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Pamela Hansford Johnson was born to a middle-class family in London and grew up in Clapham. Her mother was a singer and actress; her father was a British colonial civil servant who spent much of his time working in Nigeria, and died when she was 11 years old. After leaving school at 16, she worked as a secretary in a bank and began writing. She met and became engaged to Dylan Thomas, but after a few years they broke up. In 1934, she published a volume of poetry entitled Symphony for Full Orchestra, and her debut novel This Bed Thy Centre was published in 1935 to critical acclaim. In 1936, she married Gordon Neil Stewart, an Australian journalist, with whom she had two children before divorcing. She married as her second husband the novelist C.P. Snow (later Baron Snow). She wrote some 27 novels during her career, including An Error of Judgement (1962), The Honours Board (1970), and The Good Husband (1978). She became a literary critic and a specialist on Marcel Proust. She also wrote plays, short stories, and essays. Her coverage of the infamous "moors murders" trial result in her book On Iniquity (1967). Her memoir, Important To Me, was published in 1974.
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