Nina Bawden, 1925 - 2012
by Emma Warren

Born Nina Mabey in January 1925, the author in Nina showed itself at an early age as she would make up stories to entertain her younger brothers. With the outbreak of the Second World War, Nina was evacuated and billeted in Aberdare, South Wales; a time that was to inspire her most well-known children’s novel, Carrie’s War. At the age of 18, Nina studied at Somerville College, Oxford, where she met Harry Bawden. In 1946, Nina moved to London to be with him. The couple married later that year, and shortly afterwards Nina became pregnant with her son, Niki.

It was because of Niki that the family moved to Chertsey. The winter of 1948 was particularly bad, and Niki developed bronchitis. Nina looked for a new home out of London, in a more rural environment, that would be better for Niki’s health. She took the Green Line bus to the end of the line which just happened to be Chertsey, where, in Bridge Road, she found “a solid Georgian house with a good garden”. Nina lived at Old Bull House with Harry, Niki and their second son Robert for five years. It was here, in 1953, that Nina’s first novel, Who Calls the Tune, was published. In 1953, Nina separated from Harry and later married Austen Kark and moved to London Street where they had a daughter, Perdita. The family remained in Chertsey for a further decade before moving to Weybridge.

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