Elise Dallemagne-Cookson (1933-2005)
Cherry Valley, NY

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Biography and Writings

Born Elise Camille Cookson in Tarrytown, New York, 1933, Elise grew up in neighboring Peekskill, New York. Her varied career, spanning five decades, has taken her to many countries on four continents, including the South Seas before the advent of jet travel. She practiced a wide variety of professions ranging from independent film producer in Hollywood to farmer in Africa and Argentina to Wall Street broker and public school foreign language teacher, until finally, at age sixty-one, she was able to begin her writing career.

Beginning in Europe in 1955, she was hired as a publicist for United Artists. From there she went on to work in Hollywood, New York, and on location for major motion pictures.

After Hollywood, she joined the U.S. Foreign Service and was assigned to the Belgian Congo, where she met her explorer husband, Pierre Dallemagne. She managed his family's ranch and coffee plantation until the Congo's independence forced them out. Her first book, The Bearded Lion Who Roars, a memoir published in 1995, recounts what happened during those historic times.


From the Congo she and her husband immigrated to Argentina, where they established a dairy farm. Her first novel, The Ombu Tree, published in 1998, is based on her experiences farming in that country. It is the tale of an American woman pioneer on the pampas, confronting revolution and frontier justice as she attempts to wrest a successful farm out of a haunted estancia surrounded by a network of Nazi neighbors.

In 2009, this book was translated into French by Candie Boni and published by Lulu. The book titled L'ombú can be purchased from Lulu Marketplace or from Amazon.com.

The Filmmaker, her second novel published in 2000, is the tragic love story about an Academy-Award-winning filmmakerwho became a victim of "McCarthyism" and subsequently "named names" of former Communist Party colleagues before the House Un-American Activities Committee.


With The Red-Eye Fever - Adventures in the Belgian Congo published in 2002, Elise recounts tales of her adventures hunting crocodiles in the Congo before it became independent in 1960 and introduces us to some extraordinary people she met at that time.



Her next book titled Marie Grandin - Sent By The King is a historical novel. Released in 2003, it is loosely based on the life of her ancestor who arrived in Quebec in 1670 to participate in Louis XIV's program to provide wives for the men of his Canadian colony. Marie Grandin was one of those famous pioneering women who later became known as the Filles du Roi - Daughters of the King. This book can be purchased at the Xlibris Online Bookstore.


The Marie Grandin book has been translated into French by Réal Beaudet and is distributed by the Beaudet Family Association under the title of Marie Grandin, Fille du Ro. It was released in August 2005 during an annual meeting of the association. To obtain your copy of the book, contact Real Beaudet, 172 Rue Saint-Jean Baptiste. Leclercville, QC GOS 2KO or at 819-292-2374. The cost (including postage) is $30.95 CAN.

A review of this book is available (French).

Two of her books, The Bearded Lion Who Roars and The Ombu Tree are available on tape from the Library of Congress, Talking Books Department, Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

Elise was also a contributor to Roots - Racines - Késsinnimek, the online magazine edited by Norm Leveillée.

  • Marie Grandin "Sent by the King" - July 2004
  • Marie Grandin "Sent by the King" - August 2004

You can also find out more about all Dallemagne-Cookson's books at amazon.com.

Elise passed away on November 30, 2005. At the time of her death, she was working on her sixth book - the biography of the internationally acclaimed French artist, Jean Tabaud, who died in 1996. It was to be based on his own memoir of his life in France and Germany as a prisoner of war during World War II.

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Last updated: December 19, 2009