|Susan Howatch's otherwise "very dull and happy" childhood was marked by the death of her father in World War II. She graduated from the University of London with a law degree and spent one year as a law clerk in 1961. She moved to New York to find a new life after frustrating efforts to become published in England. She married American sculptor Joseph Howatch, with whom she had a daughter. Finding more luck with American publishers, Howatch's first novel appeared only one year after she arrived in America. After "The Dark Shore" was published in 1965, she began the first stage of her career, writing a series of gothic mysteries that are still among her most popular efforts. In 1971, Howatch came out with "Penmarric". The first of her epic sagas, "Penmarric" elevated her to a new level of celebrity, especially after the BBC successfully adapted it. She continued writing ambitious, lengthy sagas until she experienced a religious conversion and embarked on what is known as her Church of England series. These novels focus on mystical, spiritual themes, addressing such topics as faith and morality. After spending four years in Ireland, Howatch moved back to England, where she transformed her lifestyle, shunning the material success she had obtained and leading a life of minimalism and celibacy.