Nine Betts Lane

A NEW book may have solved the mystery surrounding a family pet that disappeared in Southampton almost 60 years ago.

Nine Betts Lane is a semi-autobiographical work by Totton author Eileen de Lisle, who lived in Southampton during the Second World War.

Ena Butler with Chum It describes how US servicemen gave her family a dog called Skip just before they left to take part in the D-Day landings.

A twist of fate resulted in the book being read by a woman whose elderly mother once owned an animal of the same name.

Ena Butler, 78, of Bitterne, Southampton, was heartbroken when her pet - a birthday present -suddenly disappeared during the build-up to the Normandy invasion.

Now Eileen and Ena are convinced the two Skips were one and the same.

Ena's dog is known to have visited US ships that were moored off Woolston and may have been adopted by some of the crewmen.

She said: "I was 20 when Skip went missing in 1944, just before the Americans left for France. I was heartbroken when he disappeared and always wondered what happened to him. I can still see him now - he was a little sweetheart."

Skip's disappearance looked set to remain a mystery until Ena's daughter, Janet Hart, also of Bitterne, was loaned a copy of Nine Betts Lane. Janet said: "When I got to page 198 and read about a dog called Skip, all the hairs came up on the back of my neck. I rang mum and also got in touch with the author."

Eileen said her grandfather went for a drink with US servicemen and returned home with a dog they were unable to take to France. "It's got to be the same dog that had belonged to Ena," she said.

A SAGA of family life in Southampton has gone on the bookshelves in the south.

De Lisle family saga

Two years ago, Eileen de Lisle from Totton turned to her family's history and heritage in writing her first novel, Nine Betts Lane.

That centred on her family's haunted home in Betts Lane, now known as Avenue Road and spanned the era from 1900 to 1962.

Using the family name of Preston for the characters, she has now written a sequel entitled Inherited Fear which takes the story on to the year 2000.

"The stories are set in Southampton and Southern Ireland," said Eileen, whose mother's cousin was killed by the 'Black and Tans' in a case of mistaken identity.

Her latest novel also goes into the IRA activity in Southampton. It is unlikely to be the last and she already has a third book in mind.

Inherited Fear

The follow-up to Nine Betts Lane

Born, educated, and working in the Totton arid Southampton area, Eileen Long's first novel "Nine Betts Lane" published last year - a saga which, although fictional, was based on actual family events — has proved a huge success, with the added satisfaction of being produced in large print and on audio tapes for the handicapped. That novel began in her grandmother's time, 1900, and ended wi|h her tragic death in 1962. Now comes the sequel "Inherited Fear", which takes the reader up to the year 2000.

The two books are based in Southampton and Southern Ireland, and revolve around the haunted house in Betts Lane were Eileen was born, still in existence but under another name. In "Inherited Fear" all is revealed, after an exorcism, why that house was haunted for over a century. As a child, Eileen gained much family history from her grandmother and both parents, as well as those sayings of the times that are now no longer in use. Certain members of the family still seemed plagued by bad luck as adultery, suicide and murder blighted their lives. Who was the ghost, and what did it want?

This is another gripping tale by Eileen, a follow-up to her initial effort which already is also available in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Publishers are again Beagle Publications of Totton (ISBN 0-9541037-0-X), and the 260-page soft back is offered at £8.99.

Customer review from

Intriguing and captivating.

I don't normally read fiction, but actually brought the copy, signed, from the author herself. I began on a Sunday morning and didn't put the book down until it was finished. Eileen wrote a good story based on facts which throws the reader into the life of the characters. With 2 families blending together eventually, it tells of turn of the century house and its happenings whilst also telling of an Irish family and their trials and tribulations. It was a learning curve about the IRA and the Black and Tans and taught me so much more about how the conflict affected people. The coming together of the two large families was captivating to the point that I forgot to eat dinner! I just had to read what was going to happen next. For those who only read factual stuff like I thought I did, it is a truely good first book to take you on a fiction world stepping stone. I am eagerly awaiting the next book...

De Lisle of Write

Totton resident Eileen de Lisle has recently had her first book published Nine Belts Lane, a novel, with about eighty percent based on true events that happened to the writer's family.

The story covers two families, one English, one Irish, and their eventual coming together, and takes place over the years from 1900 up to 1962. It deals with psychic happenings, particularly in relation to the house that gives the story its title, and also gives the reader an insight into the troubles in Southern Ireland and the harsh treatments handed out by the Black and Tans in their war against the IRA.

A Salisbury-based Internet reviewer says, "I don't normally read fiction, but actually bought the copy, signed, from the author herself. I began on Sunday morning and didn't put the book down until it was finished." She concludes, "For those who only read factual stuff like I thought I did, it is a truly good first book to take you on a fiction world stepping stone. I am eagerly awaiting the next book..."

Eileen de Lisle says, "Nine Belts Lane was my first novel. I wanted to write this book for over twenty years and never had time untiM decided to give up work at the age of 56. The book took seven months to write."

Eileen is currently writing the sequel, Inherited Fear, which commences in 1962 and ends in 2000. This is expected to be available in a few months time.

Nine Betts Lane is available at Watersone's Book Shops, WH. Smiths in Southampton and Quakers in Lymington, or direct from the publishers: cheque to Beagle Publications at 17 Brackley Way, Totton, Hampshire, SO40 3HP, UK (Tel: 02380428791), for the price of '£899, which includes postage.

On 3rd and 4tn November, Eileen will be at the Holiday Inn, Southampton for book signings.

Author goes against type

A HAMPSHIRE author has just had her latest murder mystery novel published.

Eileen Long, who writes under her maiden name of Eileen de Lisle, has taken a change in direction from the family sagas of her first two books to write Blood on God's Carpet.

The crime fiction novel has already attracted the interest of a Bristol production company interested in the film rights.

Mrs Long, 64, said: "I started out going to do something on stalking because a couple of my friends had been stalked, but as I started to write, it seemed to become a serial killing story. "I've heard authors say the characters take over and thought it was silly. Now it's happened to me."

It took Mrs Long, who lives in Tottoij, eight months to finish the novel.

She said: "I never thought I would be able to write a murder novel and never plan what I am going to write. "I just type away at the computer and become intrigued by the characters."

Mrs Long, a former secretary and PA, has printed 1,000 copies of the novel through Beagle Publications, which she set up.

- The book is on sale at Chapter One Book Shop in High Street, Hythe, and other bookshops locally.

Haunting history no longer a mystery

Ghost Tales

Haunting history no longer a mystery

By Kay Cooper

SOMEWHERE in Southampton there’s a haunted house.

Its owners probably do not even know an exorcism bottled up the goggle-eyed drunken phantom in a checked waistcoat who used to slam doors and push children down the stairs.

Only Eileen Long from Totton knows the secret location, and her lips are sealed – except that, under her pen name of Eileen de Lisle, she has just published a novel where she reveals the ghost’s sordid story and why he could never rest in the hereafter.

Inherited Fear is the second novel from the former typist and bookkeeper and mother of two grown sons.

Eileen was born in the haunted house during the Second World War and her spooky experiences as a child growing up in a home with an invisible “tenant”, plus dramatic events within her family, spurred her towards a writing career.

She took her future into her own hands three years ago, quitting her secretarial job and starting her own publishing company with her son Paul, also from Totton.

Now their firm, Beagle Publications, has two books to its credit. Eileen’s first novel Nine Betts Lane came out in 2000 at a cost of £3,300 and has been snapped up by international publishers Ulverscroft and talking-book firm Isis, as well as being on the “most-popular” list in Southampton’s libraries.

The new story Inherited Fear is, like its predecessor, a work of “faction” – fiction woven with a high percentage of fact from Eileen’s own history.

The author said: “my first book begins in 1900 and ends in 1962 with the tragic death of my grandmother Florence in a house fire. The latest novel is a sequel ending in the year 2000. Combined, they cover the whole of the last century and, as far as I know, I’m the only writer to have done this.

Both novels are available, priced £8.99, from Beagle Publications at PO Box 197, Totton, from major bookshops and via, as well as at local libraries.

[Transcript & Photo: Daily Echo]