Eleanor as Salieri
Eleanor Berry is the author of over 25 books and says her first brush with literature was when she broke windows in Ian Fleming’s house at the age of eight. “He struck me as being a singularly disagreeable man with no understanding of children,” she recalls.
Eleanor specialises in black humour. Of Welsh ancestry, she was born and bred in London. She holds a BA Hons, a 2:2, in English, and attended Sussex University.
While at university she completed an unpublished contextual thesis on The Marquis De Sade (whom she refers to as “De Soggins”). In her spare time, she wrote a grossly indecent book, entitled The Story of Paddy, which she had the good sense to burn, and inadvertently set a garage on fire.
After leaving university she worked as a commercial translator, using French and Russian. She then worked as a debt collector for a Harley Street specialist, namely Dr. Ratner who died suspiciously. She has since worked intermittently as a medical secretary. She was sacked unfairly from St Bartholomew’s Hospital, in London, because she had been a close friend of the late Robert Maxwell’s. (She had worked there for five years, and her boss was acutely jealous.)
Eleanor then worked at an abortion clinic, in London, for one week only. One morning, her office was thronged with impatient, foul-mouthed prostitutes, none of whom could remember when her last menstrual period was. Hence, Eleanor did not know whether to put them on the Monday afternoon list, the Wednesday afternoon list, or the Friday morning list. She was so confused and frustrated that she burst into tears and handed in her notice.
For a short period of time, Eleanor did voluntary work and read Dostoevsky to the blind. She discontinued this abruptly, when a 96-year-old woman mistook her voice for that of her 75-year-old son. She now spends all her time as a writer.
Two of her novels are available in Russian.
Her interests, among others, include Russian literature, Russian folk songs, Irish rebel songs, the cinema, amateur piano playing, sensational court cases, the medical profession, the sight of men who wear their ties loosened at the neck, entertaining her nephews and swimming across Marseille harbour for kicks. When she dies, she will have her ashes scattered over Marseille harbour, her favourite place.
Eleanor was arrested at Marseille Airport in August 1978 because she dislocated an Algerian woman’s jaw on the grounds that the woman was being cruel to a dog. When she was arrested, she told the gendarmes that she had the same birthday as Robespierre, which, for some reason, caused them to giggle hysterically and invite her out for a drink with them (she was not charged, but missed her plane).
Eleanor is the maternal niece of the late, famous self-confessed gypsy author, Eleanor Smith, after whom she was named. Sadly, Eleanor Smith died before Eleanor Berry was born. Eleanor Smith was a vindictive woman who believed in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Eleanor Berry believes in an eye for a tooth and a limb for an eye, so woe betide anyone who crosses her path!
To give an example of this, the late Labour MP, Peter Shore, in a public place, described Eleanor’s beloved father as an “absolute shit”. The revenge Eleanor took against him was not physical. It was psychological. So unpleasant was it, that Eleanor refuses to account for it, for fear that all the members of her family and friends will never speak to her again.
Renowned for her black comedies, Eleanor is known to the inhabitants of Manchester as “that lovely lass from London”, and to her Russian readers (of her novels “Your Father Died on the Gallows”, and “The Ruin of Jessie Cavendish”, she has been reviewed in the Russian magazine, Minuta and has been referred to as “almost a reincarnation of our own beloved Dostoevsky.”
Eleanor is the youngest daughter of the late Lord Hartwell, former chairman and editor-in-chief of The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph, and the youngest maternal granddaughter of the famous self-made barrister (who seldom lost a case) and brilliant wit F. E. Smith, later to become the Earl of Birkenhead, Lord Chancellor, and Secretary of State for India.
Before attending Sussex university, Eleanor was schooled at Godstowe and Wycombe Abbey. During her gap year at university, she attended the Sorbonne in Paris, but stormed out of a lecture hall, disgusted by the lecturer’s statement that Madame Bovary’s problems would have been solved, had she got down on her hands and knees and scrubbed floors.
Before working at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, Eleanor tried her hand at verbal interpretation using French, but lost her head and shouted at the parties concerned, and to quote her own words was “bunged out”.
Eleanor has frequently appeared on television and radio, including Radio California, and is the author of numerous articles in ‘The Oldie Magazine’, one of which is about her friendship with Reggie Kray, who insisted on calling her Elayna Burree!
The most famous of her books are ‘Robert Maxwell: The Truth At Last’; ‘Sixty Funny Stories’ which is basically autobiographical; ‘My Father Was a Newspaper Man’ and ‘The Rendon Boy to the Grave has Gone’.
Finally, like a character from one of her novels, Eleanor’s life has been stranger than fiction. She is particularly well known for her adoring relationship with the late Robert Maxwell.