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Dornford Yates was the pseudonym of the English novelist, Cecil William Mercer (7 August 1885 – 5 March 1960), whose novels and short stories, some humorous (the Berry books), some thrillers (the Chandos books), were best-sellers in the 21-year interwar period between the First and Second world wars. The pen name, Dornford Yates, first in print in 1910, resulted from combining the surnames of his grandmothers – the paternal Eliza Mary Dornford, and the maternal Harriet Yates. The Berry books are semi-autobiographical, humorous romances, often in short story form, and, in particular, feature Bertram "Berry" Pleydell ("of White Ladies, in the County of Hampshire") and his family – his wife and cousin, Daphne, her brother, Boy Pleydell (the narrator), and their cousins Jonathan "Jonah" Mansel, and his sister, Jill. Collectively, they are "Berry & Co." Although all five appear in Babes in the Wood, their precise relationships are unstated, and Berry and Daphne are referred to as second cousins as late as Jonah & Co; later stories feature a simple family tree, showing them to be first cousins descended from two brothers and a sister. "Berry & Co." capture the English upper classes of the Edwardian era, still self-assured, but affected by changing social attitudes and the decline of their fortunes. As in many of Yates’ books, grand houses, powerful motor cars, and foreign travel feature prominently in the Berry stories. In the 1950s, C.W. Mercer wrote two books of fictionalized memoirs, As Berry and I were Saying and B-Berry and I Look Back, written as conversations between Berry and his family. They contain many anecdotes about his experiences as a lawyer, but are, in the main, an elegy for a passed upper-class way of life.
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