Hester Rowan was born and brought up in rural Northamptonshire, one of the fortunate means-tested generation whose further education was free. She went from her village school via high school to London University, where she read history. "
" She served for nine years as an education officer in the Womens Royal Air Force, then worked variously as a teacher, a clerk in a shoe factory, a civil servant and in advertising. In the 1960s she opted out of conventional work and joined her partner in running a Norfolk village store and post office, where she began writing fiction in her spare time. Hester Rowan also wrote 10 crime novels as Sheila Radley.