Educated at North London Collegiate School (which she loved) and the University of Reading (which she loathed), she was first published in her school magazine. The short story, pithy and utterly brilliant from the pen of a six-year-old, heralded the dedication and tenacity of her career. She called the story The Good Fairy. She has no further comment to make on her choice of title and rarely gives interviews.
During her many years in publishing, Valerie acquired a variety of nicknames. At Oxford University Press she was The Ogre Queen because she had inherited a list of Oxford Graded Readers. In one smaller and rather disorganised publisher she became known as Genghis Khan. Later, running Wordwise, her home-based freelance enterprise, everybody called her Eagle Eye.
In her private family life, Valerie is Mum to Sir Sam Mendes, and Granny Val to her beloved grandchildren.
Valerie is still a meticulous Editor, but only of her own work. She has just completed her third historical novel, Beatrice and Alexander, together with Not Only But Also: A Memoir.
Valerie is currently writing a long-awaited sequel to Larkswood. It is called Flight of the Lark.
Photo by: Chris Challis Photography