So very sorry that wonderful Diane Pearson, seen here on the left, with the equally legendary Patricia Robins, has died.
Best Selling Novelist
Yes, she was a genuine, gold-plated, international best selling novelist. Her greatest work, Csardas, was called the European Gone With the Wind.
It was reprinted a couple of years ago. And, in spite of her increasingly debilitating illness, Diane saw no reason not to give one of her justly famous parties to celebrate.
It was a lovely summer evening, she was on gossipy top form and the new edition had a spectacularly beautiful cover. One of many delicious memories I have of Diane.
And Editor …
Diane, who had done most jobs in publishing before becoming Senior Editor at Transworld, worked with some Seriously Big Names, including Barbara Cartland, Joanna Trollope, Kate Atkinson and Terry Pratchett among many, many others. In 1994 she was the British Book Awards Editor of the Year.
And President of the Romantic Novelists’ Association
It was to the huge advantage of the UK’s Romantic Novelist Association, therefore, that she became their 3rd President in 50 years. In that role she wore both hats, representing writers and also the industry, from whose ranks the RNA has many distinguished Associate Members.
Diane was the longest running president, clocking up 24 years. She only retired in 2011 when she began to feel unwell.
I had the very great pleasure of working with her on the RNA’s 50th Anniversary Celebratory Memoir. Fabulous at Fifty. I would trawl through the archives and come up with suggestions. She would consult old friends and colleagues for contributions. Then we would have a salad, open a bottle and she would reminisce, while I took notes, enchanted.
It was an education, though probably less than half of the stories made it into the book. For in some cases she knew where the bodies were buried. She was immensely kind, however, never harsh or censorious. She might murmur, “Probably not tactful to say that,” when, in my ignorance, I came too close to pressing on an old wound or lifting the veil on a rumoured scandal. And she was very funny.
She was a wonderful writer. Her Csardas was one of the most exciting epics ever, a worldwide bestseller, and one of my keeper novels from the first time I read it, long before I knew her.
And the beautiful short story she contributed to the RNA’s 50th Anniversary Collection recalls both her own travels in Hungary during the worst of the Cold War and also what a master she was of the space between the words..
A Fabulous Friend
She was a true friend to generations of aspiring and published authors, ready to advise if asked and to support whether her advice was taken or not. She was wise, witty and – with 60 plus years of experience of what British publishing has to offer in all its weirdness – immensely tolerant.
She always fed me champagne. Indeed, she collected antique champagne coupes, the ones that are supposed to be modelled on Marie Antoinette’s breast. And I never left the bar or her house in Clapham after a session without having had a great time, a good laugh and in receipt of perfectly-judged and generous encouragement as well.
It is a huge sorrow that she will now never see my current work in progress, a novel that I thought was too big and grown up for me and Diane disagreed. Quite forcefully. Still makes me laugh.
A woman who put heart into you. What a loss.