Violet Needham

Violet Needham, 1876-1967, was an author of fiction for older children. She published 19 books between 1939 and 1957, many of which fall into the Ruritania sub-genre of historical fiction. These are set in the fictitious countries of Flavonia and The Empire, perhaps loosely based on Romania and the pre-WW1 Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the old Emperor in The Black Riders certainly seems reminiscent of the aged Franz-Josef. The descriptions in The House of the Paladin seem to describe a landscape similar to that of the Danube Delta, and the mountains described in The Emerald Crown are reminiscent of Transylvania. Although her tales of Dick Fauconbois, the Stormy Petrel were written in the late thirties and forties, they don’t seem to be set quite then – the illustrations would seem to indicate a setting twenty or thirty years earlier. Again in The Black Riders, although she doesn’t go into the politics much, the background of a revolutionary movement, and spies, secret police and agents very much suggests the pre-war Balkans.

Of her books, only those most recently in print are at all easy to get hold of – these are The Black Riders, The Emerald Crown, The Woods of Windri, The House of the Paladin and the Changeling of Monte Lucio.


  • The Black Riders 1939
    The Emerald Crown 1940
    The Stormy petrel 1942
    The Horn of Merlyns 1943
    The Woods of Windri 1944
    The House of the Paladin 1945
    The Changeling of Monte Lucio 1946
    Bell of the four evangelists 1947
    The Boy in red 1948
    The Betrayer. 1950
    Pandora of Parrham Royal 1951
    The Avenue. 1952
    How many miles to Babylon? 1953
    Richard and the golden horse shoe 1954
    Adventures at Hampton Court 1954
    The Secret of the white peacock 1956
    The Great house of Estraville 1955
    Adventures at Windsor Castle 1957
    The Red rose of Ruvina 1957
  • There is a long article in Solander, which touches on her work, in particular the Ruritania sub-genre, and the Violet Needham Society is finally getting a website together.


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