Valerie Browne Lester (1939-2019) was an independent scholar, writer, and translator. She is the author of Fasten Your Seat Belts! History and Heroism in the Pan Am Cabin (1995), which is a history of Pan American told in the voices of its cabin crew; and Phiz, The Man Who Drew Dickens (2004), a biography of Hablot Knight Browne, Dickens’s principal illustrator (who was also her great-great-grandfather). Her biography of the great Italian printer Giambattista Bodoni (1710-1813) Giambattista Bodoni: His Life and His World was published by David Godine in September 2015.

In addition to her books and her translation of Alain-Fournier’s Le Grand Meaulnes (The Magnificent Meaulnes, 2009), she wrote poetry, plays, and articles, including “A Bird’s Eye View of Nepal,” for The Atlantic Monthly.

Her biography of Clarence Bicknell, Marvels: The Life of Clarence Bicknell, Botanist, Archaeologist, Artist, was published in June 2018. 

Latest Project - The West Indian, a novel - available now


The West Indian (published April 2019) is a mystery, a romance, a slice of historical fiction, a narrative of colonial life in Jamaica, and one woman’s adventures and misadventures on the island. It is also a spellbinding origin story for the mysterious Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights.

Surrounded by vivid characters and full of the detail and flavour of life in the 1700s, with its sights and sounds and natural history, The West Indian picks up pace as it races towards its shocking conclusion.

“An exotic locale, well-wrought historical details…and wonderful characters.” - Kirkus Reviews

9781733598408 - Paper - 284 pages - Historical Fiction

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