Jane Hervey was born Naomi Blanche Thoburn McGaw in 1920. She grew up on a country estate in Sussex and was educated by her nanny at home and at a local girls’ school. She was ‘finished’ in Paris and was presented at court. After the outbreak of war she nursed for a while, then helped to write aircraft recognition books. In 1941 she was married, but then, after her husband was posted overseas, lived with Franklin Stuart Wilder; they married in 1948 and had a daughter in 1949. Vain Shadow was written in the early 1950s but remained unpublished until 1963; even then some members of her family were offended by the obvious portrayal of themselves and did not speak to her for several years. By this time she was happily married to Major George Bowlby and in 1956 and 1959 two children were born; the family lived in Derbyshire, and in Cookham Dene, before moving to Norfolk where, in the 1970s, they founded English Country Cottages.
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