Jean Overton Fuller
1915 – 2009
W R I T E R -
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 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.
In April 1949, the death of her friend, Noor Inayat Khan, was confirmed by a posthumous George Cross. Despite official warnings, in August 1949 Jean travelled around France to make further enquiries. She interviewed members of the SOE network and visited Avenue Foch. In 1950, Miss Fuller travelled to Germany to interview Noor’s arresting officer and the ex-Governor of Pforzheim Prison, where Noor had been kept in solitary confinement before her death in Dachau Prison.
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-
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.
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.
In 1952, Miss Fuller published Noor’s biography, Madeleine and later some controversial books challenging The War Office’s official version of events. There were also literary biographies of Shelley, Bacon and Swinburne, esoteric biographies, including Krishnamurti and the Wind and poetry.
Wearing her pearls
With Timothy d’Arch Smith
With the oak tree
FAMILIAR by Dawn Tebbutt
Jean Overton Fuller (1915-
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
Timothy d’Arch Smith
David, John and Jonathan Bancroft
BBC Radio Northampton
Dr Roderick Bailey
Andy and Linda CrawleyCatherine Flynn
With thanks to everyone who has helped on the Jean Overton Fuller memorial to this point:
Sara G Goldy
Tony and Judith Hodgson
Rushden Research: Hearts and Soles
Sufi Order UK
The Theosophical Society
Susan Waters at the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial
As a little girl
As a teenager
54 Minute Audio & Visual Presentation
Jean Overton Fuller
A Life in Four Voices