Vera Chapman (neé Fogarty) grew up in South Africa until the end of the First World War, when she became a student at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She was one of the first women to matriculate as a full member of Oxford University, and almost immediately scandalised the college by going for an unchaperoned walk with her fiancé. Shortly after graduating she married a clergyman and moved to Africa where he worked as a missionary.
In 1969, stung by the appropriation of Tolkien’s works by the wilder fringes of the hippie movement, she placed an advertisement in the New Statesman announcing the formation of the Tolkien Society of Great Britain. She was its secretary for six years, during which time the society expanded rapidly. In 1972 she persuaded J. R. R. Tolkien to become the society’s honorary president. In 1975 (aged 77) she wrote her first novel, The Green Knight, quickly followed by two other Arthurian novels, now published together as The Three Damosels. She also published two children’s books and several more novels, including The Wife of Bath.
She was a regular attendee at Tolkien Society events until her 90s, when her health finally started to fail her. She managed to make it to the Centenary Conference in 1992, and after that was rarely seen. She died in 1996, shortly after her 98th birthday.