Lucilla Andrews

Romantic novelist

Born: 21 November, 1919, in Suez.

Died: 3 October, 2006, in Edinburgh, aged 86.

IN A career that spanned 40 years, Lucilla Andrews wrote some 37 novels and numerous short stories. She often recreated in her novels her own wartime experience as a nurse in London, with many being set in hospitals, involving affairs between nurses and doctors. Her books had a strong sense of reality and the stories were driven on by Andrews' keen ability as a storyteller. She came to live in Edinburgh in 1969 and some of her subsequent novels had Scotland at their centre.

Despite her racy subject matter, Andrews always preserved a feeling of good manners and proprietary. Her books seldom descend into scenes of wild sexual passion. However, "I don't cheat," she once told The Scotsman. "I don't describe the man reaching the bedroom door and then leave it to the imagination."

The Guardian called Andrews, "The brand leader in hospital fiction."

Lucilla Andrews (known as Lucy within her family and to friends) was born in Suez where her father was employed by the Eastern Telegraph Company. She returned to England for her schooling and then worked for the Red Cross. On the outbreak of war, she began her nurse's training at St Thomas's Hospital.

The hospital specialised in treating many of the seriously war wounded, and Andrews had to care for many pilots from the Battle of Britain and casualites of the Blitz.

In 1947, following a hospital romance of her own, she married Dr James Crichton, but sadly he died within months of the birth of their daughter, Veronica. Andrews, always a practical and resourceful woman, realised she had to increase her income so that her daughter could receive a good education. She began by submitting stories to magazines (her first accepted article was in Good Housekeeping and she was paid 25 guineas). But it was a punishing schedule: Andrews wrote by day and nursed at night. She decided to concentrate on writing for, as she said: "It was about the only world I knew."

Her first novel was not published until 1954 and Andrews had to suffer many disappointments before publication. She submitted The Print Petticoat - based on much of her wartime experience - to six publishers before one accepted it on condition there were substantial rewrites. She gave the book (as she described it) "a much lighter touch, and the inclusion of at least one major love affair".

The result was a vivid story with strong characters that was widely read by the medical profession and the public at large. Much of the day-to-day detail of the book originated from the daily notes Andrews had kept of her personal experiences on the wards.

Andrews's 1969 move to Edinburgh came after her having looked at many other cities. She fell in love with Scotland's capital at first sight. Despite her maiden and married names, she had no connections with Scotland, but settled here with verve and enthusiasm.

Many of her books had Scottish backgrounds; In An Edinburgh Drawing Room was published in 1983 and tells of a searing romance set in a Scottish hospital, but many continued the medical theme in London. Front Line 1940, for example, follows the romance between an American war correspondent and a young staff nurse.

The novels reflect the era in which Andrews grew up and captured much of her own youth. A Hospital Summer (1958) was set in Kent in a hospital evacuated there from London after bombing. It and No Time For Romance - in which the sufferings of the Blitz are brought vividly alive - are now considered remarkable first-hand records of London during the war.

In 1989, Andrews found herself in the group of distinguished authors whose books are among the most borrowed from the public libraries. The Public Lending Right scheme placed her near the top of the list and it had the added advantage of increasing her income considerably.

Andrews continued writing until quite recently. She was a spry and active lady with a broad and welcoming smile and personality. She had been a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association since 1960 and received a Life Time Award from them in the Scottish Parliament in August.

Her daughter died of cancer in 2002. She is survived by her brother.

Back to the top of the page