Born in 1915 in Wallasey, Cheshire, Mabel Esther Allan knew by the age of eight that she was going to be a writer. Poor eyesight blighted her schooldays, but she enjoyed ballet and folk dancing, being inspired to some degree by Elsie J. Oxenham’s Abbey series, and she later taught classes for the English Folk Dance Society. Her first book, The Glen Castle Mystery, was accepted in 1939 but publication was delayed until after the war. Her own war work included the Women’s Land Army, prep school teaching and being Nursery Warden in a factory in the Liverpool slums. After the war she travelled widely, especially liking Paris, Italy, New York, Wales and Scotland, and a sense of place became an important part of her fiction.
As well as writing under her own name, she used the pseudonyms Jean Estoril, Anne Pilgrim and Priscilla Hagon. She was a prolific children’s author, but wrote only three books for adults, the murder mystery novels Murder at the Flood (Stanley Paul 1957), Death Goes to Italy (Greyladies 2011) and Death Goes Dancing (Greyladies 2014).