(1884 - 1969)
 "I'm still, in part of me, what I shall always be - a Chalet School girl."

Born Gladys Eleanor May Dyer in 1894, Elinor appeared to be dissatisfied with her name, experimenting with a variety of aliases until the early 1920s when she adopted the name Elinor Mary Brent-Dyer, after her father Charles Morris Brent Dyer. She was educated privately in South Shields, trained as a teacher in 1917 and taught at her old school until 1923. In conjunction with her teaching she also started writing school stories and her first book, Gerry Goes to School, (the first in what was to become the La Rochelle series) was published in 1922.  It was during this time that she went on holiday to the Austrian Tyrol, at Pertisau am Achensee, the beautiful landscape of which obviously made a lasting impression as it became the setting for her much loved Chalet School series.  The first of these, The School at the Chalet was published in 1925 and she went on to write a further 58 titles in the series over the next 44 years, the last, Prefects of the Chalet, being published posthumously in 1970.

Her teaching career spanned 36 years, during which time she taught in a wide variety of state and private schools, and it is likely that she drew heavily on her teaching experience as well as her own experience of school life when she started writing stories for girls. In an interesting expression of life imitating art, when she started her own school, called The Margaret Roper, which ran from 1938 until 1948, she based many of its practices on her own fictional Chalet School, following similar customs and uniforms and imbuing it with a strong religious tradition.  Her continued employment as a teacher suggests that although her books were extremely popular, they still did not generate enough income for her to be able to support herself and her mother.

Her final years were spent at Redhill in Surrey where she died on 20 September 1969, and in 1994, the centenary of her birth, her faithful fans paid for a headstone for her grave.  Her lasting appeal is probably summed up by Val McDermid who said that "the books focused on women being able to do everything" – an appropriate tribute to an author who wrote not only the longest but also the longest-surviving series of girls’ school stories which have never been out of print.


Please scroll down to see our current collection of E.M. Brent-Dyer first editions.


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