M - O

Morely Iris

Iris Morley (Jacob)

Iris Vivienne Morley was born on the 10th May 1910 at Carshalton, Surrey, the daughter of Colonel Lyddon Charteris Morley CBE and Gladys Vivienne Charteris Braddell.

She studied at RADA and appeared in films but decided she wasn’t good enough for the stage and took to writing novels.

She married in 1929 but quickly divorced in 1934 when she married Alaric Jacob on 2nd August. Jacob would become a well-known novelist and writer but the couple were in the USA, where he was a foreign correspondent for Reuters, until the beginning of the Second World War.

She had her `The Proud Paladin’ published whilst in New York in 1936.

During the war, she wrote a trilogy of historical novels - Cry Treason (1940), We Stood For Freedom (1941) and The Mighty Years (1943) - with James Scott, the Duke of Monmouth, and William III, as central characters.

Iris accompanied Alaric to Moscow in January 1944, which greatly aided her work Soviet Ballet published in 1945.

Iris became a journalist for The Observer and the Yorkshire Post and joined the Communist Party, strongly influencing her husband; she appears in his book, `Scenes from a Bourgeois Life’, published in 1949 as Miranda.

Orwell listed both Iris and her husband on his vindictive list of people he considered politically unreliable, which he gave to a friend who was an operative for a shadowy anti-communist dirty tricks department set up by the Foreign Office.

Over the next couple of years Alaric Jacob found his employment rights for work at the BBC extremely constrained, despite the fact that he and Iris now separated. When she died in July 1953, the effective ban on him by the British state was lifted.  

Her `Nothing but Propaganda’ was published in London in 1946; it features the war-time, and includes a picture of work in a Communist Party bookshop. ` Not Without Fantasy’ followed two years later.  `The Rose and the Star’ was written in collaboration with Phyllis Manchester in 1949, whilst ` The Rack’ and `A Thousand Lives’ appeared just before Iris’ death.