Ethel Mary Dell (Savage) 1881–1939), novelist, was born on 2 August 1881 at 61 Hayter Road, Brixton. Her father had followed his father into the Equitable Life Assurance Company, and the family were comfortable but not affluent. The children were initially educated at home by their mother; in 1890 the family moved to Polworth Road and in 1893 Ethel and her sister Ella were sent to Streatham College for Girls, where they remained until 1898.
Ethel M. Dell originally began to write stories at school to amuse her friends, and her father had some privately printed.
Her first and best known, The Way of an Eagle, went through many refusals and redraftings before being accepted by T. Fisher Unwin for his First Novel Library in 1912. It became an immediate best-seller, and she subsequently published thirty-two more novels, eight volumes of short stories, and a book of poems, her last novel being published in the year of her death. In 1921 she met Lieutenant-Colonel Gerald Tahourdin Savage (b. 1883) of the Royal Army Service Corps, whom she married on 7 June 1922. They had no children, and she is said to have disliked them, much preferring her dogs.
(Harriet Harvey Wood)