Noel Streatfeild published over five decades of the twentieth century, from the 1930s. Arguably all but seventeen of her sixty-four books were aimed at children. (Some books are classified both ways.) Her adult novels are notable for their depiction of women coping with definingly modern issues of earning a living and weathering society's changing attitudes to sex, divorce, and instability, and of alternatives both to the bourgeois or gentry family (the stage, the circus) and to the dominant society. Her first novel for children, Ballet Shoes, made her famous overnight by its appeal to young girls who were mad about dancing. In her later fiction for children Noel Streatfeild continued to present very young professional artists developing their skills; this favourite subject-matter is linked with an unusual capacity to take children seriously. NS also wrote plays from early in her career, and later wrote radio and television scripts from her own work, in addition to non-fiction books, anthologies, biography, and heavily fictionalised autobiography, as well as a series of pot-boiling romance novels which she did not wish to have considered as part of her oeuvre.
24 December 1895 NS was born at Frant in Sussex, the second child in a family of six (all but one of whom were girls).
September 1936 Commissioned by Mabel Carey, children's editor at J. M. Dent, NS produced the first, most famous of her children's books, Ballet Shoes. It reworks the central situation of her first adult book, The Whicharts.