Jean Bell Shaw Evans, writer; born December 3, 1910, died November 19, 2000

BETWEEN 1939 and 1969, Jean Evans, as Jane Shaw, wrote some 40 books for children. Their light-hearted charm has attracted several generations of readers, but her command of language gives them a wider appeal than most ''girls'

stories''. Her death in her ninetieth year comes just as a growing

number of adult collectors are discovering with delight her unique combination of humour, characterisation, and strong sense of place.

Jean Bell Shaw Patrick was born in Glasgow, the youngest child and only daughter of John Patrick and his wife, Margaret (nee Shaw). Her father, a surgeon at the royal infirmary, was a well-known figure on the Glasgow medical scene, and two of his four sons followed him into the profession. The family home, at 9 Newton Place, was

conveniently situated for Jean's attendance at the Park School from 1919 to 1928. In her two final years there she served as editor of the school magazine, The Park Chronicle, through which she maintained contact with her old school for much of her life.

Jean attended Glasgow University (1928-32), graduating with honours in English Literature and Language. While there, she acted as secretary and treasurer of the women's golf section, although she never won a match for them. The Patricks' holidays were spent at Blackwaterfoot, Arran, where the golf course had only 12 holes, and Jean complained she never got used to having to play the full 18 holes.

After a year studying to be a teacher at the Maria Grey Training College in London, she realised teaching was not for her. London, however, she loved and remained for a year or two at the Times Book Club before returning to Glasgow to work for Collins. Their children's editor, Jocelyn Oliver, made the offer that if she could write a book, he would see it was published, and thus launched her career with Breton Holiday in 1939.

A sequel, Highland Holiday (1942), recreates pre-war Arran, with its familiar and much-loved holiday rituals. One of the many delightful aspects about her books is their strong sense of place: Jean never wrote about anywhere she had not visited, and she possessed the happy ability to bring a place to life with a few vivid phrases. As befits an author born and raised in Glasgow, her Scottish books are all set on the west coast (Loch Lomond, Arran, and Connel Ferry) although only one short story was set in the city of her birth. However, once old enough to eschew family holidays, Jean ''made a beeline for the continent'', and Brittany, Switzerland, and Italy also serve as settings for her books.

In 1938 Jean married Robert Evans, whom she had known since childhood. Originally from Burnside, after training as an accountant, he went to London, where Jean moved after her marriage. Jean gave birth to a daughter in 1942 and a son two years later, shortly after being bombed out of her home.

Her most famous creation, Susan Lyle, made her appearance in 1952 in Susan Pulls the Strings.

This was to be followed by a further 10 books, featuring the Scot, Susan, and her long-

suffering English cousins, Charlotte, Midge, and Bill Carmichael. Midge, like many of Jean's characters, declares a strong disinclination for anything which smacks of work. In contrast, Susan possesses boundless energy and an insatiable (at times irritating) urge to improve situations. Jean's second main series began with Penny Foolish (1953) and concluded with Crooked Sixpence (1958).

In 1952 Robert was offered a job in South Africa, and Jean and her family moved to Johannesburg, where she worked for several years in a children's bookshop. Jean later described South Africa as ''a wonderful place to live if you had a thick white skin'' and her book

Venture to South Africa (1960) is an interesting study of a family's move to South Africa.

The Evanses returned to Scotland on Robert's retiral, and made their home in Arran. Robert died in 1987 and Jean remained in Arran, busy with her twin pursuits of reading and stitching, and cheered by regular visits from her son and daughter, and much-loved grand-daughter.