Tuesday, March 17, 2015

UPDATE: Other children's authors

Illustration from Hilda T. Skae's Adventue League

Well, if I haven't burnt you out on children's books yet with my series of six posts on girls' school authors recently added to the Overwhelming List, then here are a few more authors of children's fiction added at the same time who, as far as I know, did not ever write school stories.

Sadly, in many cases I have very little information about these authors and their books, so I can't promise that there are great lost treasures here (but there might be!).

I already mentioned CAROL FORREST in my recent post about my embarrassingly compulsive book shopping, and she has also already gone onto my updated War List. She was once incorrectly identified as a pseudonym of Catherine Christian, which you can read about here, and that same article provides a lot of other information about her books as well. Several of her books focus on Guiding, such as The Marigolds Make Good (1937) and Two Rebels and a Pilgrim (1941), the latter of which, about Guides who are fed up with Guiding, sounds like fun. But the one that broke down my resistance was The House of Simon (1942), an intriguing wartime tale of abandoned children making their own home. I have a copy of it on my shelf now, so it's just a matter of finding time for it!

JENNIE CHAPPELL, CATHERINE MARY MACSORLEY, and AMY WHIPPLE all came from Tina's wonderful bookstore pics, which I posted about last year—it just took me forever to finish the update which includes them. They all wrote children's fiction largely with religious themes, though I can't shed light on whether they were among the moralizing authors who tried to teach girls "proper" behavior or whether they were more lightly religious or spiritual in tone, like Elfrida Vipont, whose books I've been enjoying of late. I have to say they sound a bit more like the former than the latter… I also can't help wondering if there is any relationship between Amy and Dorothy Whipple? Just how common a name could Whipple have been? Dorothy's autobiography might shed light, but so far I've not got around to that.

BARBARA WILCOX could be as interesting for her books about farming and rural life as for her children's books, but little information is available about either. She also published cookbooks, so some of you might (?) have come across her.

Potentially of interest for its portrayal of class relations is HILDA T. SKAE's children's mystery, The Adventure League (1907), which is described as the tale of upper-class Scottish kids trying to prove that their working class friend didn't commit the crime. Happily, this one is available for free at Project Gutenberg. (And I just realized that Skae was from Tina's pics as well!)

So far ELSIE KATHLEEN SETH-SMITH is mainly of interest to me for the incredible length of her publishing career—more than 60 years between her first book and her last! But I wonder if some of her historical works might be worth following up on as well. Has anyone come across her?

It seems that PRISCILLA MARY WARNER was quite a successful children's author, though the title that kept coming up was If It Hadn't Been for Frances (1957), which I assume was her most reprinted work (judging from its relative availability). I wonder if any of you far-ranging readers have that one on your shelves?

It's a mixed bag, for sure, but let me know if you particularly recommend any of these authors for my TBR list (or, for that matter, if you specifically do not recommend any of them).

Prolific author of children's (and perhaps adult?) fiction from the 1870s to 1930s; titles include Oughts And Crosses (1886), Those Barrington Boys (1894), The Mystery of Marnie (1906), Holidays at Waverlea (1914), The Lost Doll (1920), and The Changeling (1926).

CAROL FORREST (dates unknown)
(pseudonym of Margaret Tennyson)
Once incorrectly identified as a pseudonym of Catherine Christian; author of several girls' stories focused on Guiding, such as The Marigolds Make Good (1937) and Two Rebels and a Pilgrim (1941); The House of Simon (1942) is an intriguing wartime tale of abandoned children making their own home.

(née Murray, aka Ann Carmichael)
More research needed; author of at least three works of children's fiction—The Hand in the Bag (1959), The Black Gull of Corrie Lochan (1964), and Anra the Storm Child (1965)—about which I've found little information.

Irish author of Christian-themed fiction for girls; titles include A Steep Road (1894), The Rectory Family (1910), The Road Through the Bog (1923), and The Children's Plan and What Came of it (1934).

(married name Murrell)
Biographer and author of historical novels from the 1900s to the late 1960s; historical novels include Friedhelm: A Story of the Fourth Crusade (1905) and Don Raimon (1919); children's titles include The Black Tower (1956), The Coal-Scuttle Bonnet (1958), and Jonah and the Cat (1967).

HILDA T. SKAE (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of at least three children's tales, including The Adventure League (1907), a mystery about Scottish children trying to clear a working class friend of a crime, The Campbells of Argyll (1913), and The Haunted House (1930).

(née Browne)
Historian, biographer, poet, and novelist; works include early surveys such as The Boy Through the Ages (1926) and bios of Christina Rossetti and George VI, as well as later children's titles, including The Young Clavengers (1947), The Five Wishes (1950), and The Mysterious Mamma (1951).

Children's author from the 1940s to 1960s; her best known title was If It Hadn't Been for Frances (1957); others include Embroidery Mary (1948), Tessie Growing Up (1952), Mr. and Mrs. Cherry (1953), A Friend for Frances (1956), and The Paradise Summer (1963).

AMY WHIPPLE (dates unknown)
More research needed; children's author of the early 1900's to 1930's, much of it with religious themes; titles include The Children of the Crag (1913), Winning the Prize (1917), Two Pairs and an Old (1923), Dr. Appleby's Daughters (1925), and Purple-Splendour Island (1933).

GRACE I. WHITHAM (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of historical fiction for children and perhaps fiction for adults as well; titles include Sir Sleep-Awake and His Brother (1908), The Nameless Prince (1912), The Guarded Room (1921), Stinging Nettles (1927), and When I Was a King (1937).

HILDA M. WICKSTEED (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of three children's books—Titch: The Story of a Dog (1920), Titch & Jock (1922), and Jerry & Grandpa (1930)—as well as a biography of the Unitarian minister Charles Wicksteed (1933), presumably an ancestor.

BARBARA WILCOX (dates unknown)
(married name Smith?)
More research needed; author of four children's books of the 1940s—Bunty Brown: Probationer (1940), Bunty Brown's Bargain (1942), Bunty of the Flying Squad (1943), and Susan at Herron's Farm (1946)—as well as cookbooks and books about rural life with her future husband.


  1. My mother bought 'Bunty Brown Probationer' for my sister and me on a stall in Leicester Market in the 1950's. We loved it. It might even have influenced my sister's choice of a career in nursing (in those days a probationer was a trainee nurse). I probably read it ten times, but I have no idea where it went to or whether it was any good. Don't you regret the lost books of your childhood?

    1. There are so many career stories like Bunty Brown that sound like such a lot of fun. Too many books, too little time! I do regret the lost books of my childhood, but sadly I also regret some from my adulthood, especially those I purged before moving to SF in 2000. Though, to be fair, if I still had all the books I ever bought, I'd need a house the size of Buckingham Palace to store them in!

    2. I have had the 3 Bunty Brown books since the 40s and 50s and am currently re-reading them. Last night I wondered about Barbara Wilcox and her life, so have been trying to find something about her. You don't say much either - but at least it's more than I'd discovered anywhere else, ie that she married and had a rural life!

  2. Oh my goodness, another amazing list. One author here whom I like a lot is P M Warner. In A Friend for Frances, two girls from very different backgrounds become friends through attending the same day school. If it Hadn't Been for Frances is a sequel. The Paradise summer is about a girl from a town vicarage who spends a happy holiday in the country. They don't sound exciting books, true, but they are very enjoyable.

    I have Susan at Herron's Farm but not the Bunty books. ISTR there was a brief discussion of those on Girlsown recently?

    You're inspiring me to start a series of blog posts on book covers.

    1. It's always so great to get your feedback and info on books I know little about. Warner's books sound perfect to me--I like quiet kinds of stories. I've added your notes to my database. Thanks!

    2. Priscilla Mary Warner is a favorite of mine, especially Biddy Christmas, an exquisite story. She illustrated it, too, and is quite a good artist. Warner also wrote an embroidery book, two, in fact.

  3. I love browsing these beautiful book covers, Scott! Hilda T. Skae is of particular interest to me as I read a lot of Scottish books and host a challenge to read Scottish authors. I am definitely getting the one on Gutenberg! I love the Jerry and Grandpa cover.

    Have you ever heard of Carroll Watson Rankin? She is from Marquette Michigan and wrote children's stories in the early 1900's. Dandelion Cottage is her most famous one and available on Gutenburg. https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/340362.Carroll_Watson_Rankin

    1. I know what you mean, Peggy Ann, I can't resist the Hilda Skae. And thanks to your recommendation, I've just added the ebook of Dandelion Cottage to my Kindle. Heaven knows when I'll get around to it, but it does look right up my alley. Thanks, Peggy Ann!

  4. Hello Scott, I'm a big fan of Priscilla M Warner too. I actually came to her through her books on needlecraft - she was a great stitcher. I then moved on to her illustrated books. I'm surprised you didn't have Biddy Christmas on your list as it comes up now and then in the UK - there are copies on Abebooks now and on ebay occasionally. Picture Come True is another she illustrated and is occasionally seen for sale. You'd love them both. Embroidery Mary is a treasure in my collection but I think only appreciated by needleworkers. Her later books (Friend for Frances, Paradise Summer, etc) are not illustrated by her sadly as they are much more commonly listed. Her other older books are like hens teeth!!!!

    1. Hi, Ann. Thank you for your comment and your recommendations on Warner. So many of these authors are hard to find, but it's always good to have recommendations in case I happen to stumble across one of the good ones!

    2. Embroidered Pictures and Patchwork is a treasure. Warner wanted people to make things and not buy junk...this was right after WWII. It was inspiring to me, for sure.


NOTE: The comment function on Blogger is notoriously cranky. If you're having problems, try selecting "Name/URL" or "Anonymous" from the "Comment as" drop-down (be sure to "sign" your comment, though, so I know who dropped by). Some people also find it easier using a browser like Firefox or Chrome instead of Internet Explorer.

But it can still be a pain, and if you can't get any of that to work, please email me at furrowed.middlebrow@gmail.com. I do want to hear from you!