Monica Edwards was born Monica le Doux Newton and, as a child, her family moved to Rye Harbour, where her father, the Rev. Harry, became vicar and officiated at the funeral after the 1928 lifeboat disaster. The young Monica used to climb down the drainpipe at nights to spend time with the fishermen, who are affectionately portrayed in her books. In 1933 she married William (Bill) Edwards, who lived in Rye but spent most of the summers in a fishing hut on Camber Sands. Later they moved to Surrey, where her life on Punchbowl Farm was the subject of autobiographical books which were serialised on the radio, within magazines and was also the subject of television programmes.
She is probably more famous, however, for her two prize-winning series of children’s books, one of which is set in Surrey and the other in Rye Harbour and the surrounding area. The books were delightfully illustrated by Geoffrey Whittam and on visiting Rye Harbour, the vicarage, the pub, the castle, the Martello Tower and other places, all are exactly as they appear in the books. The books were written during the late forties to the late sixties, are very collectable and seem to have stood the test of time considerably. Monica Edwards’ books would be popular with today’s children, featuring subjects which are particularly topical, such as a concern for the environment and animal welfare. Cargo of Horses is about rescuing horses bound for illegal slaughter on the continent and Dolphin Summer is about preventing a wild dolphin from being captured and put into a sea life show. Smuggling also features prominently and the problems faced by the local fishermen. Local place names have been changed, but Rye Harbour, Rye, Winchelsea, Romney Marsh and other places in the area are very recognisable.
Sadly Monica Edwards passed away last year (1998), but she will always be remembered in the hearts of those who read her books, giving so much pleasure to both adults and children alike.