Mary Wesley published her first novel when she was 70 - and went on to write 9 more bestsellersbefore her death in 2002 at the age of 89. esley was a pen-name, derived from the family name of Wellesley. She was born Mary Farmar, descended from the Duke of Wellington, and grew up a rebel who believed that she was her mother's least-favourite child. Like many girls of her background, she married for escape; but her first marriage(to Lord Swinfen) was conventional. Her second husband, Eric Siepmann, a writer who never managed to make any money at all, was feckless and bohemian. In between Swinfen and Siepmann, she had a love affair with Czech war-hero, Heinz Ziegler - and possibly with his brother at the same time; and in her later years enjoyed a torrid relationship with Robert Bolt. t the outbreak of the Second World War she was, as she put it, 'roped into intelligence', where she worked on breaking codes. Her experiences in MI 5 and her many wartime love affairs, which form the core of this biography, also formed the cores of her novels. She wrote about the atmosphere of the home front, and how war dislocates families, and how a sense of the imminence of death loosens the inhibi
Mary Wesley herself selected Patrick Marnham as her biographer. She gave him numerous interviews before her death in 2002, and also passed him her diaries and private papers, and authorised her relations and friends to talk openly to him. atrick Marnham lives in Oxfordshire and France. His most recent book, about the French resistance, was described by the Telegraph as 'a brilliant mix of political thriller and wartime history'. He is the biographer of Georges Simenon and Diego Rivera; his books have won the Thomas Cook Travel Prize and the the Marsh Biography Award; and he has written for Private Eye, the Independent and the Spectator. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.