Novelist Janet Woods dies, aged 81

Novelist Janet Woods dies, aged 81

Australian novelist Janet Woods has died at the age of 81, the Kate Nash Literary Agency has confirmed.

Woods, who wrote 38 novels including the A Dorset Girl series (Simon & Schuster) and Tall Poppies, a First World War saga (Severn House), was a member of several author associations including the Romantic Novelists' Association and Romance Writers of Australia.

The writer was working on her latest book before she died.

Her publisher Kate Lyall Grant said: “I am very proud to have been Janet Woods’ publisher both at Simon & Schuster and, more recently, at Severn House. Her tales of dashing dukes, lovelorn heroines and scandalous secrets in Regency and Victorian England were characterised by a wonderful esprit and joie de vivre. I only met Janet once in person – and I only wish I could have seen her more often – but when I did, I was struck by her warmhearted, generous, bubbly personality, the same spirit which infused her writing. Both we and her readers will miss Janet very much, but I’m sure her writing will live on to entertain and enthral future generations.”

Kate Nash added: “Janet became one of my very first agency clients in 2009. Her original agent, Bob Tanner at International Scripts, had died and his partner kindly came to my house with a big box of books and contracts, and a valuable verbal handover. I was thrilled. Janet’s novels were charming and clever, her acutely observed characters waded through dramas of family and love. Born and brought up in Parkstone, Dorset, Janet later emigrated to Western Australia but drew on her early life to inspire and inform her novels, many of which were set in Dorset.

“Janet had planned a visit back to the UK but age meant this didn’t happen. I had a good friend living not far from Janet in Western Australia and she went to meet Janet on my behalf. She is really interesting to talk to, my friend wrote in an email afterwards. A family person – nearly all her books are dedicated to either grandchildren or her new great-grandchild. They enjoyed a great coffee together and Janet won a new fan.”

Her daughter Alison Larsen recalled: ”Firstly and most importantly, Mum had to give all four of her children a personally signed book, for free. When Mum died she was still working on her latest story and we were all, as with each book, proudly looking forward to our next read, signed and complimentary of course.”

Speaking on behalf of the author's family, Larsen said: “Our pride in her achievements was very great. We were all there as a family, many years ago now when Mum got attacked ferociously by that writing bug.

"Life was busy and time was precious for Mum. All she had back then, was a headful of ideas, a notepad by her bedside and a little typewriter that went clickety clack. More than that though, of course there was passion for her work and diligence.”