Rosamunde Pilcher was born Rosamunde Scott on 22 September 1924 in Lelant, Cornwall. She grew up in Cornwall and attended the School of St. Clare in Penzance. Later she moved to Wales to attend Howell’s School Llandaff.
On 7 December 1946, she married Graham Hope Pilcher. They moved to Dundee in Scotland where they had two daughters and two sons. Her son, Robin Pilcher, is also a novelist.
Rosamunde began writing when she was seven and published her first short story when she was 18. In 1949 she started her novel writing career with Mills and Boon, under the pen name Jane Fraser. She didn’t start writing under her own name until 1955. Jane Fraser wrote 10 novels, the last of which was The Keeper’s House in 1963. Thereafter Rosamunde Pilcher only wrote under her real name.
The Shell Seekers became her breakthrough novel in 1987, selling around ten million copies worldwide. In 1989 Angela Lansbury starred in the television adaptation of this family Saga set in Cornwall.
In 1993 The Day of the Storm was her first book to become a television film by German national television station ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen). ZDF has since produced more than a hundred television films of her stories and they are among the most popular programmes on ZDF.
Coming Home (1995) won the 1996 Romantic Novel of the Year Award from the Romantic Novelists’ Association. In 1998 Yorkshire Television broadcast a two-part television adaptation starring Keira Knightley, Emily Mortimer, Peter O’Toole, Joanna Lumley, Penelope Keith, David McCallum, Paul Bettany, Patrick Ryecart and Susan Hampshire, among others.
Corine Literature Prize awarded Winter Solstice (2000) the 2001 Weltbild Readers’ Prize. This german literature prize is awarded to German and international “authors for excellent literary achievements and their recognition by the public.”
In her lifetime, Rosamunde sold over 60 million copies of her novels worldwide.
Rosamunde Pilcher retired from writing in 2000. In 2002 she was given the British Tourism Award for the positive effect the books and the adaptations have had on Cornish tourism. In the same year, the Queen awarded her an OBE.
Rosamunde Pilcher died, at age 94, on 6 February 2019. Romance writer Katie Fforde described Pilcher to be “groundbreaking as she was the first to bring family sagas to the wider public”. Felicity Bryan’s obituary for The Guardian stated that Pilcher raised the romance genre to “an altogether higher, wittier level” made more prosaic than romantic by Pilcher’s “grittiness and fearless observation.”
16th Century mansion, Prideaux Place, near Padstow, is one of the many Cornish film locations for Rosamunde Pilcher’s television films.