Penelope "Penny" Jones was born on November 24, 1946 at about seven pounds in a nursing home in Preston, Lancashire, England. She was the first child of Anthony Winn Jones, an engineer, who died at 85, and his wife Margaret Louise Groves Jones. She has a brother, Anthony, and a sister, Prudence "Pru".
She had been a keen reader from the childhood - her mother used to leave her in the children's section of their local library whilst she changed her father's library books. She was a storyteller long before she began to write romantic fiction. At the age of eight, she was creating serialised bedtime stories, featuring make-believe adventures, for her younger sister Prue, who was always the heroine. At eleven, she fell in love with Mills & Boon, and with their heroes. In those days the books could only be obtained via private lending libraries, and she quickly became a devoted fan, and was thrilled to bits when the books went on full sale, in shops and she could have them for keeps.
Penny left grammar school in Rochdale with O-Levels in English Language, English Literature and Geography. She first discovered Mills & Boon books, via a girl she worked with. She married Steve Halsall, an accountant and a "lovely man", who smoked and drank too heavily, suffered oral cancer with bravery and dignity. Her late husband bought her out of his own money at a time when he could ill afford it the small electric typewriter on which she typed her first novels. Her husband died at the beginning of 21th century.
She has earned a living as a writer since the 1970s when, as a shorthand typist, she entered a competition run by the Romantic Novelists' Association. Although she didn't win, Penny found an agent who was looking for a new Georgette Heyer. She published four regency novels as Caroline Courtney, before changing her nom de plume to Melinda Wright for threebair-hostess romps and then she wrote two thrillers as Lydia Hitchcock. Soon after that, Mills and Boon accepted her first novel for them, Falcon's Prey as Penny Jordan. However, for her present historical romance novels, she has adopted her mother's maiden-name to become Annie Groves. Almost 70m of her 167 Mills and Boon novels have been sold worldwide.
Now Penny Halsall lives in a neo-Georgian house in Nantwich, Cheshire, with her Alsatian Sheba and cat Posh. She works from home, in her kitchen, surrounded by her pets, and welcomes interruptions from her friends and family.