WHEN a Blue Plaque marking author Norah Lofts’ life in Bury St Edmunds was unveiled on Friday, it made one man very proud.
Her son Clive still lives next door to Northgate House, in Northgate Street, which was her home from 1955 until her death in 1983.
He had long felt her connection to the town where she wrote her 60 books should have been marked and had even thought of funding a plaque himself.
He is still a hurt that about 10 years ago, after reading in the Bury Free Press that English Heritage wanted ideas for blue plaques in the East, they rejected his suggestion saying she had ‘insufficient stature and historical significance’. Yet at about that time visitors to a Moyse’s Hall Museum display about her brought copies of her books for him to sign.
So he welcomed the Bury Society making her the subject one of seven plaques, approved by English Heritage. “I’m very proud of what my mother achieved,” he said. “It’s nice she has the recognition she deserved. She lived in Bury for 70 years and before she began writing she taught here at the County School.”
Born in Norfolk in 1904, her family moved to 25 Northgate Street when she was 10, so she already knew the house she bought in 1955.
She wrote mostly historical novels in her own name but also used the pen name Peter Curtis for books she felt were ‘not typical Norah Lofts’, like The Devil’s Own in 1960. Hammer filmed it as The Witches and it was republished last year with that title.
Clive admits he was not aware of her work until his teens but he still has the first of her books he read at 13, a copy of Eleanor the Queen inscribed by her to him as ‘first off the press’ in June 1955.