Evadne Price

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Evadne Price Fletcher Attiwill
Evadne Price at work.jpg
Born Eva (later Evadne) Grace Price
28 August, 1888
Merewether, NSW
Died April 17, 1985(1985-04-17)
Sydney, Australia
Pen name Evadne Price,
Helen Zenna Smith
Occupation actress, writer
Language English
Nationality Australian
Period 1908-1985
Genres Children's, Romance
Notable work(s) Not So Quiet: Stepdaughters of War

1: Henry A. Dabelstein

2: C. A. Fletcher
3: Kenneth Attiwill (1929-1985)[1]

Eva (later Evadne) Grace Price (28 August 1888, Merewether, NSW - 17 April 1985 in Sydney, Australia), was an Australian-born writer, actress, astrologer and media personality. She also wrote under the pseudonym Helen Zenna Smith.

She became famous for her many romance novels, most of which were serialised in the national newspapers, as well as her children's books starring the popular character Jane Turpin. She also published an occasional astrology column for SHE magazine, and is now best remembered for her semi-biographical World War I novel Not So Quiet: Stepdaughters of War, a feminist reprise to All Quiet on the Western Front. In Germany she'd been compared to Adrienne Thomas, whose book, Katrin becomes a soldier was published in 1930. She was a vice-president of the Romantic Novelists' Association.


Birth and marriages[edit]

Fiction abounds in the autobiographical details supplied by Evadne Price. There is no genealogical evidence to support her claim that she was born at sea c.1896 or her later claim to have been born in England c. 1901. There is considerable evidence that she was born Eva Grace Price on 28 August 1888 in Merewether, NSW (NSW Registry of BDM cert. no. 1888/032162). Eva's father, Jonathan Dixon Price, was a miner.

In "SHE Stargazes" Evadne gives her birth date as 28 August (p.82).

The article "Newcastle Girl is Film Writer" (Newcastle Morning Herald, 20 June 1939, p.6) reports that Evadne Price/Helen Zenna Smith was born in Merewether and outlines her career to that date.

Early Years

According to the above article Evadne attended the Junction School in Merewether. She was probably also the Eva G. Price who attended the West Maitland Public School for Girls in 1902 and the Largs Public School in 1903. She performed in the end-of-year school concerts at these establishments, giving recitations (as reported in the Maitland Daily Mercury).

In 1908 twenty-year-old Eva Price played the First Twin in Australia's first production of "Peter Pan". The following year, on her 21st birthday, Eva Grace Price, actress, daughter of Jonathan Dixon Price, married a German-born actor Henry A. Dabelstein in Sydney (NSW Registry of BDM cert. no. 1909/007059). Henry may have used a stage name for his acting career.


By 1914 Eva Price was touring the English Provinces playing minor roles (Nottingham Evening Post, 10 Feb. 1914, p.3). In 1916, as her acting career blossomed, she changed "Eva" to the more evocative "Evadne" (Derby Daily Telegraph, 21 March 1916 p.2). In 1920 her place of birth was reported to be on board an ocean liner - more romantic than being the daughter of a coal miner (The Sunday Post, Lanarkshire, 7 March 1920 p.11).

Evadne's acting career ended c. 1920 and she turned to journalism. She wrote a column for the Sunday Chronicle and other newspapers.

Second Marriage

Evadne Grace Price married Charles A. Fletcher in London in 1920. There was no mention of her previous marriage on the GRO entry form. Charles Fletcher, Captain in the 3rd Devonshire Regiment, died in the Sudan in 1924.

Third Marriage

In 1939 Evadne Fletcher married Kenneth Attiwill in Kent, England.

Journalism and the war[edit]

Many of Price's stories are set in a backdrop of the World Wars. Price's semi-biographical sketch of a group of ambulance drivers in World War I - Not So Quiet: Stepdaughters of War (1930), received critical acclaim, and was published under her pseudonym, Helen Zenna Smith. A British publisher initially approached Price to write a spoof on Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front. Price managed to persuade him to publish an account of a woman's experience of the war instead. She contacted Winnifred Young, a British ambulance driver who had kept war diaries to provide her with a basis for her story. It was translated into French as "Pas Si Calme" by Gallimard, Paris in 1931. It was translated into Spanish as "Hay novedad en el frente...: (Hijastras de Guerra)", in 1935. Also translated into Dutch; a trilogy "Gij vrouwen....!", "Vrouwen in nood" and "Vrouwenroeping".

During World War II, Price was the war correspondent for The People from 1943, covering the Allied invasion and all of the major war stories through the Nuremberg Trials. Her husband was a POW in Japan, and was presumed dead for two years.

Jane Turpin stories[edit]

Evadne Price is also remembered for her children's stories, which she often published in magazines. Her most well known creation in this field was Jane Turpin, often referred to as the "Female William" and serialized in the Novel magazine from 1928. Price, however, did not take kindly to Jane stories being referred to as a copy of the William series. She went on record saying she "had never heard of William", even though William stories were regularly advertised on Jane book dust jackets. The famous illustrator Thomas Henry Fisher, who illustrated both Jane and William books, even signed the illustrations for the Jane books as "Marriott" so as to distinguish the two series.

Romance novel author[edit]

Evadne Price was a very successful romance novelist and also wrote some romance novels under the pseudonym Helen Zenna Smith. Some of her books were serialized in the weekly British weekly The People. Several hundred of her novels were serialized in the Novel magazine. Among her more popular books were Society Girl, Glamour Girl, Escape to Marriage, and Air Hostess in Love. She was a vice-president of the Romantic Novelists' Association.[2]

Playwright and screenwriter[edit]

Price's career as a romance novelist took her into playwriting, radio scriptwriting and screenwriting. Her play Big Ben, written for the Malvern Festival in 1939, was a successful one (The Times called it "a large, comfortable play with a soul to call its own"). The Phantom Light (1937) was a stage version of her novel, The Haunted Light. The play was also made into a film starring Gordon Harker. Once a Crook (1939) - a play which was co-written by Price and her husband Kenneth Attiwill, was also both a play and a film. She also acted in the movie Trouble with Junia (1967) in the minor part of Miss Hallyday beside her husband Ken Attiwill.


Evadne Price had a parallel career as a broadcaster during the early years of British television. Her afternoon horoscope show called “Fun with the Stars” led to a long-running evening program. Price was dubbed the “new astrologer extraordinaire” for twenty-five years for the SHE magazine and published a successful collection of these columns as SHE Stargazes. When she and her husband retired to Australia in 1976, Evadne Price wrote the monthly horoscope column for Australian Vogue. She also appeared weekly on the ITV Central evening news magazine show with a 5 minute astrological reading and she would always close with the catchphrase "think lucky and you'll be lucky".

Final Years[edit]

Evadne Price died on 17 April 1985 in Sydney, Australia. Evadne Price has an unfinished autobiography which was to have been named Mother Painted Nude.


As Evadne Price[edit]

Jane Series[edit]

NB: All "Jane" books were published by Robert Hale, London unless otherwise mentioned
  1. Just Jane, John Hamilton, London (1928)
  2. Meet Jane, Newnes, London (1930)
  3. Enter - Jane, Newnes, London (1932)
  4. Jane the Fourth (1937)
  5. Jane the Sleuth (1939)
  6. Jane the Unlucky (1939)
  7. Jane the Popular (1939)
  8. Jane the Patient (1940)
  9. Jane Gets Busy (1940)
  10. Jane at War (1947)

Single novels[edit]

  • The Wrong Mrs. Sylvester (1930s)
  • One Woman's Freedom, Longmans, Green London (1932)
  • Diary of a Red-haired Girl (1932)
  • The Haunted Light (1933)
  • Strip Girl! (1934)
  • Society Girl! (1935)
  • Red for Danger, John Long, London (1936)
  • Glamour Girl (1937)
  • Escape to Marriage (1951)
  • The Dishonoured Wife (1951)
  • My Pretty Sister, Herbert Jenkins Ltd (1952)
  • Her Stolen Life, Merit Books, London (1954)
  • The Love Trap (1958)
  • My Platonic Wife (1950s)
  • Air Hostess in Love (1962)
  • 'She' Stargazes, National Magazine Company, London (1965)

As Helen Zenna Smith[edit]

Stepdaughters of War Series[edit]

  1. Not So Quiet...: Stepdaughters of War, Albert E. Marriot, London (1930)
  2. Women of the Aftermath (1931)

Single novels[edit]

  • Shadow Women (1932)
  • Luxury Ladies (1933)
  • The Haunted Light (1933)
  • They Lived With Me (1934)

Known Discography[edit]

  • The Christmas Story, Narration by Evadne Price, LP, Label: Ember

Broadway Credits[edit]

  • Stepdaughters of War, based on the novel by Helen Zenna Smith, Empire Theatre (started 6 October 1930 for 24 performances)


References and sources[edit]

  • Afterword by Jane Marcus, Not So Quiet...Stepdaughters of War, Evadne Price, The Feminist Press, 1989.
  • Adrienne Thomas: DIE KATRIN WIRD SOLDAT und Anderes aus Lothringen, Röhrig Universitätsverlag, St. Ingbert 2008, 510 S., 37 Abb., ISBN 978-3-86110-455-1

External links[edit]