I have been a musician and teacher of singing and piano for most of my working life, but since 2004 I have written several books and have undertaken editing and proof-reading assignments. All the books below are available at my book store at:

A Personal Memoir

A Personal Memoir

Jean Collen began her singing studies with the famous British duettists Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, in Johannesburg, when she was 17. Two years later they asked her to act as Webster’s studio accompanist when Anne – who accompanied their students – had other commitments. This was the beginning of a close friendship which lasted until their deaths. The book gives a summary of Anne and Webster’s rapid rise to fame in the UK, which is already well documented in their own autobiography entitled Duet (1951). The book’s main focus is on their lives and careers after Duet’s publication, from 1956 when they arrived in South Africa and their “third” career after they returned home to the UK in 1978. 


MARGARET A. PLEVIN 3 September 2013
What an awesome testament this book is to such a great couple. How touched they would have been if they could still have been here to read it.  The  testimonies and memories of friends of the couple I also found interesting and moving.  I was always a great fan of Anne  & Webster and this book gave me such insight into their lives and all they had achieved over the years and how many lives they had touched.  Ms. Collen is to be highly commended for this excellent, insightful book. It deserves the highest rating.”
Yours sincerely
Margaret A. Plevin
A beautifully written account of the lives of these two great singing stars of yesteryear, by someone whose life was to become intermittently interwoven throughout a long and memorable forty year period. If like me, you adore these great Artistes, then you won’t be able to put this book down! A true and sometimes ‘sad’ angle of British stardom and its pitfalls, yet a living sparkle emanates from every page. After readingthis memoir, one is left with the feeling of nostalgia and also a feeling one has known this talented married couple. Personally told by a lady whose warm and generous heart has ‘opened up’ her fondest memories, and been kind enough to share them with us. When finished reading, you will be left with a conviction that these two remarkable names: WEBSTER BOOTH and ANNE ZIEGLER should never be forgotten. The book is simply ‘unputdownable’.
Review by JOHAN GELDENHUYS, Poet, lexicographer and translator, January 4, 2008

This delightful book falls into the rare category of a personal memoir not about the person writing it but about two other people of talent.
      The upshot is two main characters brought to vivid life by the minutiae of everyday living recorded over an almost epic period of time (forty plus years) and a third character, the author, thrown into equally stark relief by her interactions with, and reflection on, them. A further factor of great importance highlighted in the book is the fact of migration, the two main characters as well as the author all being British-born and living in South Africa for a fair spell. The complex interplay of all of the above makes for a fascinating read not encountered often these days with its tales of ready-made solutions to spuriously complex problems or, in fact, fairly shallow neuroses.
      Overlying the innate complexity of the personal relationship of the three rounded characters referred to above is the many-splendoured realm of art in its guise of serious song taken to an even higher level of complexity in the spiritual sphere by the concurring of the author with Webster’s opinion their, or at least his, best work was done in the field of oratorio.
The shifting scenario, from the U K and the U S A to Johannesburg, Knysna, Somerset West, and finally back to the U K and, in particular Wales, makes for exciting reading in that the style reflects the differing emphases in great and loving detail. Following the aforegoing subtleties of shifting aspects of reality the set of memories of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, adduced at the back, add a final lustre to a loving and complex portrait of several lives in vital and vibrant interplay.
      All the foregoing aspects are made possible by a simple and direct prose style, which is one of the book’s greatest attributes, somewhat along the stylistic pleasures of Gaius Julius Caesar describing the Gallic and Roman civil wars and Blaise Pascal analysing mathematical and social structures. A salient example, chapter 16 on the 1973 East London production of The Mikado, will suffice, representing the truly complex undercurrents between professional and amateur ardours about the same production in an almost offhand mode encapsulated in a simple style of stark statement pregnant with knowing innuendo.
     Therefore, in summation, a marvellous book about a fascinating subject really intelligently written. Read it and dare to contradict the above views.

Affirmation, January 27, 2009
By Ian Harris (Czech Republic)

Amazon Verified Purchase

I have read Johan Geldenhuys’ superb review and find that I simply have no words to add to his. I certainly am not disagreeing with his verdict – to the contrary, I only wish I could have expressed my opinion of Jean Collen’s memoir half as articulately!
     Jean writes in a direct and, at the same time, very expressive style. I found that I was not able to put this book down until I had read the final page. This, surely, is the only true judgement of any writer’s craft!
I first published A Scattered Garland: Gleanings from the lives of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler in a single volume in 2008. Since then I have learnt a great deal more about Webster and Anne, so I have updated it into two volumes.
A Scattered Garland: Gleanings from the lives of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler (Volume 1) 
is a compilation of newspaper snippets, articles and criticisms, taken from a wide variety of sources, interspersed with my own comments expanding on particular events. It covers the first part of Anne and Webster’s careers from 1902 until 1956 when the couple moved to South Africa.
Webster and Anne reached the height of their fame during the war on the Variety Circuit and in several lavish musicals and films. The compilation covers Anne and Webster’s musical and theatrical ventures from Webster’s first professional engagement with D’Oyly Carte in the early nineteen-twenties to mid-1956.
Their later lives and careers are covered in Volume 2 of  The Scattered Garland... The book is 300 pages in length and is liberally illustrated. Both volumes are published as paper backs and ebooks.
Compiled and Edited by Jean Collen.

Compiled and Edited by Jean Collen.


Compiled and Edited by Jean Collen

Compiled and Edited by Jean Collen

A Scattered Garland: Gleanings from the Lives of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler (Volume 2) is a compilation of newspaper snippets, articles and criticisms, taken from a wide variety of sources, interspersed with my own comments expanding on particular events.
This second volume covers the lives and careers of Webster and Anne from the time they moved to South Africa in July of 1956 until their deaths.
It also lists engagements of Webster’s second wife, Paddy Prior, who went on the stage as a dancer, comedienne and soubrette while still in her teens. Webster and Anne went on to attain international fame, while Paddy’s career remained static. She was a competent and talented performer and was rarely out of work, but she did not progress beyond after-dinner engagements, musicals, pantomime, concert party and occasional radio and television broadcasts.
                                                                                                           The book is over 250 pages in length and is liberally illustrated.

by Pamela Davies & Jean Collen

DO YOU REMEMBER ANNE ZIEGLER & WEBSTER BOOTH? tells Pamela Davies’ fascinating story of her keen admiration of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth in the forties and early fifties. Shortly after Anne and Webster returned to the UK from South Africa in 1978, Pamela wrote to them to welcome them home again.  This letter began a regular correspondence with Anne  which led to Pam and Anne becoming good friends . 

The book includes THE BODY OF WORK OF ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH, compiled and edited by Jean Collen. Jean has listed many of their engagements on stage, screen, radio and television from 1924 to 1994. 

8 October 2010 

Pamela Davies first heard Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth singing on the radio when she was a teenage evacuee in Devon in the early nineteen-forties. She became a staunch fan of the couple, attended as many of their performances as possible, collected press cuttings and made her own notes about the shows and concerts she saw.

When Anne and Webster returned from South Africa in 1978 she wrote to them to welcome them home. Much to her surprise, not only did Anne reply to her letter, but began a regular correspondence with her. After Webster’s death in 1984, Pam and her late husband, Walter took Anne out for lunch whenever they were in North Wales, and they became good friends.

This is an interesting account of Pam’s association with them over the years, first as a fan, and later as a friend. By no means is this an uncritical account by a starry-eyed fan, but tells of the couple’s loss of popularity after the war, leading to their decision to settle in South Africa from 1956 to 1978.

I can thoroughly recommend this fascinating and thoughtfully written book to those who are interested in the lives and careers of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.

Excerpts from "Gramophone" & Discography

Compiled by Jean Collen

Webster Booth & Anne Ziegler: Excerpts from Gramophone & Discography

This volume contains criticism & articles about recordings made by Webster Booth & Anne Ziegler from Gramophone (1929 to the present day). The book includes a discography of their solo and duet recordings and some of their surviving radio broadcasts.

Webster Booth & Anne Ziegler: Excerpts from Gramophone and Discography (Ebook)

Webster Booth & Anne Ziegler: Excerpts from "Gramophone" and Discography"

My books are available  at http:/

A novel by Jean Collen

Jean Collen. Photo: Errol Collen

I wrote a first draft of my novel, I Can’t Forget You in 1977 and only recently took it out of a drawer, edited it and published it on Lulu in 2010. In 2010 I also published a volume of short stories. These books are available at
If you live in South Africa you may order ring-bound copies of these books from me at a much cheaper postal rate. Please contact me on the form below.
Derek Bailey is one of Britain’s finest tenors. He never forgets Elspeth McPhail, the young Scottish house-keeper who worked for him when he was starting his career in the thirties. Although he becomes famous and successful his personal life is far from fulfilling.
This novel covers Derek’s professional and personal life over a span of forty years including his two unsatisfactory marriages and his five-year affair with a girl young enough to be his grand-daughter.
Aug. 21, 2010 Review by Pearl Harris, proof reader, editor, translator and writer, based in the Czech Republic:

     Once I started reading Jean Collen’s romantic novel, I could not put it down.
    I soon became involved in the emotions and events of the main characters’ lives.
      Derek Bailey attracts females and trouble wherever he goes, due to his charisma and talent. How the women in his life deal with subsequent events must touch a chord in the heart of every female reader who has ever fallen prey to the charms of a philanderer.
  The writing style is flowing and the dialogue authentic. Place descriptions set the scene firmly in 20th-century Britain. I particularly enjoyed the Scottish dialect (the author having been born in Scotland, this too is genuine!) and the descriptions of daily life in London.
      This is no run-of-the-mill romantic novel. Due to the author’s musical knowledge, “I can’t forget you” has a depth and authenticity lacking in most novels of this genre.
      You will not want to put this book down before discovering what the final outcome of the hero’s romantic entanglements is to be. 
A collection of short stories

by Jean Collen

Although the collection of fifteen short stories is fictional, it reflects my life experiences, as I have always been told to “write about what you know”. Thus there are stories about singers and accompanists, teachers and pupils, and older people trying to adjust to inevitable changes in their lives. Settings are South African or British, and stories take place onboard ship, in schools, homes, studios or theatres. Several stories are loosely based on particular incidents in my life, but are still fiction rather than fact, such as Dux ScholarWise Words in the ChippyMichelle, By Appointment, and The Song is Ended.  Several stories in this book have short previews on this site. I hope the previews will interest you enough to consider buying my book.

REVIEW   By mjpotenza Any fan of short stories will enjoy this selection of entertaining tales by Jean Collen. The author presents women’s viewpoints, emotions, and experiences accurately and uniquely. The women characters are interesting, complex, and sympathetic (the men are mostly cads). One wonders how much is autobiographical. The writing is descriptive and precise. The style flows nicely, making for easy and pleasant reading. “The Wedding Singer”, “Miss Stratton Disappears”, and “The Sunset Gleams”, to name a few, all have the right combination of humour and sadness. In short, these well written stories are very enjoyable. 

Review by Pearl Harris, proof reader, writer, editor and translator:

Pearl Harris and Vanya. Mid-winter in the Czech Republic. Photo: Ian Harris

Each short story in this collection is refreshingly different and will touch a chord in the heart of most female readers. All the characters are masterfully and realistically portrayed. Many of the incidents depicted are those which affect all women at various times in their lives and with which the reader can readily empathise. Some bring a chuckle and a feeling of optimism, others a feeling of sadness. All left a lasting impression on me. Jean Collen’s voice is a charming mix, evidence of her Scottish, South African and musical roots. These stories particularly appeal to me as an expatriate South African, as many of them richly evoke the South African lifestyle. However, all are timeless in their own right and certainly worth reading by both women and men, whatever their nationality.

JUST THE ECHO OF A SIGH, the first novel in the Malcolm Craig trilogy, has strong leanings to a Roman à clef (a novel about real life, overlaid with a façade of fiction). It was written during November 2011 for NaNoWriMo, and traces the life and career of singing luminary, Malcolm Craig. He is a great tenor and has great success in his professional career, but his private life is far from tranquil. The book traces the course of his life, his career and his relationships from the 1920s to the beginning of World War Two.


Second novel in Malcolm Craig trilogy

Second novel in Malcolm Craig trilogy

FAINT HARMONY is the second novel in Roman à  clef trilogy about Malcolm Craig, a great British tenor. This book covers his life from the outbreak of World War Two until 1956 when he was at the zenith of his singing career. His rise to fame as a singer is smooth, but his private life is increasingly turbulent. The first book of the series is entitled Just the Echo of a Sigh and covers his early life to 1939.

This is Jean Collen’s third novel. She has also written a volume of short stories and several non-fiction books about the lives and careers of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler. All her books have a musical theme as she is a classical pianist and singer, and taught singing and piano until her retirement at the end of 2010. She is writing the final part of the Malcolm Craig trilogy, which will be entitled THE LONG DAY CLOSES.


Errol Collen in his study.

This is the second collection of previously published and unpublished short stories by this South African writer. The stories, works of creative fiction, are wide ranging, extending from mystery to allegory. Most of the book is in English, but there is a small amount of Afrikaans in it. There are also a few photographs that are loosely associated with some of the stories. While none of the stories has what publishers like to call “mature content”, readers with a certain degree of maturity are assumed. In order to ensure that a few of the stories do not offend any sensitive souls, the book is marked as “Mature”. Toward the end of the book is a short section of miscellaneous oddities, the kind with large areas of white on the page and not much text.

14 STORIES by Errol Collen is soon to be published on Lulu. The cover photograph was taken by Errol Collen in Reykjavik, Iceland when he was living there in the sixties.

Book soon to be published on

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Good Reads Book Reviews

The Moon And SixpenceThe Moon And Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Apparently Strickland was based on the artist Paul Gauguin, but if this was the case, there is a very loose connection between the two for this in not a novel a clef. The book held my interest while the narrator had personal contact with Strickland and his wife. Almost from the beginning of the novel, before Charles Strickland had appeared, I thought him a thoroughly reprehensible character.

Admittedly his wife was not an imaginative woman and used her established position in society to cultivate the society of writers and artists although she appeared to be devoid of any artistic talent herself. She obviously regarded her "dull" husband as nothing more than a meal-ticket and she had never encouraged his artistic inclinations. It is only after he leaves her to her own devices that she manages to pull herself together, fend for herself and look after her children without being dependent on a man any longer.

The portrait of a completely self-centred, inarticulate Strickland, who does not care about the opinion of others was well-drawn but after the narrator is no longer in personal contact with Strickland and the rest of the story of Strickland's life is related to him by a third person the story is less satisfactory. I have to admit that I did not finish the last fifty pages of the book. Although I like Maugham's work, this was not my favourite Maugham novel.

View all my reviews

Daily Motion Videos

Blogs I Follow


Writer, Editor, Proof-reader, Musician

Webster Booth-Anne Ziegler

The Lives and Careers of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler, the famous British duettists.

Kenneth More Official

The authorised website of actor Kenneth More CBE. One of Britain’s most successful stars

'ear 'ear! by Gaynor Young

Random thoughts of a happy brain damaged ex actress… Me!


An American in Quirky Johannesburg

From Mage Mind

When a mage is sharing what's on his mind. Business, Motivation, Positive life, Success, Marketing and Good Ideas.

Just a Jozi Girl

I walk the streets camera in hand, to discover my city, suburb by suburb.


my creative adventure


handwork, writing, life, music, books

Semi-Partisan Politics

A semi-biased commentary on British and American politics, culture and current affairs

Music Hall Alice

All things Music Hall...

Glasgow Dog Training By Dog Behaviourist John McGuigan

Promoting non aversive dog training & puppy training classes

Post a Book

We post stories. You enjoy them.

Footlight Notes

Celebrities of popular entertainment, 1850s - 1920s


Just another site


Current & Breaking News | National & World Updates

Save our iMfolozi Wilderness

HELP SAVE the iMfolozi Wilderness Area by saying NO to the Fuleni Coal Mine and YES to keeping Wilderness Areas sacred.

%d bloggers like this: