Dorita Fairlie Bruce.
I first remember seeing the name 'Dorita Fairlie Bruce' on a Dimsie title in my local library. At the time that I was devouring everything from Enid Blyton's Famous Five, Alfred Hitchcock's The Three Investigators to Elinor M. Brent-Dyer's Chalet School books. Now seeing the Dimsie titles on a fairly regular basis, I realized that I did not know anything about the author of the Dimsie books, so here is a little of the information that I discovered:
Dorita Fairlie Bruce (or her full name Dorothy Morris Fairlie Bruce), was born in Spain on May 20th 1885, where her father was working as a civil engineer. However, much of her early childhood was spent in Scotland. As with many writers, Dorita showed promise from an early age - even winning a poetry competition when she was six years old.
In around 1895 the family moved to Ealing in London. Due to her parents spending much time abroad, Dorita was sent to boarding school at Clarence House in Roehampton, but she spent many holidays with family members in Ayrshire, Scotland, or with her aunt in Ealing.
The experiences and lifestyle that Dorita became accustomed to at Clarence House is obviously what would inspire many of her different series of school stories for girls. The Dimsie series starts with Dimsie, aged 10, on her first day at boarding school, and follows her throughout her schooldays into adult life. This is a change from some of the same genre of books which focus just on the girls' school life.
Dorita's first novel (following some poems and short stories), was 'The Senior Prefect', published in 1921 which was later republished as 'Dimsie Goes to School'. In total there were nine titles in the Dimsie series. Another series is the 'Nancy' books, sometimes referred to as 'St. Bride's' or 'Maudsley' books. There are again nine titles in this series, eight of them featuring Nancy, a character we first meet in the Dimsie books. Many of the author's series of books are interconnected this way, through characters appearing in different titles across different series.
Throughout the Second World War, Dorita cared for her parents in Ealing. During her time in Ealing, Dorita also dedicated time to one of her interests, the Girl's Guildry, and was Guardian of an Ealing Company. However, in 1949 she made a permanent move to Scotland - an area that is reflected in many of her writings and where she appeared to move away from writing so much for younger girls with tales of boarding school life. Instead her novels concentrated more on older characters in their late teens and early twenties. Throughout her life, as well as writing stories for girls, she also wrote historical and other novels.
Dorita Fairlie Bruce died, in Scotland, in 1970.
Thinking back to the few Dimsie books that I read, in the late 1980's and early 1990's - it is amazing to think that they were originally published around 60 years previously and were about a time that I really knew little about. However, the likeable, but realistic characters in these books still made them appealing and enjoyable to me. This is I think a testament to the author who wrote about what she knew well.
If you have never read a Dorita Fairlie Bruce title, please check our stock here and I hope you enjoy them, as I did.
Contributed by Joanne Hill.
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