|Alan Jackson in 1923, age 17|
Alan was born in 1906 in New York City. He grew up on the upper east side of Manhattan, with as many as seven servants. One of his books was named after his address, East 57th Street. Both he and his brother attended the Hill School in Pottstown, PA, and both went on to Princeton. Alan’s father died at the age of 56 in 1924, when Alan was 18, and thereafter his mother split her time between Manhattan and Paris (on Avenue Victor Hugo, between the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower). After graduating, Alan worked as a writer for Time and Fortune.
Alan married Esther Cochran of Youngstown, Ohio, in 1932. Both were 26, and at the time he was working for a publisher in Cleveland and writing for Fortune. His only child, a daughter, was born a year later.
He became associate editor of the Saturday Evening Post, a position he held from May 1939 until in the October 1942, when he left to take part in World War II. Joining the Navy, he served as a lieutenant commander in the Office of Public Information, stationed in New York. After the war he joined Paramount Pictures as Eastern story editor, a post which he held for 15 years before becoming a freelance writer in 1958.
He then became a freelancer writing articles, short stories and novels, and a review of the first book he wrote under his own name (East 57th Street) in Kirkus Reviews, noted, “This will probably never replace Wodehouse, but you can feel the hero worship.” Indeed you could, as he had already been using the pen name Rosie M. Banks for what ultimately would be four nurse romance novels; this is a pen name used in the inimitable Bertie and Jeeves stories by P.G. Wodehouse by a character who wrote torrid romances such as Only a Factory Girl and Madcap Myrtle. (The character, incidentally, was a man, which may have made the choice all the more delicious to Jackson.) It is rumored that Alan had written to Wodehouse to ask permission to use the name, and that Wodehouse, “much amused,” had agreed, but independent confirmation has not been ascertained.
Alan and Esther divorced, and he remarried Phyllis Blum in 1951. They were both 44; it was her first marriage. They moved back to East 57th Street, half a block from his childhood home. She was a powerhouse in her own right—“tough, but a lady,” she was remembered in her obituary—working as a literary agent to the likes of Ian Fleming, E. L. Doctorow, Nathaniel Benchley, Grace Paley, Studs Terkel, David Niven, and Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. He died of cancer in 1965 at age 59. “Alan Jackson was a man of wit and taste, a most enjoyable companion and a valued friend,” reported the Princeton Alumni Weekly at his death. “He is missed by all who knew him.”
Rosie M. Banks
Surgical Nurse, Rosie M. Banks, 1959, Permabooks
Settlement Nurse, Rosie M. Banks, 1959, Permabooks
Navy Nurse, Rosie M. Banks, 1960, Permabooks
Ship’s Nurse, Rosie M. Banks, 1961, Permabooks
The Breakfast Cookbook, 1960, Simon and Schuster
East 57th Street, 1961, Simon and Schuster
Perdita, Get Lost, 1964, Simon and Schuster