CHARLOTTE BINGHAM -           Novelist and Playwright
 
                            Charlotte at home with Tootsie and Mopsie


Charlotte was born in Haywards Heath, in Sussex, the Poets County as it was called in those days. Her earliest memories, however, do not stem from that time, but from when she was three and being taken by her nanny to stay with her paternal grandparents at their home, Bangor Castle in the North of Ireland, a house built of Scottish stone in the grand Victorian Gothic manner. Since it was here where her first memories start it is hardly surprising that so many of her novels now seem to be set in large houses with old furniture and ancestral portraits.
Returning from Ireland she first went to school in London, and subsequently to a small school in the same village where she had been born. So from seven to sixteen the Sussex Downs and seaside once again became the most important factor in her life, something again that is reflected in her novels, loving as she does to set stories either by the sea or near rolling down land.

A few days after her sixteenth birthday she left school and went to stay on the Left Bank in Paris with a family of French aristocrats with the sole purpose of learning to speak French properly. In those days the Left Bank in Paris was the place to be for it was as yet undiscovered by any but students and the elite of French literature. The old bakery shops, the street markets and winding alleys were an unexpected pleasure for a young girl who had been in a boarding school for the last ten years of her life. Alone, she would
wander into student cafes and small family restaurants carrying the statutory book of modish poetry, all the time wondering if she would ever be good enough to be published. For with parents who were both writers it was hardly surprisingly perhaps that Charlotte had started to write from the age of ten. Her first effort entitled Death's Ticket was a thriller, and this was followed shortly afterwards by many other attempts, but this time at Women's Fiction. The all important turning point in her early career, however, did not come until she was nineteen when she wrote her autobiography, by which time she had begun to despair of ever being either published or, in the terms of the time, discovered.
 
The method of her discovery by a leading literary agent of the time reads somewhat like a publicist's dream. Charlotte was sitting in the famous downstairs Ritz Bar, now aged nineteen and three quarters, celebrating finishing Coronet Among The Weeds when the gentleman in question came up to her and expressed astonishment at finding her in a place which, in those days, was not the usual haunt for nicely brought up young women. Since he was a friend of her parents he was naturally sworn to secrecy, and having warned her against too many such celebrations he promptly carried off her manuscript with him to his house in the country, and having duly read the one hundred and fifty pages declared that he could sell it anywhere. This he very promptly did within twenty four hours selling it after a small auction, to Heinemanns, the publishers.
 
Coronet Among The Weeds was to become a best seller. It was described as an irreverent look at High Society with a wonderfully funny depiction of her life as a teenager living at home with her Bohemian aristocratic parents as well as recording her search for a Superman among the male flotsam of the English Upper Classes whom she divided into Weeds, Drips and Leches. The book was published in ten countries including the USA where the Salingeresque quality of the book gave it an immediate appeal. Charlotte author-toured the US, appearing on all the top TV Chat shows and panel games as well as being cover-featured in Life magazine, Paris Match, Tatler, Vogue, Town and Country etc - and being interviewed by all the top US newspapers, most notably the New York Times and the Herald Tribune. She then followed the success of her precocious autobiography with a best selling novel entitled Lucinda, which was adapted into a highly successful television screenplay. A decade later she published the sequel to her autobiography, titled Coronet Among The Grass, describing the first ten years of her marriage to the well known actor and playwright Terence Brady. This also immediately entered the Best Selling charts and was later adapted by Brady and Bingham into the hit television comedy series No Honestly, starring another famous husband and wife team, John Alderton and Pauline Collins.

For a period of her life Charlotte Bingham pursued a career as one half of the United Kingdom's most successful writing partnerships. Together Brady and Bingham helped create and write one of Britain's most famous and enduring television dramas, Upstairs Downstairs, a series which to this day is still shown almost daily on both British satellite television and the PBS in America.

They were also responsible for other television hits, including Yes Honestly, Thomas And Sarah - the spin-off series from Upstairs Downstairs - Nanny, Take Three Girls, Pig In The Middle and Forever Green, besides authoring many successful stage plays and screenplays.
Their joint works have enjoyed global success and the writers also co-authored a series of books based on their most successful series, most notably Rose's Story, the life and times of one of the maids in Upstairs Downstairs.

More recently, Charlotte Bingham has concentrated herself on writing novels solo, beginning with To Hear A Nightingale which again became an instant Best Seller, and is still selling well, over ten years after publication. She followed this with another comparable success, The Business, and then In Sunshine Or In Shadow which to date has also sold well over 200,000 copies in the UK alone.

Altogether to date Charlotte will have published twenty eight books in this period of work with the appearance of The House Of Flowers (pub. August 2000), while her total volume of published fiction is over 30 titles.
Charlotte Bingham lives and works in an early eighteenth century Somerset house that was once a Rectory. She has a first floor study which overlooks part of the gardens and a small lake which is home to geese, moorhens, ducks, kingfishers and many other arriving and departing birds. Perhaps, because of this, her recent work more and more reflects the countryside. Sometimes it is the countryside in which she grew up, rural Sussex after the Second World War, and sometimes it is the West Country.

                   Newlyweds Terence Brady and Charlotte Bingham
                           pose in front of one of Terence's paintings.
                               Copyright Charlotte Bingham 2012

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