Soon after Anne Perry became a commercially-successful author, she was invited to provide biographical information for "Contemporary Authors," the authoritative compilation. No doubt the invitation was immensely satisfying for her. In many ways this must have been, for Ms Perry, the equivalent of her father's admittance into "Who's Who." Her entry is an honest, reasonably frank and even brave one, with understandable omissions, some clever smokescreens, no falsehoods and an interesting interview.
In hindsight, the trail from Juliet Hulme to Anne Perry became an easy one to follow with the publication of this biography--had she omitted just a few details in the 'personal' section (e.g. omission of birth day and city, use of initials for parents, omission of their occupations) she would have made the task much more difficult. The trail was clearly marked, but no-one took it up officially for another fourteen years. Apparently, this trail was an open secret among antipodean literati, which makes Lin Ferguson's tracking down of Anne Perry less of an accomplishment than it has been painted.
Of course, it was impossible for Anne Perry to mention her father, Henry Hulme, or her brother, Jonathon, in her official biographical data and still retain her anonymity. Now that her past has been unmasked to the public, she is free to update her biography as she sees fit. I rather suspect that Ms Perry will take this opportunity to place her father back into her family tree once again.
I don't know enough about her brother to make a guess whether or not she will include him in her biography. He has been completely absent from her dedications, the only immediate family member afforded this treatment. [jp]
From: Locker, Frances C., Ed., "Contemporary Authors," vol 101, pp. 370-371, 1981. Gale Research Co., The Book Tower, Detroit, MI 48226. [and additions to update data. jp]
Born October 28, 1938 in London, England. Daughter of Walter A.B. Perry (an industrial engineer) and H. Marion Perry (a teacher of the mentally handicapped; maiden name, Reavley).
Liberal. [note: This is a Party, not a philosophy. jp]
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon).
Airline stewardess in Northumberland, England, 1962-64; Assistant buyer for department store, Newcastle, England, 1964-66; [resident of California 1967-72] Property Underwriter for Muldoon & Adams in Los Angeles, California; writer 1972 -; volunteer driver for hospital automobile service.
Also contributor of a chapter to a book on the history of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the British Isles, Cambridge U. Press.
[snip outdated addresses]
"My major interest is in conflict of ethics," Anne Perry told CA, "especially involving honesty with one's self, which is why the Victorian scene, with its layers of hypocrisy, appeals to me. My other favorite periods are the Spanish Inquisition and the French Revolution, because of the question of free agency and the use of force to make others believe as we do, in what we believe to be their best interest.
"I am not sure what motivates me; a fascination with people, motives, the belief that the written word is the means by which we can give something of ourselves, hopefully the best of our pleasures and our beliefs, to everyone else who can read, in any country, and in the present or the future. My own joy in reading, and the wealth gained, has been immeasurable. The world never stops growing, becoming more complex and more marvelous to one who can read.
"My working habits? I am compulsive. I usually work at least some part of every day, except Sunday, frequently all day, if I have an idea burning a hole in my head.
"Other writers who have influenced me are a little old fashioned, I'm afraid. I have always loved G.K. Chesterton, his prose and his poetry. "The Man Who Was Thursday" is so far my favorite single book, for its lyricism, humor and message that we all face the same battles, but to overcome when believing yourself alone, simply because you care so much, is the ultimate victory. I also admire Oscar Wilde for wit, style, observation, and in short stories especially, his compassion. Dostoyevsky, too, for his brilliant understanding and, again, compassion, and Josephine Tey for her style."
Anne Perry Comments:
I see mysteries as stories of what happens to people and communities under the pressure of fear and suspicion, especially the violent changes in perceptions and relationships brought about by investigation.
I enjoy the Victorian period because of its dramatic contrast between upstairs and downstairs, manners, morals, the splendour and squalor so close to each other, the value of a reputation. There are so many understandable motives for crime, social ills, injustices, many of which are with us today, albeit in transmuted form. And I think long gowns, fog, hansom cabs etc. are fun! I hope my stories reflect expressions, emotion, social comment--and enjoyment.
"The Writer" 1991, 1993 issues have articles on & interviews with Anne Perry. [mkf,se]