murder, The Hellmouth Horror, Murder at the Playhouse, The School on Lone Island, She Was No Angel!, The Viper's Vengeance, A Double for Trouble, Her Secret Husband and A Night of Love — all in the small 32-page format and often containing more than one story.

With the disappearance of Regency Press in 1946, her next book was a guide to footpaths entitled Around Hereford (1948). She next appears in 1954 writing romances for Phoenix Press: An Indian Summer and Love Unsuspected and with another short romance, An Island Romance, from Barrington Gray in 1957, although this last title may reprint one of the earlier titles.

She then disappears until the appearance of the illustrated children's book The Kitten Nobody Wanted (BPC Publishing, 1968).

Blanche eventually remarried, to Donald A. Darlison in Leicester in 1971. She died in January 2005, aged 82.

I'm certain that this brief outline of her career misses a great deal. Did she, perhaps, adopt a pen-name or names and continue writing her whole working  life? Perhaps her output is simply lurking in some of the dozens of women's magazines, newspapers and romantic pocket libraries that have yet to be indexed.

1 comment:

Rob Solan said...

Hi Steve

i have an original copy of "she was no angel " by B.E.M. ward priced at 1/- . I was wondering if you know how much this was worth before i put it on ebay

many thanks

i can be contacted via email