Ursula was born in Essex, but as a child lived in Whitchurch, Warwickshire, where her father, James Harvey Bloom, was the Rector of the village. She went on to write books about his work into their family history.
Ursula published over 500 books in her lifetime, an achievement that once won her recognition in the Guinness Book of Records. She wrote many of her novels under pseudonyms - Sheila Burns, Mary Essex, Rachel Harvey, Deborah Mann, Lozania Prole and Sara Sloane.
Her work was predominantly romantic, although her first book, Tiger, privately printed, was written when she was seven years old. She was encouraged to write by a family friend, a well-known author of the time - Marie Corelli. She remembers her in the short reminiscence Christmas was such fun:-
"I remember that Marie Corelli always had to be star turn and she would often play the harp to us. She invited the choir in to sing to us during Christmas evening, and on the previous afternoon all of us tied up five-bob bits into paper bags, to give to each of the choirboys"
Romantic by nature, Ursula was born to "romantically ambitious parents who were anxious for me to make what is known as 'a good match'. My marriage was discussed (and in my presence) from my earliest days in that Warwickshire rectory." Her younger life as a woman revolved around dating and getting engaged. But she also wanted to write: "My flimsy attempts to become a writer had gone phut." However, her ambition was achieved by 1924 with the publication of The great beginning. From there on she wrote prolifically, generally writing several books, plays, and short stories per year. She stated that "I have ink in my veins, I am sure."
She also worked as a reporter for some time on the newspapers Empire News and Sunday Dispatch, covering the infamous cases of Crippen and Ruth Ellis and used her coverage in some of her novels. But her main style of writing was to use her own life experiences as a backdrop for telling stories - a style that gave clarity and honesty to her characters.
Born into the fringes of middle class, with aspirations of grandeur but little money, Ursula became a master of story-telling in her own life - keeping up appearances with an imaginary housemaid because "it would have been a social stigma to do our own work" and pretending to her first husband that she could control the servants and not they her - writing was both an outlet and easy with someone of her imagination and humour.
She married twice - in 1916 to Arthur Brownlow Denham-Cookes, to whom she had one son, Pip, born in 1917, and in 1925 to Charles Gower Robinson.
The great beginning (1924)
The passionate adventurer (1936) [ writing as Sheila Burns ]
Haircut for Samson (1940) [ writing as Mary Essex ]
Our Dearest Emma (1949) [ writing as Lozania Prole ]
The woman called Mary (1960) [ writing as Deborah Mann ]
The village nurse (1967) [ writing as Rachel Harvey ]
Parson extraordinary (1963) [ a biography of her father ]
The rose of Norfolk (1964) [ about her father’s ancestry ]
Price above rubies (1965) [ about her mother ]
Ursula Bloom wrote the following accounts of her own life:-
Mistress of none (1933)
No lady meets no gentleman (1947)
Page created 15 February 2002 and last
updated 5 October 2009
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