NEW YORK, NEW YORK — Late last night, 66-year-old Eloise Thompson-Knight was found dead in her condominium in the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Cause of death was undiagnosed cirrhosis of the liver.
Acclaimed romance author, Eloise Thompson-Knight wrote under the pseudonym Ella TK. Her books spent more than fourteen years’ worth of weeks overall on the New York Times Best Seller list for mass-market paperback fiction. With three books published a year like clockwork and a hoard of fans ranging from young women to those “of a certain age,” as Eloise often referred to her older characters, her ability to rack up such an incredible statistic is not so surprising.
Eloise was born into splendor and wealth in 1949. Her mother, a well-known socialite, was one of several other New Yorkers who lived at the Plaza at the time, long before it was converted into condominiums. Eloise was known to the Plaza staff at the time, and several years ago, a spread in Vogue showed early childhood photos of Eloise, accompanied by an article in which notes and memos about Eloise the child were revealed. In response to the rather scathing article, which painted her as a spoiled brat, Eloise’s publisher issued a press release, part of which claimed that “Eloise was a neglected child. Like many children of rich and famous celebrities today, she was left to the care of an alcoholic nanny and not exposed to other children or any kind of real socializing. It is a wonder that she has grown into the fine, upstanding, generous, and talented woman that she is today. We should celebrate, not vilify, her for overcoming her early childhood experience rather than succumbing to it.”
Commenting on Twitter, the author herself wrote: “I was a spoiled child. I am a spoiled adult. I didn’t deserve it then. I work for it now. I have earned my privilege.” Although the tweet caused much controversy from both her fans and the usual array of trolls whom every female author of fame on Twitter has become familiar with, Eloise stood by it and did not back down, though she refused to be interviewed as it would take her away from her writing rituals that helped her produce such a volume of books.
In her teen years, Eloise formed an attachment with her mother’s lawyer, a man three times her age. He took her with him to famous European cities and let her loose, trusting her to be as fiercely independent in foreign cities as she was in her hotel home. She learned three languages during their trips, and remained proficient at all three — German, French, and Italian — and in her early years as an author insisted on translating her books into those languages herself.
The exact nature of the relationship between the young Eloise and the older man is unclear. Her mother, however, died unexpectedly of an overdose of pain medication she had been taking for back injuries she’d obtained falling off a galloping horse at a friendly polo match, and Eloise flew back to New York immediately to attend her funeral and deal with her estate.
It turned out that her mother had squandered most of the family money, and Eloise began to work soon after at the Plaza itself, first as a maid and later as a concierge. She wrote at night from her small apartment in Harlem, and after she’d finished eight books, she began to send them to publishers. Her success was immediate and immense. Once a publisher gave her a deal, she found an agent to advocate for her, and signed a five-book contract, which she fulfilled immediately by handing over the first five books she had already completed. Her books sold like proverbial hotcakes, and she was celebrated as the newest romance phenomenon. It was in her late 50s that she decided to move back to her childhood home and bought a condominium in the Plaza.
While Eloise Thompson-Knight may be forgotten in the course of history, it is almost certain that Ella TK will not. Her books have never gone out of print, and her death may show not only a further surge in sales, but also a release of several hardcover omnibus editions of her serialized novels, which were already in the works, apparently, according to her publishers.
Funeral details have not yet been released, but the Plaza has already received dozens of wreaths bearing the initials RIP ETK.