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Romance novelist Ida Pollock dies at 105

LONDON (AP) - Ida Pollock once said she was born to write. And so she did- millions of words over more than seven decades, spinning tales of impecunious young women romanced by handsome older men in far-flung locations.

The centenarian author of more than 120 books, believed to be the world's oldest romantic novelist, has died at the age of 105.

Daughter Rosemary Pollock- also a romance novelist- said the writer died Dec. 3 at a nursing home near her house in Lanreath, southwest England.

Born in London in 1908 and raised by a single mother, Pollock had her first stories published while she was in her teens, and went on to write scores of books under almost a dozen pseudonyms. Her output included some 70 "bodice-rippers" for romance publisher Mills & Boon, the British arm of Harlequin Enterprises.

Pollock's daughter said writing was her mother's passion, but romance was not her original genre.

"I think she would have liked to be a thriller writer," Rosemary Pollock said. "She enjoyed reading thrillers, more than romantic fiction.

"She told me about one or two rather grim stories she wrote when she was very young- one was about a Japanese woman in a garden who strangled her lover with her hair.

"(But) my grandmother was always saying, `Why don't you write something pretty? That's the way to get on.'

"Then she thought, love stories- Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen- she could go with that."

After an adventurous early life that included a solo trip to Morocco while still a teenager and work in London during the Blitz, Pollock took up writing intensely to support her family after her husband went bankrupt in 1950.

"And then she was happy," her daughter said. "She was a lovely, charming mother but she was in a dream until she got back to her writing- and then she was herself."

Ida Pollock said she could finish a book in six weeks and produced 40 in one five-year period.

Her novels- written as Susan Barrie, Rose Burghley, Marguerite Bell and others- had titles like "White Heat," "The Devil's Daughter" and "The Sweet Surrender." They stuck to the formula of sparring but ultimately happy unions between inexperienced young heroines and dashing older men.

"Her heroes were always strong and I think father figures, because I think maybe that's what she wanted herself," her daughter said. "It's not that the heroines were weak. They usually had a few troubles and were alone in the world. ... They were drifting as perhaps she had."

Ida Pollock said her books were "full of hope and romance rather than sex" and always contained one crucial element: "A happy ending is an absolute must."

She also published a memoir, "Starlight."

Her 124th and 125th novels, romances set in the Regency period, are due for publication next year.

Pollock's husband was the soldier and publisher Hugh Pollock, who had previously been married to children's writer Enid Blyton and edited Winston Churchill's book "The World Crisis."

"Even though he had edited Winston Churchill, he wasn't allowed to edit my mother," Rosemary Pollock said.

Hugh Pollock died in 1971. Ida Pollock is survived by Rosemary.

A funeral is being planned for next week in Lanreath.

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Follow Jill Lawless at http://twitter.com/JillLawless


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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