Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Children's authors (Part 2 of 4)

Moving on with my updates on children’s authors, which are—it should be obvious by now—as much as anything an excuse to luxuriate in some of the lovely cover art that was used on these books, here are 15 more authors that have been added to my main list.

Of these, I seem to be most intrigued by ANTONIA FOREST, as I have already acquired a copy of her 1948 debut, Autumn Term.  At the same time, however, I acquired quite a few other books, so sadly it may have to gather dust on the “to read” shelves for a while before I get around to it, but it looks very charming.

Meanwhile, PRIMROSE CUMMING is best known for her horse stories, a genre I haven’t quite gotten excited about yet, but I noticed that she also wrote a novel called Owls Castle Farm (1942), which was in part based on her experiences as a Land Girl in World War II, and that immediately piqued my interest.

OLIVIA FITZROY’s Orders to Poach also comes out of World War II, written as it was to entertain her sisters as they were spending the war in the comparatively quiet surrounds of Inverewe, Scotland.  Several of FitzRoy’s titles have been reprinted by Fidra.

Penelope Farmer

PENELOPE FARMER just barely makes the cut to be on my list (I'm sure she's thrilled...), with her first title, a collection of fairy tales, having appeared in 1960.  She is best known today for Charlotte Sometimes (1969), and as I occasionally have a hankering for time travel stories, its tale of a girl from 1969 who travels back to 1918 may well prove irresistible.  It has been reprinted by New York Review Books.

As some of you might recall from my recent posts, I recently acquired two of Elinor Brent-Dyer’s Chalet School novels, and I have been really pleasantly surprised by them. Although they are idealized in some ways and are really quite perky and cheerful, they nevertheless contain elements of realism and strong characterization that I wasn’t entirely expecting, and I'm finding it hard not to become addicted to them, which, since there are around 60 of them, would be a significant undertaking. But along the same lines, then, I was intrigued by the description of MARY KATHLEEN HARRIS’s Gretel at St. Bride's (1941), in which the title character is a refugee from the Nazis.

And OLIVE DEHN seems to have been interesting as much for the events of her life as for her writings.  Sister of film critic Paul Edward Dehn, she was arrested and deported from Nazi Germany in the early 1930s for a satirical poem she published in Punch.  Later in life, she was deported from the Soviet Union for protesting the holding of political prisoners, and after that she and her husband bought a farm in Sussex and became trailblazers in the movement toward organic farming.  Whew!  Sadly, I haven’t so far been able to locate a photo of Dehn.

Below is the full list of new additions.  All 15 writers have already been added to the Overwhelming List.


Children's author best known for her horse books including Silver Snaffles (1937, reprinted by Fidra), Four Rode Home (1951), and No Place For Ponies (1954); Owls Castle Farm (1942) was in part based on her experiences as a Land Girl in World War II.

WINIFRED DARCH (1884-1960)

Children's author known for her girls' school stories of the 1920s and 1930s, including Jean of the Fifth (1923), Poppies and Prefects (1923), Cicely Bassett, Patrol Leader (1927), The Fifth Form Rivals (1930), Margaret Plays the Game (1931), and The School on the Cliff (1933).

OLIVE DEHN (1914–2007)
(married name Markham)

Children's author who was also a passionate activist and pacifist and, along with her husband, a trailblazing organic farmer; her works include The Basement Bogle (1935), The Nixie From Rotterdam (1937), Higgly-piggly Farm (1957), and the Caretakers series (1960-1967).

Monica Edwards

MONICA EDWARDS (1912-1998)
(née Newton)

Children's author best known for the Romney Marsh series, beginning with Wish for a Pony (1947), and the Punchbowl series, starting with No Mistaking Corker (1947); both feature adventures based around country and farm life, and are noted for their strong characterization.

PENELOPE FARMER (1939-     )
(married names Mockridge and Shorvon)

Children's writer and novelist whose career began with The China People (1960), a collection of fairy tales, Farmer is perhaps best known for Charlotte Sometimes (1969), the story of a girl who travels back in time to 1918; since the 1980s Farmer has also published several novels for adults.

(married name Goldie)

Children's author known for her animal stories and two series, the Brydon family series and the Dean family series; she has also written historical stories like The Boy with the Bronze Axe (1968) and realistic fiction like The Desperate Journey (1964), focused on an impoverished Scottish family.

OLIVIA FITZROY (1921-1969)
(married name Bates)

Children's author whose first book, Orders to Poach (1941), was written to entertain her sisters during WWII; others are Steer by the Stars (1944) and House in the Hills (1946), all of which have been reprinted by Fidra; she stopped writing after her 1956 marriage and sadly died of cancer at 48.
Antonia Forest

ANTONIA FOREST (1915-2003)
(pseudonym of Patricia Rubinstein)

Originally setting out to write for adults, Forest found success with her series of children's novels about the eight Marlow children, beginning with Autumn Term (1948); others titles include Falconer's Lure (1957), End of Term (1959), The Thuggery Affair (1965), and The Player's Boy (1970).

DOROTHY HANN (dates unknown)
(aka Mrs. A[rchie]. C[ecil]. Osborne Hann)

Prolific author of children's books, many about camping, Brownies, or with religious messages; other titles include The Torchbearer (1938), Follow My Leader (1939), Chris at Boarding School (1946), 'Horrible' Harriet (1949), Five in a Family (1951), and Rosemary the Rebel (1955).


Illustrator and author of historical fiction for children, Harnett is known for her historical accuracy and characterization; works include The Great House (1949), the Carnegie-winning The Wool-Pack (1951), The Load of Unicorn (1959), and The Writing on the Hearth (1971).


Best known for her girls' school novels beginning with Gretel at St. Bride's (1941), in which Gretel is a refugee from the Nazis, Harris also published three novels for adults—Fear at My Heart (1951), My Darling from the Lion's Mouth (1956), and Lucia Wilmot (1959).


Children's author known for her series about Ameliaranne, a Polyanna-ish girl who helps out her impoverished family, starting with Ameliaranne and the Green Umbrella (1920); later books include Dick in Command (1950), Midnight, Our Pony (1953), and Jonathan's Children (1963).
Lorna Hill
LORNA HILL (1902-1991)
(née Leatham)

Prolific author of girls' ballet stories, pony books, and other children's fiction; A Dream of Sadler's Wells (1950) and its sequels present an ideal view of ballet training, while The Vicarage Children (1961) and its sequels offer more realistic portrayals of middle class family life.

PAMELA HINKSON (1900-1982)
(aka Peter Deane)

Daughter of Katharine Tynan; children's author and novelist who wrote girls' school novels such as The Girls of Redlands (1923) and Schooldays at Meadowfield (1930) as well as adult novels like The End of All Dreams (1923) and the WWI-themed The Ladies' Road (1932).

Pamela Hinkson
KATHARINE HULL (1921-1977)
(married name Buxton)

Author of four popular children's books with Pamela Whitlock, most famously The Far-Distant Oxus (1937), written when the pair were still teenagers, about six children on their own in Exmoor; later titles were Escape to Persia (1938), Oxus in Summer (1939), and Crowns (1947).


  1. Oh Scott, these all look so delicious. I wish I'd had them to read as an impressionable young pre-adolescent. I had a few of that ilk then, which I read and reread, but they all vanished in The Great Purge of 1966.

    1. Oh, Susan, I think I've heard legends of the Great Purge of 1966. I know I lost a lot of books in the Great Purge of 2000, when I moved to San Francisco. If only space were never an issue and I could have back all the books I've gotten rid of over the years...

  2. I've just managed to track down which of the Chalet School books you have - I take it that the photo means you possess the Armada editions rather than hardbacks?

    Armada did EBD a great disservice in one sense, by random and often illogical chopping of words and sections of the books. (A great service though by keeping them in print well beyond what one might have expected their shelf-life to have been).

    Island is pretty well uncut, but Exile, which many of her followers, of which I am one, consider to be her best book, has suffered very badly so if you can possibly get hold of the hardback version I would urge you to do so and chuck the other out.....GGBP have also printed it twice in its full glory :-)

    1. Oh, thank you for letting me know this, Cestina. Someone else mentioned that the reprints of Elsie Oxenham were similarly cut. I really enjoyed both of the Brent-Dyers, but now of course I wish I had read them uncut. I've also been wondering about her non-Chalet School books too--the cover of GGB's Maids of La Rochelle seems to be calling my name...

  3. I like the La Rochelle series and there is a great deal of overlap with the later books in the Chalet School series, with La Rochelle offspring playing an important role in the CS.

    You can see which CS books have been badly cut here: http://www.collectingbooksandmagazines.com/ebd.html

    1. That site looks like a great resource for Brent-Dyer and for several of the other writers I'm interested in. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I came across a spare copy of Antonia Forest's Autumn Term just now and was going to despatch it to you as a reward for giving me so much pleasure through your website. However I see you already have it but possibly still unread?

    Antonia Forest is regarded by many of us as the crème de la crème of school story writers so if you haven't yet started on her Kingscote series I urge you to do so. I came to her more or less at the end of the series, with The Ready Made Family and I was blown away....


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