TESSA ARLEN, the daughter of a British diplomat, had lived in or visited her parents in Singapore, Cairo, Berlin, the Persian Gulf, Beijing, Delhi and Warsaw by the time she was sixteen. She came to the U.S. in 1980 and worked as an H.R. recruiter for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee for the 1984 Olympic Games, where she interviewed her future husband for a job. DEATH OF A DISHONORABLE GENTLEMAN is Tessa’s first novel. She lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington.
“The other day I was asked why I chose to write a historical mystery series and the simple answer is because history was the only subject in school, apart from English Literature, that held any genuine interest or that I was particularly good at. I was a terrible student; a real day-dreamer! My parents lived abroad and I was sent home to school in England when I was ten. The contrast between my boarding school at the top of a windy hill in the Chilterns with its drafty dormitories and frightful food was a stark one to my earlier life in the exotic and colorful tropics. I was in such culture shock I simply disappeared into my own world for eight years; rescued from complete academic disaster by my history teacher, Elfreda Lady Neale. She was a strange old lady: tall, rather stooped with straight, iron-gray hair. She spoke in such a low tone we had to lean forward to hear her. But my goodness she made her subject come alive! She was very fond of telling us that history was simply “very old gossip.” I have been a fascinated amateur historian ever since.
The years before the Great War have always been intriguing to me, so it was easy to choose this era for my books. Life for the privileged few was idyllic thanks to their servants, their money and the rigidity of the class system, whereas the ‘have-nots’ had a much grimmer time of it.
My two amateur sleuths in the Lady Montfort series are from opposite ends of the class system, and struggle with issues in context with their time and place in history. Clementine Elizabeth Talbot the Countess of Montfort is from of one of the oldest families in England, and her housekeeper, Edith Jackson, was raised in a parish orphanage. Together these two remarkable women step lightly across the great class divide to unite their considerable talents in clandestine inquiries that take them into all walks of life in the early decades of the 20th century.”