Temple Lane

1899-1978 [pseud. of Mary Isabel Leslie; also wrote as Jean Herbert]; dg. Rev. J. M. Leslie, later Dean of Lismore; b. Dublin, raised in in Co. Tipperary; ed. Sherbourne Girls’ School, and TCD; winner of Large Gold Medal, 1922; completed a PhD.; wrote poetry from 1937; enjoyed wartime success with Friday’s Well (1943), the story of a Irish girl and a German spy masquerading as an American flier; also wrote other novels [as] Jean Herbert for Mills & Boon; poet and novelist, with successful titles including Full Tide (1923), and Friday’s Well (1943) - which was successfully adapted for the stage by Frank Carney (A Bolt from the Blue, 1950); contrib. to Irish Writing (ed., David Marcus for the Irish Press) during 1952. IF2 DIL ATT

  • Burnt Bridges (London: John Long 1925; pop. edn. 1926).
  • No Just Cause (London: John Long 1925), pop. edn. 1926.
  • Defiance (London: John Long 1926).
  • Second Sight (London: John Long 1926).
  • Watch the Wall (London: John Long 1927).
  • The Band of Orion (London: Jarrolds [1928]).
  • The Little Wood (London: Jarrolds [1930]).
  • Blind Wedding (London: Jarrolds [1931]).
  • Sinner Anthony (London: Jarrolds [1933]).
  • The Trains Go South (London: Jarrolds [1938]), foreword by Lynn Doyle.
  • Battle of the Warrior (London: Jarrolds [1940]).
  • House of My Pilgrimage (Dublin: Talbot Press; London: Frederick Muller 1941).
  • Friday’s Well (Dublin: Talbot 1943).
  • Come Back! (Dublin: Talbot 1945).
  • My Bonny’s Away (Dublin: Talbot 1947).
As Jean Herbert

Dangerous Valley (London: Mills & Boon 1956).

  • Fisherman’s Wake (Dublin & Cork: Talbot, n.d.), 47pp., and Do. [another edn.] (London: Longmans [1940]); Curlews (Dublin: Talbot 1945), 57pp.

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Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction [Pt. I] (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), identifies Temple Lane as the pen-name of Mary Isabel Leslie (1899-1975) [chk]; b. Dublin, dg. Dean of Lismore; ed. Shelbourne Sch. and TCD; poet and novelist, also light novels as Jean Herbert.

Desmond Clarke, Ireland in Fiction [Pt II] (Cork: Royal Carbery 1985), lists Blind Wedding (1931), Big House, divorce, religious differences, travel; The Little Wood (1930) [tragic love-life of homesick girl]; Battle of the Warrior [Big House, Irish civil War and class distinction]; House of Pilgrimage (1941) [a love story involving two ‘good’ families, the one the evicted and the other the evicters of older days]; Friday’s Well (1943) [Big House, love and tragedy]; Come Back (1945) [Big House, marriage of convenience, happy ending]; My Bonny’s Away (1947) [romance of French girl in Ireland]; The Trains Go South, with foreword by Lynn Doyle (1938) [a tale of filial devotion treated with ‘shrewdness ... understanding ... and real sensitivity so characteristic of the writer’, acc. Clarke].

Belfast Central Public Library holds Come Back (1945); Friday’s Well; House of My Pilgramage (1945); My Bonny’s Away (1947); The Trains Go South (n.d.). alsom under M. Leslie, Child’s Book of Verse (1910); Girlhood in the Pacific (1940).

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Friday’s Well (1943)- the war-time best-seller in which a susceptible rural Irish teenage girl falls in love with an airman purporting to be an American who has landed in Ireland but proving to be a fraud - is possibly based on the story of Max Wolfe, an American whose Spitfire crashed in Donegal and who was imprisoned in the Curragh, later escaped, and returned to the Curragh on the specific instructions of Winston Churchill. See details:

An exhibition proudly showing the only excavated remains of a WW2 Spitfire anywhere in Ireland was launched by Derry City Council’s Heritage and Museum Service at the Workhouse Museum today, 01 December. The Mk IIa Spitfire, was abandoned by its American Pilot Officer Roland ‘Bud’ Wolfe, who parachuted to safety, on 30 November 1941 when it developed engine trouble. The pilotless aircraft proceeded to dive at high speed and bury itself into a remote mountain bog near Gleneely in Co Donegal. The spitfire was found by aviation enthusiast and Claudy resident Jonny McNee in January 2011 who was searching for it as part of a forthcoming BBC NI series entitled Dig WW2. The subsequent excavation in June 2011 was the first licensed recovery of a WW2 aircraft to be undertaken in Ireland and involved a large and specialised team. The aircraft was tremendously well preserved in 30ft of peat and mud and many iconic pieces were recovered. Derry City Council will host an exhibition allowing the public to view many of the excavated items. The Mayor, Alderman Maurice Devenney said he was particularly delighted that the event would be attended by the pilot’s two daughters Betty Wolfe and Barbara Kucharczyk and 12 other family and friends who travelled from the US. Speaking about the significance of the exhibition, the Mayor said he was delighted Derry City Council was able to present the artefacts from the excavation at the Workhouse Museum.

‘This is a fascinating story and of interest to people across the island of Ireland who will want to travel to our city to view the artefacts and learn about this extraordinary project. The story has many angles to it. The aircraft diving into the bog, the pilot being apprehended near the crash site in Donegal and interned in the Curragh by the Irish Army before escaping from neutral Ireland and making his way back to his base at Eglinton, before incredibly being sent back to the Curragh Camp on Churchill’s orders! The City is very appreciative of a significant donation from businessman W Galen Weston in Toronto to assist with the exhibition. Significantly, it was his father Garfield Weston who donated this Spitfire and others to the RAF during the Battle of Britain. I am particularly delighted that the family and their friends of Flying Officer Roland ‘Bud’ Wolfe are here for the exhibition launch and to celebrate this life and years of service with both the RAF and US Air Force.” (See Derry city Council web-site - online; accessed 06.03.2014.)

Remarks: In the novel, the girl’s rescue from the rogue is effected by her sister - generally conveying a sense of a stable and idyllic Irish family faced with the temptations and misprisions of a wicked wider world in the de Valera era [BS; from memory of the novel].

A Secret Scripture?: Sebastian Barry’s 2008 novel of that title involves an affair between the protagonist Rose and a wartime airman whom she finds hanging from a tree in his parachute after his plane has crashed. He turns out to be Michael McNulty, a pro-British Protestant Irishman with whom he has had a brief affair. Now she conceives a child with him which is removed by the clergy while she herself is cast forth as a “nymphomaniac”. This narrative of a downed RAF flier clearly resembles the plot of Friday’s Well in Lane’s novel who masquerades as an American but turns out to be a German spy. (See more under Barry - supra.)