Phyllis Matthewman was born in Leeds on 19 January 1896, the elder daughter of Thomas Barton, an insurance manager, and his wife, Ada Mary Pollard. She had one surviving sister, Joyce. She was educated at Leeds High School. Elinor Brent-Dyer was an early acquaintance through Phyllis’s aunt, who knew the Dyers. After her father’s premature death, her mother took in paying guests; there was no opportunity for Phyllis to obtain any higher education. In 1930 she married Sydney Matthewman, a well-read man with literary ambitions, whose father ran the Swan Press in Leeds, and who had connections in the publishing and literary worlds. There were no children of the marriage. They lived variously in Leeds, Tottenham, Hindhead, Gosport and Merstham in Surrey. When Sidney had a breakdown, Phyllis took a post as secretary to an elderly lady in Hindhead, and began writing; Sidney assisted her with plotting, characterisation and revision, and helped to place her books through his publishing connections. In the late 1940s, he set up a literary agency; Brent-Dyer was also a client. In 1964, the Matthewmans moved to Redhill in a joint establishment, Gryphons, with Brent-Dyer until the latter’s death in 1969. Sydney died on 6 September 1970, and Phyllis on 6 July 1979. With thanks to The Encyclopaedia of Girls’ School Stories Volume Two for this information.
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