Ethel Snelson Summers, well-know as Essie, was born on Bordesley Street in Christchurch, New Zealand on July 24, 1912. Her parents, Ethel Snelson (for whom she was named) and Edwin Summers, had immigrated to New Zealand from England exactly one year earlier. She had an older brother, Edwin and a younger brother, William. She grew up in a warm and happy home where reading and story-telling were highly valued, and from a very early age little Essie was making up her own stories. When a teacher read aloud "Emily of New Moon" by L M Montgomery, she knew then that she wanted to be a writer. When she was young she had red hair, like many of her heroines, and she has said that she had a very quick temper, which she later learned to control. Essie left school early for financial reasons and began work at Londontown Drapers and she did similar work for the next 13 years, until her marriage. Essie married William Flett, a minister, after a courtship conducted mainly by letters, and they settled into parish life together. They lived in various parts of the North and South Islands of New Zealand though they eventually settled in Hawke's Bay in the North Island. They had two children, William Temple and Elizabeth Lucia, and seven grandchildren. As a minister's wife and a mother, her life was very full, but she was still a prolific writer of short stories, poems and, for a time, a newspaper column. Finally, her husband told her that if she was to achieve her goal of having a novel published by the time she was forty-five, the time to start was now. With his help she was able to concentrate on her writing and had her first novel published the day after her forty-fifth birthday! She went on to become one of the world's most beloved romance writers and a strong supporter of other aspiring writers. When she had achieved some financial security with her writing, she and her husband fulfilled a life-long dream and travelled to Great Britain and parts of Europe, where she was able to visit many of the places where her ancesters had lived. She writes very movingly in her autobiography about seeing the places where her parents had come from and meeting her English relatives. Essie went on to use many of those settings in her novels. In all she wrote fifty-six novels and an autobiography, plus her family history, before her death in Napier at the age of eighty-six on August 27, 1998. She was predeceased by her husband in 1984. Many of her fans have travelled to New Zealand to see for themselves the country that she described so vividly in her books. Because of this Essie Summers was offered The Order Of The British Empire for her contributions to tourism.