Obituary: Marilyn Dugdale

Obituary: Marilyn Dugdale

Author Marilyn Dugdale, née Edwards (30th April 1946– 28th June 2017), has died following a long and courageous battle with cancer.

Marilyn’s remarkable and wide-ranging career in publishing began in 1965 as press officer at the Publishers Association, where she was the organiser and PR for the Booker Prize from its very first year. Between 1969 and 1974, she worked as the press officer for the Booker Prize and as children’s books officer for the National Book League. Pursuing her obvious flair for organising and publicity, she then joined Jonathan Cape in 1974 as publicity director, working with, among others, John Fowles, Desmond Morris, John Irving and Lauren Bacall.

Morris remembers her as “tirelessly cheerful, helpful and charming and I have never had a more delightful companion when on arduous [book] tours with their seemingly endless series of interviews and appearances. She made it all a pleasure instead of a burden, so much so that we kept in touch many years later when she was writing books about one of our shared interests—cats.”

While working at Cape she met and married travel writer Geoffrey Moorhouse, and it was as Marilyn Moorhouse that she was best known, spending the next 21 years as one of the most passionate, dedicated and effective salespeople ever to grace the book trade. When the marriage ended—by which time she had become the North of England sales representative for Random House—she moved from her beloved Yorkshire to London, to take up a new role with RH as group key accounts manager. Her skills, professionalism and dedication to the lists she represented were never less than total, and her support for her customers was similarly all-encompassing.

During this time she married fellow Northerner Michael Dugdale, the Random House field sales director, and on her retirement in 2004 she and Michael moved to Hutton Roof, a hill village in Cumbria, where they lived very happily with their three cats. Her love of cats inspired Marilyn to take up writing, and she had four memoirs about cats published under her maiden name, including The Cats of Moon Cottage and The Coach House Cats, along with two children’s novels, White Chin and Magnificat, also about cats.

Michael and Marilyn’s close friend, publisher Christopher MacLehose, has said of the couple: ‘‘Their cottage itself, filled with books and character and cats—not to mention the heroic meals—is a memory that will never leave me: always open to the garden and the birdsong. They never looked other than bookish Londoners to me, but as soon as you found them on that hilltop a million miles from
London, they were Cumbrians. Deeply civilised people, and a joy to have spent time at their hearth.”

Marilyn lived life to the full. Funny, wise and compassionate she will be sorely missed, but she will also be forever treasured by everyone who knew and loved her.