Rosamunde Pilcher – top selling author, writer of ‘The Shell Seekers’ read by millions, incredibly popular in Germany

Rosamunde Pilcher

Rosamunde Pilcher was born 22 September 1924 in Lelant, Cornwall and is a Cornish novelist with many of her books based in Kernow.

Her first school was St. Clare's Polwithen, Cornwall. When the school later became co-educational in 1995 it was renamed Bolitho School and is still going strong affiliated to, but independent of, the Woodard Foundation. Rosamunde Pilcher in her televised novel ‘Coming Home’ depicts life at the school in the inter war era. Much has changed since those days but the caring family ethos portrayed in her book - continues to be a dominant feature of the School today.
She then moved away from Cornwall, attending Howell's School Llandaff, followed by Miss Kerr-Sanders' Secretarial College.

She served with the Women's Royal Naval Service 1943-46 as a secretary including top secret work at Bletchley Park.

She married Graham Hope Pilcher in 1946. They have two daughters and two sons. She moved to Dundee, Scotland, where she continued to live.


She began writing when she was seven, and published her first short story when she was 18.

Rosamunde got her biggest break in 1949 as an author of Mills and Boon romances, under the name Jane Fraser. She published 10 novels using that pen-name. Her first novel as Rosamunde Pilcher, A Secret to Tell, was published in 1955. In 1965 she began to use her own name full time.

A bigger breakthrough in her career came in 1987 when already at the age of 63 she wrote the family saga The Shell-Seekers. Since then her books have made her one of the more successful contemporary female authors.

The Shell Seekers, focuses on Penelope Stern Keeling, an elderly woman who relives her life in flashbacks, and on her relationship with her adult children. Keeling's life was not extraordinary, but it spans a time of huge importance and change in the world. The novel describes the everyday details of what life during World War II was like for some of those who lived in Britain. The Shell Seekers has sold more than five million copies worldwide and was adapted for the stage by Terence Brady and Charlotte Bingham

Her books are especially popular in Germany, where the national TV station ZDF has produced nearly 40 of her stories for TV. Both Pilcher and ZDF programme director Dr. Claus Beling were awarded the British Tourism Award in 2002 for the effect the books and the TV versions had on UK tourism.

This article has been kindly provided by Kernow Matters to Us and is the sixteenth in a series on Famous Folk of Kernow (Cornwall).