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Saturday 19 December 2020

Forgotten Authors - Evelyn Anthony


Evelyn Bridget Patricia Stephens Ward-Thomas, born in 1928, was educated largely at home. During the Second World War she was evacuated to the West Country, whilst her father, Henry Christian Stephens, re-entered the Royal Navy to develop his Dome Trainer, one of the first inventions to cover anti-aircraft gunnery training.

She started writing in 1949, following her marriage. Her pen name comes from Evelyn as a man's profile, as women were often not published during the years after the Second World War, and St Anthony, the Catholic patron of lost things.

First writing short stories for periodicals, she gained fame and success, with her well-known historical novels being especially noted for her original treatment of Anne Boleyn - a historical character dealt with by numerous other writers. Two of them became Literary Guild Choices.

Her historical novels Far Flies The Eagle and Valentina were both set during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. Later, she switched to writing contemporary thrillers and spy novels featuring strong female leads such as Davina Graham (Head of British spy services) with well-developed characterisation of protagonists and twist endings, which her readers came to expect.

Her 1971 book The Tamarind Seed was adapted for film in 1974, starring Julie Andrews as Judith Farrow, a British Home Office functionary, Omar Sharif as Feodor, a Soviet air attach√©- lovers involved in cold war intrigue.  She adapted well to the end of the Cold War and continued writing thrillers set in the post-1990 reality.

Her books were translated into no fewer than nineteen languages and frequently compared to the writings of Ted Allbury, Colin Forbes and Claire Frances..

In 1994, Evelyn Ward-Thomas, was appointed the first female High Sheriff of Essex. She was married to Michael Ward-Thomas, former director of a mining company, who died in 2004. They had six children - four sons and two daughters. A daughter, Kitty, died in 1995. There are fourteen grandchildren spread around the globe, the latest in Australia in early 2008. She lives in a sixteenth-century manor in Essex. Earlier, they lived in Kildare in Ireland. Her hobbies are reported to be her dogs, socialising, gardening and listening to classical music 

1967    The Rendezvous/No Resistance
1969    The Legacy           
1969    The Legend
1970    The Aassassin           
1970    The Pollenburg Inheritance/A Dubious Legacy
1971    The Tamarind Seed
1973    The Occupying Power/Stranger at the Gates/Sleeping with the Enemy
1974    The Malaspiga Exit/Mission to Malaspiga       
1975    The Persian Ransom/The Persion Price
1977    The Silver Falcon       
1978    The Return           
1979    The Grave of Truth/ The Janus Imperitive/Codeword Janus
1985    Voices in the Wind       
1987    No Enemy But Time/A Place to Hide   
1988    The House of Vandekar
1989    The Scarlet Thread       
1991    The Relic           
1992    The Doll’s House
1993    Exposure           
1994     Bloodstones           

Her series featuring Davina Graham:
1980    The Defector/Betrayal 
1981 The Avenue of the Dead/The Plumed Serpent
1982    Albatross
1983    The Company of Saints/Mind Games


  1. She was one of my favourite authors. Loved her books

  2. I’m always surprised how overlooked she remains as an author of thrillers. The Tamarind Seed and No Enemy But Time are both books which stay long in the memory after reading; her sense of place and strong characterisation draw parallels with John Gardener or Gerald Seymour. Recommended secondhand purchases!