Crewkerne author Mary Tiffen has published her mothers’ book nearly 90 years after it was written. The story written by Gwen Steele-Perkins is described by her daughter Mary as a “tragic love story.” It is a brutal but true account of marriage to a cruel and oppressive husband, who eventually deserted Gwen. Her tragedy was that in spite of all his faults, she loved him. Central to Gwen’s story in the book Testimony to Love is a vision she had after a near death experience, following an operation in Hong Kong in 1930.
Gwen made many attempts to have her book published at the time but as Mary commented, “I don’t think the time was ripe then.” Having learned of the recent success of other books on near death experiences, Mary decided to bring out her mothers’ book. Unable to find a publisher who would take on the job, she decided to publish it herself and has already sold more copies of the book in the United States of America than in the UK. Baroness Perry, in a review of the book said: “It is social history and women’s history, depicting upper middle class life in Britain or in foreign postings in the thirties, in a world which is now utterly strange to us.”
Mary Tiffen and her late husband Brian were founder members of Crewkerne & District U3A when it began 20 years ago and Brian was chairman for three years. Due to work commitments Mary left the U3A but has recently rejoined. “Now I have a bit more time on my hands, I am looking forward to seeing what groups I might be interested in joining,” she said. Her children are also encouraging Mary to write a book about her own life. Mary, who read history at Cambridge University and did a PhD at the London School of Economics, is a former Senior Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute in London. Mary’s book Friends of Sir Robert Hart: Three Generations of Carrall Women in China, has been translated into Chinese and published in China. Marys mothers book Testimony to Love can be bought from Mary for £5 or £7 with postage. It is also available as an ebook from Amazon for £3. Mary can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org