For fifty years Mollie Panter-Downes' name was associated with "The New Yorker", for which she wrote a regular "Letter from London", book reviews and over thirty short stories; of the twenty one in "Good Evening, Mrs Craven", written between 1939 and 1944, only two had ever been reprinted - these very English stories have, until now, been unavailable to English readers. Exploring most aspects of English domestic life during the war, they are about separation, sewing parties, fear, evacuees sent to the country, obsession with food, the social revolutions of wartime. In the "Daily Mail" Angela Huth called "Good Evening, Mrs Craven" 'my especial find' and Ruth Gorb in the "Ham & High" contrasted the humor of some of the stories with the desolation of others: 'The mistress, unlike the wife, has to worry and mourn in secret for her man; a middle-aged spinster finds herself alone again when the camaraderie of the air-raids is over...'
MOLLIE PANTER-DOWNES (1906-97) was brought up by her mother in Sussex after her father, a Major in the Royal Irish Regiment, was killed at Mons in August 1914. She published her first novel, The Shoreless Sea, when she was seventeen - it was a bestseller. She wrote three more popular novels as well as articles and short stories and in 1929 married Clare Robinson, travelled round the world, and moved to the sixteenth-century house near Chiddingfold in Surrey where she and her family lived for over sixty years. Each day Mollie took a basket with her lunch to a writing hut in the woods where, between 1938 and 1984, she wrote 852 pieces for The New Yorker: Letters from London, book reviews, Reporter at Large and short stories, as well as non-fiction books such as Ooty Preserved (1967). In 1947 she published One Fine Day, one of the century's most enduring novels.