Jean Overton Fuller

1915 – 2009

H O M E

B I B L I O G R A P H Y

P O E T R Y   &   E S S A Y S

P A I N T I N G S

N O O R   I N A Y A T   K H A N

I N T E R V I E W S

O B I T U A R Y

W Y M I N G T O N   R E M E M B E R S

W R I T E R  -  P A I N T E R  -  M Y S T I C

Jean Overton Fuller Jean Overton Fuller as a little girl

In the Spring of 1975, Miss Jean Overton Fuller moved from London to live at Steep House, Church Lane, Wymington on the Northamptonshire / Bedford border. Her new life there began at the age of 60 years. Sharing her home were a roost of chickens and her beloved cats.

Miss Fuller could often be seen looking under hedges and peering into ditches, to gather her children of fur and feathers back home. Or with a sheaf of letters in her hand, walking along to the village post box. She was a small, stooped old lady with a deep, ringing voice. Loud, because of her deafness. A solitary figure, sometimes with her small black cat Leo scampering behind.

Jean Overton Fuller at RADA

At RADA

Jean Violet Overton Fuller was born in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire on March 7th 1915. Her father, a Captain in the Indian army, had been killed in action and never lived to see his daughter. Despite this sad beginning, Jean had a happy childhood, guided by her maternal Grandfather Gilby. She was taught to observe nature and encouraged to paint by her mother, Violet.

She worked in Postal Censorship for The War Office. When Miss Fuller’s friend, Noor Inayat Khan, did not return from service abroad, the family asked Jean to enquire about her fate. The startling truth was that Noor had been the first female wireless operator to be flown into occupied France. Miss Fuller travelled to Paris – alone – in 1950 to interview one of Noor’s captors, shortly after his release from prison.

Jean Overton Fuller with her mother, Violet

Aged two, with her mother

The great love of her life was her friend and antiquarian bookselling business partner, Timothy d’Arch Smith. It began as a chance meeting in a bookshop. Their friendship lasted over 50 years. The poetry Miss Fuller wrote dedicated to him is particularly beautiful.

“Of one thing I am sure, where there is real affection there can never be any separation, neither by distance nor even by death itself. For the links of love are eternal.”

Jean Overton Fuller

Miss Fuller believed in reincarnation, something practically demonstrated in the planting of an acorn picked up by her Mother Violet on a visit to Kew Gardens together. Some 21 years later, the tree was replanted to live on the brow of Wymington Hill in the drought of 1983. In her book “Cats and Other Immortals”, Miss Fuller writes:

“I carried up Maxicrop in which to bathe the twigs of the oak-tree, and believed it had a new bud that was green. I have so many children, children with fur, children with feathers, children with leaves. You will outlive [my cat] Bambina, you will outlive me. But perhaps I shall find my way back to you in another incarnation. Perhaps we shall all meet again under your boughs.”

She never retired from writing biographies and poetry and set herself other challenges – learning to ride a horse and play the piano.

In 1980, after a total of 277 driving lessons, Miss Fuller passed her driving test. She immediately went out and bought a red Fiat 128 car and named it Robin. Tales of her parking are legendary. When she could no longer drive, Miss Fuller would catch the bus into Rushden – something she did up until a few months before she died, age 94.

Jean Overton Fuller With Timothy d’Arch Smith

Miss Fuller trained at RADA and spent some years touring the country in repertory theatre. She started to write and joined an elite literary circle, which included Dylan Thomas in their number. She was briefly engaged to an Oxford scholar, but her deep spiritual beliefs were something that finally divided them.

Miss Fuller was uncompromising in her forensic researches into discovering the truth. She published Noor’s biography as well as some controversial books challenging The War Office’s official version of events. Her actions demonstrate her character as a deeply loyal person.

She wrote literary biographies of Shelley, Bacon and Swinburne, esoteric biographies, including "Krishnamurti and the Wind" and poetry.

Jean Overton Fuller wearing her pearls

Wearing her pearls

With Timothy d’Arch Smith

Jean Overton Fuller with the oak tree

With the oak tree

FAMILIAR by Dawn Tebbutt

Jean Overton Fuller (1915-2009), friend and biographer of Noor Inayat Khan (1914-1944). Miss Fuller was the author of many controversial books questioning the facts about the Special Operations Executive.

She wrote other biographies, her own autobiography “Driven To It” and poetry.

She was an actress, a painter and a mystic.

W E L C O M E

Website arranged and compiled by Susan Waters

Susan Waters at the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial

Acknowledgements

Timothy d’Arch Smith

Janice Balchin

David, John and Jonathan Bancroft

Shrabani Basu

BBC Radio Northampton

Dr Roderick Bailey

Sally Bainbridge

Agnès Brown

Marie-Juliet Brown

Wendy Boulton

Agnes Burton

Brian Capell

Martyn Cox

Andy and Linda Crawley

Janet Flowers

Catherine Flynn

With thanks to everyone who has helped on the Jean Overton Fuller memorial to this point:

Sara G Goldy

Tony and Judith Hodgson

Tazi Husain

Ronald Hyde

Rob Marchment

Karen Newman

Rushden Research: Hearts and Soles

Northampton Telegraph

Edwin Pouncey

Stella Reynolds

Sufi Order UK

Dawn Tebbutt

The Theosophical Society

David Tonks

Christine Watson

Brenda Williamson

Margaret Woods

Susan Waters at the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial

Website designed by Northants Website Design

As a little girl

Jean Overton Fuller as a teenager

As a teenager

54 Minute Audio & Visual Presentation

Jean Overton Fuller

1915-2009


A Life in Four Voices

FAMILIAR by Dawn Tebbutt