Elizabeth Jane Howard

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Elizabeth Jane Howard

Born(1923-03-26)26 March 1923
London, England, UK
Died2 January 2014(2014-01-02) (aged 90)
Bungay, Suffolk, England, UK
GenreFiction, non-fiction
(m. 1942; div. 1951)

(m. 1958; div. 1964)

(m. 1965; div. 1983)

Elizabeth Jane Howard, Lady Amis CBE FRSL (26 March 1923 – 2 January 2014), was an English novelist, author of 12 novels including the best-selling series The Cazalet Chronicles.[1]

Early life[edit]

Howard's parents were timber-merchant Major David Liddon Howard MC (1896–1958), son of timber-merchant Alexander Liddon Howard (1863-1946),[citation needed] and Katharine Margaret ('Kit') Somervell (1895–1975), a dancer with Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes and daughter of the composer Sir Arthur Somervell.[2][3] (One of her brothers, Colin, lived with her and her third husband, Kingsley Amis, for 17 years.)[4] Mostly educated at home, she briefly attended Francis Holland School before attending domestic-science college at Ebury Street and secretarial college in central London.[3]


Howard worked briefly as an actress in provincial repertory and occasionally as a model before her writing career, which began in 1947.

The Beautiful Visit (1950), Howard's first novel, was described as "distinctive, self-assured and remarkably sensual", and won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in 1951 for best novel by a writer under 30.[5] She next collaborated with Robert Aickman, writing three of the six short stories in the collection We Are for the Dark (1951).

Her second novel, The Long View (1956), describes a marriage in reverse chronology; Angela Lambert remarked, "Why The Long View isn't recognised as one of the great novels of the 20th century I will never know."[5] Five further novels followed before she embarked on her best known work, the Cazalet Chronicles. As Artemis Cooper describes it: “Jane had two ideas, and could not decide which to embark on; so she invited her stepson Martin [Amis] round for a drink to ask his advice. One idea was an updated version of Sense and Sensibility … the other was a three-volume family saga … Martin said immediately, “Do that one.”[6]

The Chronicles were a family saga "about the ways in which English life changed during the war years, particularly for women." They follow three generations of a middle-class English family and draw heavily on Howard's own life and memories.[7] The first four volumes, The Light Years, Marking Time, Confusion, and Casting Off, were published from 1990 to 1995. The fifth, All Change, was written in just a year and published in 2013; it was her final novel. Millions of copies of the Cazalet Chronicles were sold worldwide.[1]

The Light Years and Marking Time were serialised by Cinema Verity for BBC Television as The Cazalets in 2001. A BBC Radio 4 version in 45 episodes was also broadcast from 2012.[7]

Howard wrote the screenplay for the 1989 movie Getting It Right, directed by Randal Kleiser, based on her 1982 novel of the same name,[8] as well as TV scripts for Upstairs, Downstairs.[1]

She also wrote a book of short stories, Mr. Wrong (1975), and edited two anthologies, including The Lover's Companion (1978).[1]

Autobiography and biographies[edit]

Howard's autobiography, Slipstream, was published in 2002.[9] A biography, entitled Elizabeth Jane Howard: A Dangerous Innocence by Artemis Cooper, was published by John Murray in 2017. A reviewer said it was "strongest in the case it makes for the virtues of Howard's fiction".[10]

Personal life[edit]

Howard married Peter Scott in 1942, at age 19, and they had a daughter, Nicola (born 1943). Howard left Scott in 1946 to become a writer, and they were divorced in 1951. At this time she was employed as part-time secretary to the pioneering canals conservation organisation the Inland Waterways Association, where she met and collaborated with Robert Aickman. She had an affair with Aickman, described in her autobiography Slipstream (2002).

Her second marriage, to Australian broadcaster Jim Douglas-Henry in 1958, was brief.[3] Her third marriage, to novelist Kingsley Amis, whom she met while organising the Cheltenham Literary Festival,[7] lasted from 1965 to 1983; for part of that time, 1968–1976, they lived at Lemmons, a Georgian house in Barnet, where Howard wrote Something in Disguise (1969).[11] Her stepson, Martin Amis, has credited her with encouraging him to become a more serious reader and writer.[12]

In later life, she lived in Bungay, Suffolk, and was appointed CBE in 2000. She died at home on 2 January 2014, aged 90.[1]


  • The Beautiful Visit. Jonathan Cape. 1950. ISBN 978-0-224-60977-7. Winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize
  • We Are for the Dark: Six Ghost Stories. Jonathan Cape. 1951. (a collection containing three stories by Howard and three by Robert Aickman)
  • The Long View. Jonathan Cape. 1956. ISBN 978-0-224-60318-8.
  • The Sea Change. Jonathan Cape. 1959. ISBN 978-0-224-60319-5.
  • After Julius. Jonathan Cape. 1965. ISBN 978-0-224-61037-7.
  • Something in Disguise. Jonathan Cape. 1969. ISBN 978-0-224-61744-4.
  • Odd Girl Out. Jonathan Cape. 1972. ISBN 978-0-224-00661-3.
  • Mr. Wrong. Jonathan Cape. 1975.
  • Getting It Right. Hamish Hamilton. 1982. ISBN 978-0-241-10805-5.
  • The Light Years. Macmillan Publishers. 1990. ISBN 978-0-333-53875-3.
  • Marking Time. Macmillan. 1991. ISBN 978-0-333-56596-4.
  • Confusion. Macmillan. 1993. ISBN 978-0-333-57582-6.
  • Casting Off. Macmillan. 1995. ISBN 978-0-333-60757-2.
  • Falling. Macmillan. 1999. ISBN 978-0-333-73020-1.
  • Slipstream. Macmillan. 2002. ISBN 978-0-333-90349-0.
  • Howard, Elizabeth Jane (2003). Three Miles Up and Other Strange Stories. ISBN 978-1-872621-75-3. (contains the three stories included in We Are for the Dark, plus "Mr Wrong")
  • Love All. Macmillan. 2008. ISBN 978-1-4050-4161-4.
  • All Change. Macmillan. 2013. ISBN 978-0230743076.[13]
  • The Amazing Adventures of Freddie Whitemouse. Pan Macmillan. 2016. ISBN 978-1447293453.
  • Green Shades: An Anthology of Plants, Gardens and Gardeners. Pan Macmillan. 2021. ISBN 978-1529050738.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard dies". BBC. 2 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Elizabeth Jane Howard - obituary". The Telegraph. 2 January 2014. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Beauman, Nicola (3 January 2014). "Elizabeth Jane Howard: Writer". The Independent. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  4. ^ Cockcroft, Lucy (9 October 2007). "Family defends 'racist' Sir Kingsley Amis". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  5. ^ a b Brown, Andrew (9 November 2002). "Profile: Elizabeth Jane Howard". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  6. ^ Cooper, Artemis ‘’Elizabeth Jane Howard: A Dangerous Innocence’’, London: John Murray (2016), p.260.
  7. ^ a b c Wilson, Frances (30 December 2012). "Elizabeth Jane Howard: interview". The Telegraph. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  8. ^ "IMDb profile of Getting It Right (film)". IMDb.
  9. ^ Anthony Thwaite (9 November 2002). "When will Miss Howard take off all her clothes?". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  10. ^ Adams, Matthew (3–4 June 2017). "Talent and torment". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  11. ^ Leader, Zachary. The Life of Kingsley Amis, Jonathan Cape, 2006, p. 633.
  12. ^ Cooper, Jonathan (23 April 1990). "Novelist Martin Amis Carries on a Family Tradition: Scathing Wit and Supreme Self-Confidence". People. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  13. ^ Clark, Alex (14 November 2013). "Review: All Change by Elizabeth Jane Howard". The Guardian.

Further reading[edit]

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