I’ve wanted to write a blog post on Ms. Fry, author of the achingly beautiful story The Secret of Roan Inish, ever since I realized that the lovely film was based on a book. Try Googling her, though, and nothing comes up but the titles of her books. For some odd reason the University of Southern Mississippi has her “papers” and their website condenses her biographical facts into two short sentences: “Rosalie K. Fry was born in Vancouver, Canada, and lived as an adult in England and Wales. She attended school in Wales and in London at the Central School of Arts.”
Wales and the art school explain a lot but only through inference. I thought perhaps purchasing a collection of her books might shed some light and one of them did: the back cover of A Bell for Ringblume offered the following:
“This author was born on Vancouver Island. She makes her home in Swansea, South Wales. During World War II she was stationed in the Orkney Islands, where she was employed as a Cypher Officer in the Women’s Royal Service. She has written many stories and executed many drawings for a variety of children’s magazines in Great Britain. She is also known as a maker of children’s toys. Her books, which she has also illustrated, have included: Bumblebuzz; Lady Bug! Lady Bug!; Bandy Boy’s Treasure Island; Pipkin Sees the World; Cinderella’s Mouse and other Fairy Tales; and The Wind Call.”
Three of my books features heroic WWII women so when I read of Fry's wartime work I immediately gave a hearty huzzah for her. Like so many other women of the time, she had placed her life on hold in order to do battle with Fascism.
When I wrote an earlier edition of this blog post, back in 2012 (www.myenglishfinal.blogspot.com), a fellow-Fry fan in the UK sent me some biographical information on her, a chapter in a "About the Author" book. He also sent me this:
This is the Secret of Roan Inish story, originally known as The Secret of Ron Mor Skerry, but this Canadian version had a slightly different title. I was on cloud nine for about a year.
I've reviewed several of Fry's books and one just arrived in the mail last week. I'd love to write a biography of her but until I find more material I will keep searching within the pages of her fiction for the person who set aside the creation of lovely worlds in order to decode for king and country.