Valerie loses her Parkinson's battle

PUBLISHED: 17:09 17 August 2007 | UPDATED: 12:43 04 May 2010

Valerie Grosvenor Myer

Valerie Grosvenor Myer

HADDENHAM novelist, Valerie Grosvenor Myer has lost her battle against Parkinson s Disease at the age of 72. Valerie, well-known for her literary contributions, sense of humour and her flamboyant hats, had also been a critic, poet, biographer, playwright,

HADDENHAM novelist, Valerie Grosvenor Myer has lost her battle against Parkinson's Disease at the age of 72.

Valerie, well-known for her literary contributions, sense of humour and her flamboyant hats, had also been a critic, poet, biographer, playwright, editor and teacher during an impressive career spanning more than 50 years.

Her success came despite family objections to higher education which led to her being taken out of school at 16 to train as a librarian.

But her love and talent for writing prompted her to contribute freelance articles to her local paper near the family home in Kent and she was eventually recruited as a reporter.

In 1959 she married writer and critic, Michael Grosvenor Myer, and after spending time working for women's magazines decided to return to her studies.

With his encouragement, at the age of 28, she won a place at Newnham College, Cambridge where she gained a first class honours degree in English.

After a short spell teaching, Valerie, who lived at West End, returned to journalism becoming deputy features editor on the Times Educational Supplement.

A number of books followed before she returned to teaching to take a post in China.

It was during this time in 1989 that she witnessed the horrific massacre of students in Tiananmen Square.

It led to her sheltering a group of her students from the avenging Chinese authorities and was the inspiration for her novel The Butterfly House.

Her story was told on the front page of the Ely Standard at the time and prayers were said for her in Haddenham's village church.

Valerie lived in the village for 30 years and was instrumental in fighting to get a four year reprieve for the village's library when it was first threatened with closure.

She had been a member of the Haddenham Arts Society and wrote and directed the play Nitty Gritty in which her husband had a starring role.

Michael said: "She was quite a distinguished woman. Valerie's flamboyant hats were a noticeable feature and they are referred to in many of the letters I have received from all over the world including from her sister in Chicago, friends in Los Angeles and Beiijing and a co-editor of Valerie's in New York."

Despite the debilitating effects of her illness, Valerie continued to write, taking on major projects including being co-editor of the Encyclopedia of British Literature.

"Valerie hated funerals so I am planning a party to say goodbye to her in the village in September," added Michael.

EXValerie: CAPTION - Valerie Grosvenor Myer who will be remembered for her contributions to literature and her flamboyant hats. Photo supplied.

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