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Phyllis Bottome (1884–1963)

Author of The Mortal Storm

Includes the names: Phyllis Bottme, Bottome Phyllis

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Phyllis Bottome was the pen name of Phyllis Forbes Dennis, born in Rochester, Kent. Her parents were the Rev. William MacDonald Bottome, an American-born clergyman, and his English wife, Mary Leatham Bottome. According to her memoirs, she had an unstable childhood and a patchy education. She began writing novels as a teenager, and also contracted tuberculosis, which caused her health problems for the rest of her life. In 1917, she married Ernan Forbes Dennis, a British diplomat working undercover for the British Secret Service as a passport control officer. During World War I, she was active in relief efforts for refugees and assisted John Buchan at the Department of Information. While in Vienna, where her husband was stationed, she studied Alfred Adler's theory of Individual Psychology with Adler himself. In the 1920s, she went to the Austrian mountain village of Kitzbühel for her health and with her husband started an experimental school for difficult British schoolboys. One of their more famous students was Ian Fleming. In the 1930s, the couple were posted to Nazi Germany, the inspiration for her prescient and best-known novel, The Mortal Storm (1937). It was adapted into the first openly anti-Nazi Hollywood film in 1940 and helped to blunt the isolationist stance in the USA. Three more of her works – Private Worlds (1934), Danger Signal (1939), and The Heart of a Child (1942), were also adapted into films. Over her 60-year writing career, she published 34 novels, several of them bestsellers, plus short stories, essays, biographies and memoirs. She also lectured widely in Britain and the USA. She was a friend of many other writers and artists, including Dorothy Thompson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Max Beerbohm, Ezra Pound, Daphne du Maurier, Violet Bonham Carter, Ben Nicholson, Barbara Hepworth, Storm Jameson, Pamela Hansford Johnson, and Ivor Novello.
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