Writers

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Janet Hitchman

1916-1980

Janet Hitchman (1916 – 1980) was a British writer. Elsie May Fields was born to a seamstress, Margaret Ames. There is some evidence that Elsie was given up after her birth because her mother was a widow with 2 children and didn’t want to acknowledge (or her family didn’t want to) that Margaret had an affair with another man. Elsie was first sent to live with a Mrs and Mr Sparkes just out of Norfolk, in England. When it was decided the Sparkes home wasn’t adequate, she went into foster care with another woman, a widow. From there, at age nine, Elsie was mistakenly transferred to a private facility for the care of the mentally unwell, from which she went to another foster home, and then to the Thomas Anguish School of Housecraft (now a Steiner School) before being transferred to a Barnardo’s home, where she changed her name to Janet. Janet married Michael Hitchman and had a child, but was later divorced after which she worked as a domestic servant to support herself. She published her memoir, The King of the Barbareens in 1960 and subsequently wrote for The Observer and other newspapers. She also wrote plays that were produced by the BBC. Such a Strange Lady (1976), Hitchman’s biography of Dorothy L. Sayers, is Janet Hitchman’s most well-known and often cited work.