Born Denise Naomi Klein on 1 February 1897 in London, England, was the daughter of Kathleen Clarice Louise Cornwell, who was also a prolific author who wrote under several names, and of her first husband, Herman Klein, who was a professor of music and journalist. Of Russian ancestry, he had been born in Norwich in 1856. Her mother Kathleen Clarice had been born in Melbourne, Australia, on 11 March 1872 and was the daughter of George Cornwell and his wife Jemima Ridpath, married in 1850. George Cornwell was a railway guard who became a successful gold prospector in Australia, operating several mines, and a notable building contractor. His eldest daughter, Alice Cornwell, born 1852, was spectacularly rich by the 1890s, returning to England and buying the Sunday Times newspaper.
Her parents had married in 1890. He had a daughter Sibyl Klein, from a previous marriage, and they had two sons: Adrian Bernard Klein (1892–1969) and Daryl Klein (1894), before the birth of Denise Naomi Klein (1897–1985). The childhood of Denise, Adrian and Daryl Klein was far from settled. Kathleen Klein began an affair with a Worcestershire Regiment officer called Herbert Berkeley Dealtry, who was much younger than her husband and herself, and when Hermann Klein became aware of it he filed a petition for divorce, which was granted in December 1901. Kathleen then married Dealtry.
In 1905, the Dealtrys had some serious troubles in connection with the promotion of dog shows, which they had been drawn into by Kathleen's sister Alice Stennard Robinson, a leading member of the Ladies' Kennel Association (founded 1904) and the National Cat Club. Somehow, the money from the first dog show went missing, and the Dealtrys held a second show to pay the prize money owed on the first. After the second show, prize winners sued Dealtry, which led to his being declared bankrupt. The family then lived in America for a few years but, by 1908, Kathleen (or 'Kit') Dealtry was back in London, writing Christian novels. In 1918 she married for a third time and wrote at least three books as Mrs Sydney Groom.
Her eldest brother Adrian Bernard Klein also became a writer, he was an artist and wrote books on photography and cinematography. After serving as an officer in the British Army, he became a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and changed his name to Adrian Cornwell-Clyne.
Denise Naomi Klein married firstly Arthur Robins in 1918, a corn broker on the Baltic Exchange, they had three daughters, Eve Louise, Patricia Robins (aka Claire Lorrimer) who became another best-selling author, and Anne Eleanor. On 1938, the marriage ended in divorce, after Robins met O'Neill Pearson in Egypt, they married in 1939. However, like Agatha Christie, Robins continued to publish most of her books under her first married name.
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“Wherever the State touches the personal life of the infant, the child, the youth, or the aged, helpless, defective in mind, body or moral nature, there the State enters womans peculiar sphere, her sphere of motherly succor and training, her sphere of sympathetic and self-sacrificing ministration to individual lives.”
—Anna Garlin Spencer (18511931)