Edith Templeton

Today in Mailbox: response to Radio Prague's programmes, Radio Prague's 75th anniversary, a possibility to comment on Radio Prague's articles, the monthly listeners's quiz. Listeners quoted: Sandeep Jawale, David Eldridge, Mary Lou Krenek, John Breaux, Li Ming, Chun-Quan Meng, Xiu-ping Qian, Ragu Arumugam, Zenon Teles, Hans Verner Lollike, Jayanta Chakrabarty, Colin Law, Charles Konecny.

Hello and welcome to Mailbox. Today is the day when we announce the name of the lucky winner of last month’s listeners’ quiz but first up we have some reactions to our programmes.

Sandeep Jawale from India responds to a recent series of Czech Books produced by David Vaughan:

“The interview with the nurse and her feelings about the Führer was quite amazing. It is simply great that Radio Prague broadcasts such recordings. Jaroslava Skleničková's moving memoirs, ‘If I had been a boy, I would have been shot…’ reflect how horrifying were the days faced by the Czech people under Nazi rule.”

David Eldridge from the United Kingdom returns to the recent “baby-box controversy”:

“Each time I hear of the Czech Republic's ‘baby-box’ scheme I think of an incident that took place here in the UK near to where I live.

“A new-born baby was taken to the steps of a clinic wrapped in a warm blanket and left with a note requesting that the baby please be looked after. Unfortunately the path by the clinic was also used for access to a parking lot and a vehicle passed the clinic and ran over the bundle thinking it to be trash. The crushed baby was found later. The authorities classified the incident as being ‘unfortunate’.

“Baby boxes are illegal here in the UK. I always think of that crushed baby when the subject of baby-boxes arises and how much better it would have been if a nice warm box could have been available for the child. But then, perhaps to the satisfaction of UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the child won't now have to suffer the indignity of having its human rights violated by not knowing who its biological parents are. The people ‘of high moral character’ (the United Nation's own description) that serve on the Committee seem to lack a sense of perspective.”

Mary Lou Krenek from Texas responds to another topic:

“It disturbed me to read that the Czech Republic is jeopardizing its commitment to the NATO alliance by reducing its military spending. Everyone seems to be finding ways to cut spending these days to heal public finances. We cannot forget the painstaking steps it took for the Czech Republic to finally become a member of NATO.

“It was sad to discover that Jiří Dienstbier passed away. He was a much respected person internationally as a former dissident and Czech Foreign Minister. I was intrigued and intimately familiar with his activities while doing research on Charter 77 in the eighties. He was a courageous and accomplished individual.”

John Breaux from the Czech Republic wrote:

“Thanks for helping us expats learn more about Czech life etc. I really enjoy reading your articles on line but I wish you had an area for comments.”

75th anniversary of Radio Prague
As for now, you can comment on Radio Prague articles on our Facebook page ( Our internet department tells me that a similar application is being considered for in the future.

Li Ming from China was one of the first to wish Radio Prague a happy 75th birthday:

“It gives me great pleasure to applaud Radio Prague on reaching this milestone. August 31, 2011 is an important day for Radio Prague, for it has been 75 years since the start of its broadcasting. To a human, 75 years is a very long time in the life, and it is also the same to a radio station. Although I have been listening to you for only several years, your station provides me with much latest information about political, economic and cultural affairs in the Czech Republic. Radio Prague is just like a window, contributing tremendously to the world's international knowledge and understanding, and cultivates friendship between the Czech people and the rest of the world. I am quite sure the next 75 years will bring more development and even greater achievements for Radio Prague. I hope you have well deserved and enjoyable 75th anniversary celebrations.”

Thank you very much and you can look forward to special programmes dedicated to the anniversary.

Now onto our July mystery lady:

Chun-Quan Meng from China wrote:

“Edith Templeton was born in Prague in 1916, and spent much of her childhood in a castle in the Bohemian countryside. She left Prague in 1938 to marry an Englishman. She lived in various parts of Europe and made her final home in Bordighera, on the northwest coast of Italy. Edith Templeton died in June 2006. She also wrote under the pseudonym Louise Walbrook.”

Xiu-ping Qian from China writes:

“I've just enjoyed the latest Mailbox via your web. According to the clue, I've figured out the solution to this month's quiz question. She's Edith Templeton (1916-2006), a great Prague-born novelist who left the country at 22 and moved to England in 1938, and died in Italy in 2006.”

Ragu Arumugam from India wrote:

“'Every word of it is true' was the title of [a Czech Books programme] on Edith Templeton by David Vaughan and Bernie Higgins on Radio Prague, which came on air 13th August 2006. …I would have missed a lot from English literature, if the Radio Prague has not asked this kind of question. Thanks to Radio Prague.”

Zenon Teles from India sent us this:

“The answer is Edith Templeton who also wrote under the pseudonym Louise Walbrook. Her works include novels: Summer in the Country (1950), Living on Yesterday (1951), The Island of Desire (1952), The Proper Bohemians (1952), This Charming Pastime (1955), Gordon (1966; republished under her real name in 2003), Murder in Estoril (1992), a collection of stories The Darts of Cupid (2002) and a travel book The Surprise of Cremona.”

Hans Verner Lollike from Denmark writes:

“Prague again proves to be a cosmopolitan world city, being home to people who spend their life all over the world. In many cases wars made people leave, but this month’s novelist had love as the reason to leave the city, when she as 22-years-old went for marriage in England.”

Jayanta Chakrabarty from India wrote:

“Edith Templeton is perhaps the most assertive and adventurous Czech novelist whose works reflect a unique style and enigmatic sentiment. Writing under the pseudonym Louise Walbrook, her 1966 ‘Gordon’ sent shockwaves across the world, allegedly for its indecency and portrayal of women as a victim of humiliation and insensitiveness. However, the novel is a serious study of a confused and dislocated Europe in the aftermath of the war. Herself a widely travelled writer, her seminal 1950 travelogue, ‘The Surprise of Cremona’ describes her adventures and explorations of northern Italian exotic towns like Cremona and Parma. We in India are proud to be associated with this great Czech soul as she spent a part of her hectic life in this country with husband, Dr Edmund Ronald, a renowned cardiologist and physician to the royal family of Nepal. While living in India she met prominent personalities like Nehru and the Dalai Lama. This great Czech soul occupies a significant place in the history of women's writing.”

Mary Lou Krenek from Texas writes:

“Our mystery person for July is Edith Templeton. She was featured in a Prague Radio article in August, 2006. She is best known for being an author associated with scandal due to the degree of sexual explicitness in many of her works.”

Colin Law New Zealand wrote:

“Edith Passerová was born into the wealthy Passer family who not only owned the 14th century Castle Jirny, about 5km from Prague, but also had extensive property in the region. Some of her early childhood years were spent living in Vienna with her mother, but they returned to Prague where Edith studied at the French lycée. Her summer holidays were spent at the castle and she is quoted from a letter as saying ‘... When you got off the train at the station in Čelákovice, everything belonged to us, everything, to God knows where.’

“The first Edith Passerová story was published in the ‘Prager Tagblatt’ when she was only 10 years old. After graduating from high school Edith studied medicine at Prague University. In 1938, to escape the impending German occupation of Bohemia, she moved to England. She married William Stockwell Templeton in early 1939, but the marriage did not last long.

“During World War II Edith worked at the Ministry of Defence. After the war she worked as an interpreter and became a captain in the British Army in Germany, interpreting at war courts.

“Edith Templeton’s short stories, written in English, began to appear in the “The New Yorker” magazine from 1950. Many of them were based on recollections from her childhood and Castle Jirny. Among them were ‘The Dress Rehearsal’, ‘Talking of Count Sternborn’, ‘Early Tea at the Castle’ and ‘A Day in the Country’. Famous for its frescoes by renowned Bohemian painter, Josef Navrátil, commissioned by Edith’s grandfather Martin Wagner, the castle is currently undergoing major renovations to turn it into a walled luxury residential project ‘Bydlení na zámku’ (Living in the castle) with an area of 30,000 square metres.

“Several novels by Edith Templeton, published in the 1950s, included ‘Living on Yesterday’ and ‘The Island of Desire’.

“Edith’s second marriage was in 1956, to Edmund Ronald, a physician who took her to India and subsequently became personal physician to the Nepalese king.

“The novel ‘Gordon’, first published by Olympia Press in 1966 under Edith’s pseudonym Louise Walbrook, was subsequently banned in England and Germany. However it was then published in France in 1968 by Maurice Girodias, but because of the British ban it could be sold only on the continent.

“Edith Templeton lived in various parts of Europe including Paris, Lausanne and Salzburg and finally settled in Bordighera on the Italian Riviera where she died in June, 2006.”

Charles Konecny from the United States wrote:

“This lady got around and one has to say she lived an interesting life. Raised in a castle, good education, and then off to see the world. And along the way she wrote articles and novels about subjects that ranged from A to Z (some witty, some erotic, even a travel book). With all the places she lived, one wonders when she found time to write between all the packing and unpacking. But she got it done, and love her or hate her, she was definitely her own woman.”

Thank you again for your answers and the time you dedicated to research. This time the winner is Chun-Quan Meng from China. Congratulations and a parcel will be on its way to Xi'an first thing on Monday. Of course, I won’t leave you without a quiz question.

In August we are looking for the name of a Mexican film actress who was born in 1926 in Prague and died in Mexico City only 29 years later.

Please send us her name by the end of August to [email protected] along with your comments and questions. Mailbox will be back on August 20th. Until then, take care.