Tuesday, August 5, 2014

List highlights: Kids' stuff

There were a total of 28 authors in the most recent update to my Overwhelming List who published significant works for children—apart from the authors known specifically for girls' fiction, which I singled out in my previous highlights post.  Not all of these jumped out at me as being absolutely essential to explore further, but as I know that many of you have a particular interest in children's fiction, I'm including them all here.

A few did seem intriguing, however.  I've already mentioned HESTER BURTON in another recent highlights post dedictaed to wartime women, but she certainly belongs here too.  And for a nice change of pace from all the girls' school writers I've been looking at, GERTRUDE KENT CARR was primarily known for her boys' school stories.

There were a whole slew of authors specializing in animal stories in the most recent update, particularly horses.  KATHLEEN FRANCES BARKER, known too for her drawings of dogs and horses, wrote fiction about a beagle named Bellman, and PHYLLIS BRIGGS also branched out into other novels as well as her horse stories. M. E. BUCKINGHAM branched out into the more exotic, writing about elephants and tigers as well as horses.  PATIENCE MCELWEE began as an adult novelist, penning several intriguing light novels, such as Roman Holiday (1939), Pride of Place (1950), Wintersweet (1954), and Malice Domestic (1958), but she later published three pony books for older readers, described at Jane Badger Books.

And three more authors seem to have stuck primarily with horse stories—HILDA BODEN, CECIL TREW, and MOYRA CHARLTON, the last a literary prodigy whose first book was published when she was only 11 years old (and who was mentioned briefly in my highlights post about intriguing people, in case she sounds familiar).

There are several authors best known for their historical fiction for children.  PAULINE CLARKE's The Boy with the Erpingham Hood (1956) is set before the battle of Agincourt, though I find myself more intrigued by The Twelve and the Genii (1962), which sources say was based on childhood writings by Branwell and Charlotte Brontë.  Hmmm.  ROSEMARY MANNING, who also wrote novels for adults—one of which, The Chinese Garden (1962), is set in a girls' school, so you know that's on my to read list—is known for Arripay (1963), about a boy during the Hundred Years War deciding between a career as a monk or as a pirate.  Decisions, decisions!  And BARBARA WILLARD wrote both for adults and for children as well—her Joy Befall Thee (1934), described as being about a family of theatrical costumiers, is enticing me—wrote the popular Mantlemass series, an historical saga which takes a family from the 15th to 17th century.  Much less well-known, but potentially of interest, is MARION GRAHAME MATTINGLY's one foray into children's fiction, Marcus the Briton: A Romance of Roman London (1928).

PHILIPPA PEARCE's novel Tom's Midnight Garden (1958), in which a child in quarantine for measles discovers a door to the Victorian world, has already been recommended to me by a reader named Tom (who may or may not have himself discovered portals into other worlds—he's not saying).  And while JENIFER WAYNE hasn't specifically been recommended to me, her humorous family tales, including Clemence and Ginger (1960), The Day the Ceiling Fell Down (1961), and The Ghost Next Door (1965), seem worth sampling.

Just one of Pearl Binder's lovely lithographs; this one is
a Jewish bookshop in Wentworth Street

Finally, although PEARL BINDER did in fact publish several books for children, she is clearly best known for other things, including being a BBC broadcaster on fashion, and for her art.  Some of her lithographs are breathtaking, and you can see more of them here.

The full list of 28 children's authors is below.  Hope you find them of interest.

Children's author and illustrator, particularly known for her drawings of dogs and horses; Barker also wrote fiction (for children?) about animals, including Bellman: The Story of a Beagle (1933), Bellman Carries On (1933), Traveller's Joy (1934), and The Wood by the Water (1957).

PEARL BINDER (1904-1990)
(originally Binderevski, married name Elwyn-Jones)
Born in England to Ukrainian parents, Binder is best known as an artist, illustrator, and writer and BBC broadcaster on fashion, but she also wrote several books for children, including Odd Jobs (1935), Misha and Masha (1936), and Misha Learns English (1942).

What on earth to make of such a title???

(married name Vere-Hodge)
Playwright, children’s author, and novelist, Bingley wrote six one-act plays in the 1950s, two children’s books of the 1960s, including Vicky and the Monkey People (1966), and an historical novel, The Clear Heart, published by Hutchinson in 1945, all making use of her life in India.

JEAN BLATHWAYT (1918-     )
A nurse and nursery school teacher as well as author, Blathwayt published more than a dozen books for children, including Uncle Paul's House (1957), The Well Cabin (1957), Jenny Leads the Way (1958), The Beach People (1960), Peter's Adventure (1961), and House of Shadows (1967).

HILDA BODEN (1901-1988)
(pseudonym of Hilda Bodenham, née Morris)
Prolific children’s author from the 1940s to 1970s whose works often featured horses; titles like Pony Trek (1948) and One More Pony (1952) were followed by six tales of the Marlow family and Boden’s own favorite work, Faraway Farm (1961).

VIOLET [ALICE] BRADBY (c1872-1956)
(née Milford, incorrectly listed in BL catalogue as “Violet Brady”)
Successful children’s author of the 1910s to 1930s, whose work seems to make liberal use of fairies; her titles include Matthew and the Miller (1909), The Capel Cousins (1912), Lodgings to Let (1918), Potter's Haven (1923), Managing Jane (1927), and Meadowsweet Farm (1934).

(aka Philip Briggs)
Author of children’s fiction from the 1930s to 1960s, including such titles as Wolf of the North (1937), The Silent Hunter (1939), North with the "Pintail" (1943), The Cat of Pine Ridge (1944), The Keeper of the Lake (1945), Son of Black Beauty (1952), and The Silent Planet (1957).

M. E. BUCKINGHAM (1903-1975)
(pseudonym of Agnes Mary Easton, née Huntingford)
Author of several children’s books featuring animals, including the horse stories Phari: The Adventures of a Tibetan Pony (1933), Zong: A Hill Pony (1934), and The Great Carlos (1945); others include Argh: The Tale of a Tiger (1935), Rajah the Elephant (1937), and Arrowflag (1940).

Children’s author and illustrator; although most of her books, such as The House the Moles Built (1939) and Teddy, the Little Refugee Mouse (1942), are for small children, others like The Odd Little Girl (1932) and Captain Seal's Treasure Hunt (1933) seem to be longer works.

HESTER BURTON (1913-2000)
(née Wood-Hill)
Teacher, assistant editor of the Oxford Junior Encyclopedia, and historical children’s novelist; best-known titles include The Great Gale (1960), set during the East Anglia floods, In Spite of All Terror (1968), set during WWII, and Thomas (1969), set during the Great Plague of London.

(aka M. C. Carey)
Carey worked for the Girl Guides Association, the Junior Book Club, and J.M. Dent & Sons, and published an array of children’s non-fiction and collections of legends and myths; she also wrote what appears to be a novel for children, Nicky Goes Ashore (1957).

(married name Oliver, aka Kent Carr, aka G. Kent Oliver)
Although she also wrote several nonfiction works for children, Carr seems to have been best known for her boys' school stories, including Rivals & Chums (1908), Not Out! (1909), which Spectator praised enthusiastically, The Shaping of Jephson's (1919), and Caught Out (1920).

MOYRA CHARLTON (1918-2000)
(full name Yvonne Moyra Graham Charlton)
Children’s author whose first book, Tally-Ho (1930), appeared when she was only 11; later titles, including several more animal stories, include The Midnight Steeplechase (1932), My Lord Goes Wayfaring (1935), and Echoing Horn (1939); One Man in His Time (1938) is an adult historical novel.

PAULINE CLARKE (1921-     )
(married name Blair, aka Helen Clare)
Children’s author known for The Pekinese Princess (1948), a fairy tale set in a kingdom ruled by dogs, The Boy with the Erpingham Hood (1956), set before the battle of Agincourt, and The Twelve and the Genii (1962), based on childhood writings by Branwell and Charlotte Brontë.

Undoubtedly one of Burroughes' books for younger
children, but I couldn't resist the lovely giraffe...

(married name Holloway)
Children’s author who published mainly for younger children, but several of her works, such as The Noddles, The Noddles Again, and Beryl's Wonderful Week (all 1944, according to BL), seem to be longer tales for older children.

A truly terrible photo, but absolutely the only one I could find
of a Joyce Cecilia Dixon book, and rather intriguing, no?

(née Barton)
More research needed; author of two children’s books—The Rustication of Randy (1945) and Titania Had a Daughter (1948); one source says she wrote "country novels," but I haven't located them; unclear if she’s also the Joyce Dixon who published Christian stories for children.

(erroneously listed in British Library catalogue as "Forres Robertson")
More research needed; possibly related to Diana Forbes-Robertson?; actress who played Peter Pan on the London stage, and author of one children’s book, Chowry, and Idle's Islands: Two Tales of Fantasy (1953).

NATALIE JOAN (c1886-1956)
(pseudonym of Natalie Joe Engleheart, née Davy)
Founder of Moffats prep school and author of fiction and poetry for very young and for older children, including such works as The Hunter Children (1922), Jess of Top Farm (1924), The Forest Children (1927), and Three for Luck (1935), as well as two titles in the Ameliaranne series.

One of Rosemary Manning's adult novels,
and another to add to my future list of
novels for adults set in girls' schools

LILLIE LE PLA (1894-1957)
More research needed; author of at least seven children’s adventure tales of the 1920s; titles include The Call of the Dawn (1922), The Secret Shore (1925), The Secret of Desborough House (1926), Tangletrees (1927), The Treasure of Monk's Burn (1928), and The Secret of the Wood (1928).

(aka Sarah Davys, aka Mary Voyle)
Author of children's fiction, such as the Susan and R. Dragon series and Arripay (1963), about a boy during the Hundred Years War deciding between a career as a monk or as a pirate; Manning also wrote adult novels, including Remaining a Stranger (1953) and The Chinese Garden (1962).

(née Meikleham)
Apparently the author of only two books, a children’s guide to the British Museum (1924) and a children’s novel, Marcus the Briton: A Romance of Roman London (1928).

One of McElwee's novels for adults;
another school novel, perhaps?

(spelled Macelwee in the British Library catalogue, née Kennington)
Wife of novelist William McElwee and author of several intriguing light novels, such as Roman Holiday (1939), Pride of Place (1950), Wintersweet (1954), and Malice Domestic (1958); later in her career she published three pony books for older readers, described here.

Children's author most active in the 1950s and 1960s; her titles include Polly of Primrose Hill (1956), All Because of Posy (1957), The Camerons Lead the Way (1957), Aunt Biddy Began It (1960), Number One, Victoria Terrace (1962), and Sally Anne Sees It Through (1967).

(married name Christie)
Children's author best known for Tom's Midnight Garden (1958), in which a child in quarantine for measles discovers a door to the Victorian world; other titles include Minnow on the Say (1955), Mrs. Cockle's Cat (1961), A Dog So Small (1962), and The Children of the House (1968).

(née Russell, later married name Ehrenborg)
Best known as an illustrator, including for two Primrose Cumming books, and for non-fiction on animals and drawing, Trew also published several children's books, including the pony stories Asido: The Story of a Mexican Pony (1935) and Wild Horse of the West (1937).

(née Deck, aka Mrs. O. F. Walton)
Author of Christian-themed children's books for the Religious Tract Society from the 1870s to the 1900s, with one final work, Strange Diana, appearing in 1919 to qualify her for this list; her most famous titles are A Peep Behind The Scenes (1877) and Christie's Old Organ (1874).

JENIFER WAYNE (1917-1982)
(married name Hewitt)
Children’s author and producer of the BBC series “This Is the Law”; best known for humorous family tales such as Clemence and Ginger (1960), The Day the Ceiling Fell Down (1961), and The Ghost Next Door (1965), and for a series for younger children about a character named Sprout.

Starting out with nearly a dozen adult novels, such as Love in Ambush (1930), Joy Befall Thee (1934), about a family of theatrical costumiers, and Portrait of Philip (1951), about Philip Sidney, Willard later turned to children's books, including the acclaimed Mantlemass series (1970-1981).


  1. I may or may not have been the Tom who suggested "Tom's Midnight Garden," but I will officially do so now. I am fascinated with children's time travel novels, and would also like to recommend "Time at the Top" by Edward Ormondroyd (sorry it's a man, but OTHERS may wish to read it!) and if anyone can ever find the title of a novel for me, where two children time travel and at the end, actually MEET the little girl - now an old woman - I'd be grateful! Thanks, Scott, for this great posting. As a former children's librarian, I am thrilled to see so many old and now soon-to-be new favorites herein! Tom Johnson

    1. Of course it was you, Tom. I think you're just being coy because you don't want folks to know about your own portal to Victorian England.

      I think I already tried to identify the book you're thinking of and failed, didn't I? But maybe one of the other brilliant readers will have some ideas.

  2. Novels for adults set in girls' schools: that sounds like a wonderful list. So many of the covers above are just glorious -- real treats to the eye.

    1. I've been trying to brainstorm and research it and will post it when I have a chance. Let me know if you have suggestions, Vicki!

  3. Alternative US title of The Twelve and the Genii is The Return of the Twelves. I have read this several times and love it.


  4. Forgot to add, Tom's Midnight Garden is also a very good memory to me. I need to see if I have a copy and read it again.


  5. Oh, thanks, Jerri, I think I may have to check out both of these. If only there were more hours in the week!

  6. This is a remarkable blog-entry, with many fascinating book-covers.
    Pauline Clarke, who also writes as Helen Clare, and, for adults, using her married name, Pauline Hunter-Blair, is a remarkable writer.
    Her illustrator, Cecil Mary Leslie, who was also a close friend of Clarke, deserves attention, as well! (Apart from illustrating ALL of Clarke's and Clare's children's novels, Leslie also illustrated an edition of Nesbit's "The Would-be Goods" and "The Treasure Seekers", and an outstanding Puffin edition of "Heidi"!)
    Yes, Clarke's "Twelve and the Genii" is based on the set of toy soldiers that Bramwell Bronte and his sisters played with as children, and on the stories the children wrote about the soldiers and their adventures.
    You might like to see my Amazon reviews of Clarke's books, and Hunter-Blair's.
    Clarke's first book, "The Pekinese Princess" is an Oriental epic romance about valiant Pekineses, and wicked cats and monkeys -- inspired by Leslie's own Pekinese dogs!
    "Torolv the Fatherless" is a stunning historical novel. Torolv, a cognate version of the Scandinavian boys' name, "Trolf", is an illegitimate son of a Danish fisherwoman. He is lost at sea, and rescued by Anglo-Saxon fishermen. Later he is an adopted servant of an Anglo-Saxon king, and the story reaches a tragic climax with the 991 A.D. Battle of Maldon in which Viking invaders defeated the chivalrous Anglo-Saxons. Clarke's own translation of the Anglo-Saxon poem that commemorates the battle is masterly!


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