Birthplace of novelist Ethel Lina White, Abergavenny

button-theme-womenBirthplace of novelist Ethel Lina White, Abergavenny

Ethel Lina White was born in this building in Frogmore Street in 1876 to William and Eliza White. She became one of the best-known writers of crime fiction in Britain and America, on a par with Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers.

Portrait of noevlist Ethel Lina WhiteWilliam was a builder. His experiments with cement and bitumen led in 1881 to a patent for “an improved method or manner of building walls so as to render them damp-proof, and to increase their strength”. As his prosperity grew, he had a new house, Fairlea Grange, built in Belmont Road and the family moved there from here. Ethel was still living there, aged 35, when the 1911 census was taken.

At some point, possibly during the First World War, she joined the Ministry of Pensions. She had been a writer all her life, but it wasn’t until she was in her 50s that she achieved fame with her book The Wheel Spins, about a beautiful girl on a train and her missing companion. The story was filmed in 1936 by Alfred Hitchcock as The Lady Vanishes.

Her novel Midnight House was filmed as The Unseen. Another movie, The Spiral Staircase, was based on her novel Some Must Watch. Ethel died in London in 1944.

Today her birthplace is home to Serendipity Hair Salon.

With thanks to Caroline Fairclough, of Women’s Archive Wales

Postcode: NP7 5AN    View Location Map

Website of Serendipity Hair Salon

Women’s Archive Wales website - download the Abergavenny Women’s Heritage Walk leaflet