Marion Catherine (Kitty) Streatfeild née Barne (1883-1961) was a brilliant natural musician. She studied the piano at the Royal College of Music but was forced to abandon all thoughts of a career as a professional musician when an apparently simple operation on her ear went tragically wrong and left her deaf. She still enjoyed amateur music making, conducted small choirs, produced musical pageants and plays for children, and eventually became the Girl Guides Commissioner for Music and Drama.
When she collapsed from overwork, her cousin-by-marriage, Noel Streatfeild, suggested that instead of writing and producing plays for children, she might write books for them instead, and the first should be about a musical child. She Shall Have Music was published in 1938 and was a huge success and a runner-up for that year’s Carnegie Medal. It was to be followed by many more books for children, including the 1940 Carnegie Medal winner, Visitors from London, and many with music or drama backgrounds. She also wrote plays and non-fiction works for children and a handful of novels for adults, including While the Music Lasted, the little known sequel to She Shall Have Music.
Kitty Barne died in 1961.