CLEMENCE DANE CBE (nee Winifred Ashton) was an accomplished novelist, playwright, Hollywood screenwriter, journalist, broadcaster, artist and pioneering feminist.
Between World Wars I and II she was arguably Britain’s most successful all-round writer, with a unique place in literary, stage and cinematic history. Her bibliography includes 12 novels, 30 plays, 4 detective stories and the memoir London Has a Garden.
Regiment of Women, Dane’s first, most famous and influential novel, is based on her real experiences as a teacher in a girls’ school. It directly inspired Radclyffe Hall to write The Well of Loneliness (published in July 1928 and banned in Britain). Legend (1919) is a sharply modern ‘drawing-room’ novel about the way we perceive each other. In 1946, Dane won an Oscar for her screenplay Vacation from Marriage.
Colourful, eccentric, clever and kind, she was used by Noel Coward, the brightest star in her extraordinary circle of friends, as the inspiration for Madame Arcati in his play Blithe Spirit.