Monday, September 03, 2007

Kathleen Clarice Cornwell...Klein...Dealtry...Groom

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
Kit 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".


  1. I was adding this book to and having a heck of a time finding any information.

    Great research!

    I've linked this post to the book link on If you would like me to remove it, please email me.


  2. This person (by whatever name) was my great grandmother. There's lots of information about her here that I didn't know before, THANK YOU. Most of what you've written fits what I know. A couple more details. The step-daughter's name (Herman's daughter from previous marriage) was Sibyl, not Sylvia. The famous novelist daughter, Denise Robins, went by the name of Denise Dealtry, not Denise Klein, before she was married. She wrote a successful autobiography, Stranger than Fiction , which has more information about Clarice, as we knew her to be called.

    What i want to ask is: what inspired you to find all this out, and how on earth did you do it?!

    Thanks again!

  3. Roz,

    Glad you enjoyed the post. What inspired it? I believe Al Hubin (compiler of Crime Fiction Bibliography) asked about the identity of Mrs. Sydney Groom who was credited with writing a crime novel. He circulated a query to a small bunch of researchers who enjoy chasing down this kind of thing and, between us, we managed to resolve the name. As it was quite an interesting story, I thought I'd use it as the basis of a column.

    How the information was uncovered? Mostly through hard graft using various genealogy websites, phone books, library indexes, a number of reference books owned by one or other of us...

    So it was a team effort. And I strongly suspect that one or other of the team has by now tracked down a copy of Stranger than Fiction and gone through it with a fine toothcomb for information.

  4. I have passed this blog-address to my aunt, who is the main point-of-reference for the work of her mother, Denise Robins (Clarice's daughter). She is very interested in the research you've done. She has copies of a lot of her great-grandmother's books, including at least one book by 'Clarice Groom' which hasn't been mentioned so far.
    She is also a well-known author in her own right, and has at least two Crime Fiction titles to her name, and another in progress. We'll let you have details soon.

  5. I am posting this on behalf of my aunt, whose writing name is Claire Lorrimer:

    My niece Roz sent me a copy of your blog Kathleen Clarice Cornwell...Klein...Dealtry...Groom yesterday - I am one of her five grandchildren, one of Denise's three daughters. I do have in my possession among my grandmother's books one you did not mention called 'The Paving of Hell' with an inscription inside "stories by Clarice Groom written when she was a young girl". A small volume, hardback, printed by Cowen & Co, Perth.

    My mother, Denise Robins, handed on the literary flag to me (see my website and three of these published titles are whodunnits - 'Over My Dead Body' , 'Dead Centre' and 'Infatuation', and I am currently on a fourth!

    Last year I published my autobiography 'You Never Know' in which, of course, I mention my family background.

    Denise Robins did not write crime fiction, but on two occasions she wrote novel versions of two West End plays - 'Murder in Mayfair' which was the story of the play in which Ivor Novello starred in 1935 and 'The Triumph of the Rat' another Ivor Novello play.

    Might this be of any interest?


  6. Does anyone know if her brother Daryl Klein was a) the author of "With the Chinks" (1919)--an account of his work as an officer in the Chinese Labor Corps, b) the author of poetry books in the 1940s-1950s (including "The Flowring Tree"), c) the husband of composer/poet Ivy Frances Klein, d) a businessman in the import/export business in the 1920s with offices in London and Kobe, or e) any combination of the above?

    The Daryl Klein in (d) was briefly engaged to my wife's grandmother in 1922.

    Ted Kaye

  7. Claire Lorrimer has just confirmed to me that all of the above (a through d) are indeed the same person, her uncle Daryl, son of Kathleen CCKDG.

    His June 1922 Paris engagement to Jean Meier (of the Portland, Oregon, Meier & Frank department store family) was apparently quashed by the bride-to-be's grandmother.


    Ted Kaye

  8. I hope neither Steve nor Roz will object to this very late, and tangential, post:

    I'm trying to locate the agent or estate of Adrian Bernard Klein. I would like to reproduce in an academic journal an illustration from his book "Colour-music," and I would like to apply for permission from who ever controls the copyright to that book. Might anyone know the proper party to contact?

    I saw that Steve mentioned the date of his death. Did you find an obit which includes his surviving heirs?

    Any info would be greatly appreciated!


    Jeremy Kargon, Architect

  9. Hi Jeremy,

    Adrian Klein was married in 1916 to Angela Edith Brackenbury (1888-1983), and appear to have had at least two children: Christopher C. Klein (1917- ) and Sylvia R. Klein (1919- ). I would imagine that would be the starting point for tracing the current copyright holders of his works.

    Christopher Charles Klein (or Brackenbury, as he was then known) married Rosemary P. Struben in 1940. He died on 15 May 1941, aged only 24. Rosemary Brackenbury subequently moved to South Africa and re-married.

    Silvia (sic) Cornwell Clyne (also sic after a family change of name) was married in 1945 to Gawain Westray Bell (1909-1995) I think, but I'm not 100% sure, that Silvia Bell died in Winchester in 1996. I believe they had a daughter, Peta J. Westray Bell (1946- ) who married one Anthony J. B. Egremont-Lee in 1966. At least two children: Claudia Jane Egremont-Lee (1969- ) and James Antony G. B. Egremont-Lee (1971- ).

    Of course, the copyrights could have been passed onto anyone at some point, but if you can track down his two great-grandchildren, that would be the best starting point.

  10. Hi Jeremy
    I am related to this family. I'll try to get you the email address of one of his granddaughters so you can trace this copyright. I am optimistic that my brother can get this soonish, and either forward it to you, or put her in touch with you directly.

    Best wishes from Roz

  11. Hello Roz/Steve/Jeremy,

    I'm interested in Adrian Klein and in particular interested in finding out if he is the same Adrian Klein who on occasion worked with the famous golf course architect Dr Alistair McKenzie.

    I believe MacKenzie met Klein during the first world war or shortly thereafter. MacKenzie was involved in camouflage and Klein may have been involved in aerial photography.

    If its the same Adrain Klein he would hve worked with MacKenzie in producing plan of the Old Course at St Andrews in early 1920's and leter on visited Argentina with MacKenzie to do some work over there.

    Any information would be much appreciated.


  12. Excuse me for poking my nose in, folks...

    Steve (on this page) mentions Anthony Egremont-Lee here... I would like to get in contact with him on a matter of genealogy (family tree).

    I have tried to communicate with a relative of his, Dr. Steve Edwards, but the email I had for him in 1999 no longer exists.

    I understand Steve's wife Ginny's family is the same as Anthony Egremont-Lee's and I have new information for both which may be of interest. the name John Cox Lynch and location Barbados would mean something to them.

    Thank you for your time and response...

    Jim Lynch
    in Toronto, Canada
    (SPAM-free contact) here for direct response:

  13. Hi Jim,

    I'm afraid I have no contact details; I simply know the name from his marriage, mentioned in one of the other comments.

    However, a quick Google search turns up a possible address and phone number here.



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