Pollock died Dec. 3 this year at the age of 105. She was a British romance writer who sold millions of copies of her 125 books that were published primarily by Mills & Boon under her name and 10 pseudonyms. On her 105th birthday, the Romantic Novelists Association appointed her—one of its founding members in 1960—the post of honorary vice-president.
Her early life was almost more colorful than the novels she wrote. She was illegitimate. Her mother had an affair with a Russian duke, by whom she became pregnant, but she married Arthur Crowe, a widower who was a distant connection of Lord Nelson. Pollock reports in her autobiography Stardust that when she was born, the nurse who attended her birth tried to smother her with a pillow. She published her first novel when she was 14, and while still a teenager, she traveled alone through Morocco after suffering a mental breakdown.
In 1942 she married Hugh Pollock, a distinguished World War I veteran and Winston Churchill’s collaborator and editor, whom she met when she submitted a manuscript to the firm he worked for. Hugh Pollock lost his position when the publishing company refused to keep him on because it published the books of his second ex-wife. Ida wrote prolifically for multiple publishers to support the family.
That’s a pretty great biography, but here’s the killer for me: Ida Pollock was still writing and submitting when she was 105. At the time of her death she had two Regency romances out for submission. And another thing: she was also an oil painter. One of her paintings was selected for inclusion in a national exhibition in 2004, when she was 96.
So: think you’re tired? Think no one will publish you? Think you’re past your prime? Remember Ida Pollock. And then, kids, keep calm and carry on.