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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Case of Two Hazel Adairs

Hazel Joyce Marriott, formerly Mackenzie, formerly Hamblin, nee Willett

If you look at the Wikipedia entry for Hazel Adair you'll discover that she was born Hazel Iris Wilson in Norwich, Norfolk, on 30 May 1900 [Note: This has since been corrected]. The source for this information is the Science Fiction Encyclopedia and their source was ... me! I included the birth date in a batch of information submitted to the editors way back in May 2008 which then made its way into the master files of the encyclopedia.

Almost five years on and I'm here to say that I got it wrong. There are two Hazel Adairs and they have been conflated. The reason is because they were both writers and it was assumed by no less an authority than the British Library that all the works under the name Hazel Adair was by a single author. The novel Stranger From Space – the reason why Hazel is included in the SFE – is clearly labelled in the British Library Catalogue as the work of Hazel Iris Adair in collaboration with Ronald Marriott.

Not so, as we shall see.

As mentioned above, Hazel Adair was born Hazel Iris Wilson in Norwich, the daughter of Cecil Wilson, an electrical engineer, and his wife Annie M. Wilson. She was the third child, her elder siblings being Lawrence Cecil Wilson (1895- ) and Gerald Howard Wilson (1898- ). Cecil, her father, was a successful employer, with a number of servants recorded in the 1901 and 1911 census returns.

In 1926 she married Eric Elrington Addis, a Scotsman born in Edinburgh on 19 May 1899, the son of David F. Addis, a retired Indian Civil Servant, and his wife Emily. Addis was a naval officer and the young couple lived in Waitemata, Auckland, New Zealand in the late 1920s where Addis was a training officer aboard H.M.S. Philomel. Addis retired from the Navy in 1928 and shortly after returned to England where he studied law, becoming a barrister-at-law at the Admiralty bar. His family by then included two children, Valerie A. Addis (1929- ) and Jeremy Cecil Addis (1931- ), both born in Norfolk; they lived at Charlwood, Oxshott, Surrey, throughout in the 1930s. Hazel and her children were in Milford, Auckland, N.Z., during the war when Eric was killed by enemy action on 31 August 1941. He had rejoined the Navy and served in the Mediterranean and the North Sea. He was at Narvik in the Warspite, being mentioned in dispatches. Addis was also a writer of thrillers under the pen-name Peter Drax.

Hazel and her children returned to  England in 1945 and in 1959 she was living in Stowmarket, Suffolk. Her death was registered in Stowmarket, in October 1990 where she died, aged 90.

US copyright records registration for one of Hazel Adair's novels

Publications by Hazel Iris Addis, nee Wilson 

Novels as Hazel Adair
Wanted A Son. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1935.
Mistress Mary. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1936.
A Torch is Lit. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1936.
All the Trumpets. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1937.
Red Bunting. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1937.
Over the Stile. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1938.
Sparrow Market. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1938.
Bendiz and Son. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1939.
The Heritage. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1939.
Cockadays. London & Melbourne, Hutchinson & Co., 1940.
Mahogany and Deal. London & Melbourne, Hutchinson & Co., 1940.
The Lady of Garth House. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1941.
John Manifold. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1942.
Escape to Peril. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1944.
The Enamelled Bird-Cage. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1945.
Quoth the Raven. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1947.
Mistress of One. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1948.
Challenge to Seven. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1949.
The Gentle Vagabond. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1950
We Only Wanted Peter. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1952.
No Bells Rang. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1953.

Novels as A. J. Heritage
The Happy Years. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1938.

Plays as H. I. Addis
New Plays for Wolf Cubs, with V. V. Vanston. London, C. A. Pearson, 1935.

We now come to our second Hazel Adair. If you want immediate proof that Hazel is unrelated to Hazel Iris Addis, you only need to look below at the following interview by Peter York conducted in July 2010 – twenty years after Hazel Iris Addis died.

Tracking down the origins of Hazel is a little more tricky than one might expect for someone with a Wikipedia entry – which we now know to be wrong – and lengthy credits at IMDB. At one point, Wikipedia noted that she was born in Darjeeling, India, on 9 July 1920, subsequently altered to match the Science Fiction Encyclopedia place and date. (Not by me, but ... oops!)

Hazel Adair began her career as an actress appearing in films My Brother Jonathan (1948), Lady Precious Stream (1950) before turning to script writing for television in the late 1940s. She collaborated with Ronald Marriott on Stranger from Space (1951-53), a TV series about an alien who befriends a boy on Earth, the 1953 novelisation of which is cited in the SFE. 

The Times announced that on 14 August 1952 Hazel Adair and Ronald Marriott had a son, a brother for Colin, which clue pointed to their marriage in 1950. Or, as official records would put it, Norman Ronald Marriott (born 12 August 1922) married Hazel J. Mackenzie or Hamblin or Willett.

This confusion of names is due to Hazel's earlier marriage. The "brother for Colin" leads us to his birth record: Colin G. Mackenzie, born in Hendon, Middlesex, in 1942, mother's maiden name Hamblin. However, a little further digging reveals that she was not Hazel Hamlin but Hazel Joyce Willett, the daughter of Edward Walter Willett (1881-1945) and Ada Charlotte Willett (nee Rhames). Edward was an engineer stationed in Calcutta, India, until his daughter was nine months old.

The parents divorced in 1923 and Ada C. D. Willett married Edward C. C. Hamblin in 1925, probably Edward Charles Clifford Hamblin, 1890-1953. The marriage may not have lasted as there is a record of Edward re-marrying in 1947.

To get back to Hazel, her marriage ended shortly after the war. She began concentrating on writing following the success of her early scripts for the likes of Mrs Dale's Diary and went on the pen At Your Service, Ltd. (1951), Sixpenny Corner (1955-56) and Emergency-Ward 10 in 1957. She penned the movie version of the latter, Life In Emergency Ward 10 (1959) and went on to write Dentist on the Job (1961) for Bob Monkhouse. In 1962 she teamed up with Peter Ling to write Compact (1962-65) and went on to co-create both Crossroads (1964-86) and Champion House (1967-68) with Ling.

In the 1970s, with the British film industry in the doldrums with the exception of horror and sex-comedies, Hazel launched Pyramid Films and worked on various titles, starting with Clinic Xclusive (1971), co-writing the screenplay and co-producing the film with Kent Walton as Elton Hawke. This was followed by Virgin Witch (1971), co-produced with Walton as Ralph Solomons with Hazel writing the script under the pen-name Klaus Vogel. Hazel again adopted the disguise of Ralph Solomons to work as production manager on Fun and Games (1971) whilst Elton Hawke was again used by Hazel and Kent Walton to co-produce Can You Keep It Up For A Week? (1974). Hazel took full credit as producer and scriptwriter for Keep It Up Downstairs (1976), which was novelised by Elton Hawke.

Hazel was producer and 2nd unit director on the thriller Game for Vultures (1979), starring Richard Harris and Joan Collins.

According to Wikipedia, Adair also wrote the novel Blitz on Balaclava Street about an ambulance driver in the Second World War.

Hazel and Ronald Marriott had five children: Charles, Craig, Carol, Janet and Maria. Marriott died in 1972 but Hazel is still alive and well.

Update: Hazel Adair died on 22 November 2015, aged 95.

Obituary: BBC News (24 November 2015); The Guardian (23 November 2015).

Publications by Hazel Joyce Marriott, nee Willett

Novels as Hazel Adair
Stranger from Space, with Ronald Marriott, illus. Antony Hart. London, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1953.
Life in Emergency Ward 10, with Tessa  Diamond. London, Anthony Blond, 1959.

Novels as Clare Nicol
Blitz on Balaclava Street. London, Macdonald, 1983.

Non-fiction as Hazel Adair
The Crossroads Cookbook, with Peter Ling. London, W. H. Allen, 1977.

Compact. Adapted by Janet Grey from the BBC Television series by Hazel Adair and Peter Ling. London, Icon Books, 1962.
Compact 2 adapted by Janet Grey from the BBC Television series by Hazel Adair and Peter Ling. London, Icon Books, 1963.

There remain some nagging queries that need to be answered. For instance, according to Wikipedia, the novelisation of Virgin Witch (Corgi, 1971) was penned by Crossroads producer Beryl Vertue using Hazel Adair's pen-name Klaus Vogel. Is that information correct? And who wrote the novelisation of Clinic Xclusive, published by Corgi in 1972 under the pen-name Elton Hawke. Was this also by Vertue, or perhaps by Hawke collaborators Adair and Walton?

Elton Hawke was also the credited author of the novelisation of Keep It Up Downstairs (Everest, 1976). Was this by Adair or could it have been novelised by her occasional writing partner Walton?

(* The photograph at the top of this column is from the website of Hazel Adair's granddaughter, Cate Mackenzie. Originally post 5 January 2013.)

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