Gladys Malvern wrote almost four dozen books in her prolific career as a writer of historical and biographical Young Adult fiction. She was born in Newark, New Jersey on July 17, 1897. Her family roots were in Virginia and her ancestors include such historic American names as Lee, Rolfe,... show more
Gladys Malvern wrote almost four dozen books in her prolific career as a writer of historical and biographical Young Adult fiction. She was born in Newark, New Jersey on July 17, 1897. Her family roots were in Virginia and her ancestors include such historic American names as Lee, Rolfe, Randolph, and Custis. Gladys, her sister Corinne, and their mother Cora Malvern worked in vaudeville and Broadway, as well as traveling stock theater. Cora Malvern was a wardrobe mistress and Gladys and Corinne were "stage kids," acting in numerous minor stage roles. In 1908, at the age of 11, Gladys Malvern received her first big break, appearing in the Broadway play, "The Man Who Stood Still." By the age of fourteen, she was considered a leading lady in stock theater productions.Corinne suffered a stage injury at an early age, effectively ending her acting career and Gladys, at age 21, was already tiring of the constant vagabond lifestyle required for touring productions. The Malvern family moved to Los Angeles in the 1920s, where Corinne worked as a Fashion Artist and Gladys worked writing advertising copy. Gladys was quoted discussing her younger years in The Junior Book of Authors (1951):"...until I was twenty-one, home to me was anywhere--hotels, trains, boarding houses; for my sister, Corinne Malvern, and I were 'stage children.' When I stopped being a 'stage child,' I became what they called an ingenue, and then a leading lady. But by this time I had decided I didn't like wandering about, and I began to think how nice it would be to have a home like other people."...(Corinne) had given up acting and gone in for art. So I finally gave up the stage, too, and thought I'd write for a living. That shows how optimistic I was. To write doesn't cost anything, but buying stamps to send out what I wrote had a way of adding up to money, because it hardly seemed I'd dropped the stories into the mailbox before there they were again!"Advertising is a very good business. I liked it immensely and stuck with it for about twelve years. But after work, being very stubborn in this matter, I continued to write. And I wrote. And I wrote. Finally--oh, after I'd torn up any number of manuscripts--I sold a book... And somehow or other I began to feel encouraged. In fact, after I'd sold three novels, I felt so brave I gave up my advertising job. We sold the lamps and the easy chairs and most of the books, and came blithely to New York." The Malverns moved to New York sometime between 1934 and 1936, and Gladys settled down to the serious business of professional writing, sharing an apartment with her sister Corinne, overlooking the Hudson River. Corinne illustrated most of Gladys' books until the artist's death in 1956. Settling in Weston, Connecticut, Gladys continued to produce historic novels at a prolific rate. She passed away at her home in Weston, Connecticut in November of 1962 with two manuscripts still unpublished. Both The World of Lady Jane Grey and The Six Wives of Henry VIII were published posthumously in 1971.