Monday, October 30, 2006

Maud Miller

I've mentioned Maud Miller previously, although only briefly in passing.

Maud Mary Miller wrote a number of film and TV related books, including the 400-page Winchester's Screen Encyclopedia -- Winchester in this case being Clarence Winchester, the famous editor of partworks for Amalgamated Press.

She was also editor of the Girl Film and Television Annual (1957-1961). She contributed film related articles to Girl Annual 5-7 (1956-58) which makes me wonder if her contributions to Swft Annual included the film related 'Behind the Camera' (Swift Annual 3, 1956) in which a young lad named Tim spends a day in a film studio. There are no film features in Swift Annual 4-5, to which she also contributed.

Boys' and Girls' Film Book, with Mary Field. London, Burke, 1947.
Winchester's Screen Encyclopedia, ed. Maud M. Miller. London, Winchester Publications, 1948.
Girl Film and Television Annual 1-5. London, Hulton Press, 5 vols., 1957-61.
The Boys' and Girls' Book of Films and Television, with Mary Field, in association with Roger Manvell. London, Burke Publishing Co., 1961.
Girl Television and Film Annual 6. London, Longacre Press, 1962.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Giorgio De Gaspari

Well, Dinah Lawrence didn't take long to write up so I thought I'd put up a couple more pictures from the War Picture Library, along with the published versions. The first one I picked for the interesting variation: on the original artwork the boat is numbered 20, the published version has boat number 23. No idea why this change was made... perhaps to match the number of the boat in the strip itself.

The artist of both covers, above and below, is Giorgio De Gaspari, an Italian who produced dozens of covers for issues of War Picture Library in 1958-61 and then made irregular later appearances. He also produced covers for Sexton Blake Picture Library and for paperbacks, including at least one Tarzan cover for Four Square (Tarzan and the Castaways, Four Square 1552, 1966). Doing a quick search for information -- and there turned out to be precious little -- I spotted a short article about De Gaspari appears in Burroughs Bulletin 65 (Winter 2006), including a photo of the man himself. If anyone has access to it, I wouldn't mind seeing a copy.

Dinah Lawrence

After a couple of days break, we're back to digging out information on authors who contributed to Swift Annual. And today's author is...

Dinah Lawrence. I really haven't been able to find much. She contributed to Swift Annual 5, 6 and 7 (1958-60) and, soon after, wrote a novel, A Sudden Loneliness, published by Digit Books (R619) in 1963.

There was a Mrs. Dinah Lawrence living at 88 Portland Place, London W.1 in 1939 but whether this was "our" Dinah I've no idea.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Comic Clippings - 27 October

Random bits of news...
  • I mentioned Sean Phillips a couple of days ago and, lo, an interview appears (24 October) at the Forbidden Planet blog about his new series, Criminal.
  • The FP blog, which is becoming one of my favourites, also has an interview with Ed Hillyer (Ilya) about his book from Robson, The Mammoth Book of Best New Manga.
  • Paul Gravett's Great British Comics is due in shops on November 15th but the Great British Comics website is now open for business. Lots of samples from the book, which I'm greatly looking forward to.
  • Italian artist Dino Leonetti died on 24 October. Born in 1937, Leonetti attended artschool and later the Accademia di Scenografia which led to his involvement in the world of films. He turned to drawing comics in 1962, producing episodes of the Italian version of 'Mandrake'. Other early strips included 'L'Uomo Masherato', 'Fantasm' and, with Francesco Verola, 'Demoniak'. He also contributed to British comics -- drawing 'Dick Turpin' and 'Trelawney of the Guards' via Studio Giolitti -- before returning to movie work in 1965-73. In 1974 he introduced the erotic strip 'Maghella', published in Menelik and Epiperiodeci. As his workload expanded, Leonetti set up his own studio where Roberto De Angelis, Giuseppe Barbati, Stefano Andreucci and others got their start. Leonetti also drew epsidoes of the 'Storia di Roma' series and created the series 'Flower' and 'Marshall Jim' for Corrier Boy. Later produced girls' stories and illustrations for the paperback market.
  • The Best of My Guy from Robson inspired the BBC News website (25 October) to run a series of pictures from the book featuring actors who, before they were famous, regularly appeared in photo strips. Actors and actresses include George Michael, Hugh Grant and Tracey Ullman. No Lorraine Kelly or Leslie Ash then?
  • Chris Staros has reached an agreement with Great Ormond Street Hospital over the UK publication of Lost Girls. The London children's hospital was bequeathed the copyright of Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie which caused some problems as Alan Moore & Melinda Gebbie's book features Wendy from the famous play. According to a note sent by Staros to The Beat, "I flew to England and met with the hospital on Oct 11th and on that day we signed an agreement together putting to end the controversy surrounding the issue. It was a nice meeting and we're very glad that we could come to a peaceful settlement. We'll gear back up for a big UK and EU release of Lost Girls towards the end of next year." The book will have a special UK First Edition release on 1 January 2008.

(* I was in London yesterday for a meeting with a publisher about doing some comic-related books. As soon as I get any news I'll post it here but I'm hopeful that there will be a handful of interesting titles coming out around this time next year.

Something I can mention: the text for the Fleetway War Libraries index is in the hands of the publisher and some of the illustrations we'll be using have been photographed from the original cover artwork. Geoff West was down at the IPC warehouse recently and busy with his camera ahead of the artwork disappearing for pastures new a couple of hundred miles north. I've just been looking at a few of the pictures and they look amazing.)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Rosemary Garland

Rosemary Garland was a regular contributor to the Swift Annual, writing anonymously for the first four editions (1954-57); she was also a regular contributor to Robin Annual, writing (and usually illustrating) items in the first nine annuals. She wrote stories for Eagle (1950), Girl (1953-57), penned the feature 'Ancient Wonders' in Swift (1960-61) and contributed to Robin, where she was assistant editor from 1953.

Garland had been born in Sorrento, Italy, and was educated privately in Italy, France and England. Married to Robert Hughes, she had worked as publicity advisor to The Glass Manufacturers Asociation of Great Britain before joining Hulton Press (later Odhams Press).

She lived in Kingsbury, Somerset.

The Mystery of Misty Creek. London, Ward Lock, 1956.
A Swarm in June, illus. Valerie Taylor. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1957.
Whirling Blue, illus. Cecil Leslie. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1957.
Donkey Boy, illus. Constance Marshall. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1958.
The Country Bus, illus. Cecil Leslie. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1958.
The Little Forest, illus. Cecil Leslie. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1959.
The Secret Curtains [and Easter Prize], illus. Sheila Rose. London, George G. Harrap & Co., 1959.
The Canary Shop, illus. Juliette Palmer. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1960.
The Umbrella Man, illus. Juliette Palmer. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1962.
Adventuring with Brindle, illus. Constance Marshall. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1963.
Cherry Goes to Play School, illus. Reintje Venema. London, Harrap, 1968.
Big Top Ballet. London, Young World Productions, n.d.
Cubby. London, Young World Productions, n.d.
Peter Pipkin. London, Young World Productions, n.d.
The Magic Feather. London, Young World Productions, n.d.


The Smiling Sun, illus. Adolf Zábranský. London, Paul Hamlyn, 1961.
Sing a Song of Everything (originally published as Cacky hracky, Mladé letá, 1963, with text by Krista Bendová), illus. Mirko Hanák. Feltham, Hamlyn, 1968.

Glass. London, Educational Supply Association, 1952.
Lighthouses. London, Educational Supply Association, 1958.

Reading with Winnie-the-Pooh (series), derived from the books written by A.A. Milne, adapted by Rosemary Garland:
__#1: Pooh's Book, illus. Walt Disney Studio. London, Nelson, 1966.
__#2: Piglet's Book, illus. Justin Michmann. London, Nelson, 1966.
__#3: Tigger's Book, illus. Alan Fredman. London, Nelson, 1966.
__#4: Eeyore's Book, illus. Justin Michmann. London, Nelson, 1966.
__#5: Rabbit's Book, illus. Pete Adby. London, Nelson, 1966.
__#6: Christopher Robin's Book, illus. Walt Disney Studio. London, Nelson, 1966.
My Bedtime Book of Two-minute Stories, ed. Rosemary Garland; illus. Tony Escott & Sally Wellman. London, Ward Lock, 1969.

Mick Hall

E. M. (Mick) Hall was on the staff at Fleetway Publications as art editor of their nursery comics in the 1960s and was an irregular scriptwriter for various series. In the 1950s he wrote scripts for 'Jack and Jill', 'Fun in Toyland', 'Flipper the Jolly Penguin', 'Harold Hare', 'The Merry Stories of Pixie Pip', 'The Tiny Tales of Gregory Grasshopper' as well as artwork for the feature 'It's Fun Finding Out' (all in Jack and Jill), and 'Harry on His Own' (in Playhour).

He later produced artwork for a number of 'Tom & Jerry' audio books published by Carnival in 1990 but I've otherwise traced no other work by Hall who, presumably, was far more prolific than this little sketch would indicate. Hall contributed to Swift Annual 2 (1955) and may have worked on the Hulton paper before arriving at Fleetway.

One of the Boys by Penny Carstairs. London, Carnival, 1990.
Ghost Mouse by Stephen Thraves. London, Carnival, 1990.
Fat Free Cat by Stephen Thraves. London, Carnival, 1990.
Magical Cat by Penny Carstairs. London, Carnival, 1990.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Peter Grey

Peter Grey was born in London in 1918 and was a journalist who worked as a London and European correspondent for various agencies and papers. Grey was fiction editor for Hulton Press and a features editor and director of Buckingham Press Ltd. and editor of Reader's Review. Grey contributed to all the major London magazine publishers, including Hulton Press, Newnes and the Amalgamated Press as well as numerous magazines and newspapers overseas.

Grey was fiction editor for Girl in the early 1950s, contibuting a number of stories himself, including the serial 'The Caravan Secret' (1951) and the Sally Lester series of complete stories (1952-54). He also contributed a story to Swift Annual 1 (1954) and, probably, Girl Annual.

In 1959-61, Grey wrote the popular Kit Hunter, show jumper series of novels published by World Distributors. In the first novel, the orphaned Kit travelled to the moorland home of Colonel Hamden, a friend of Kit's widowed mother, only to find that Hamden is in financial difficulties. Kit exposes the Colonel's shrewish secretary as the culprit trying to ruin him and uses her skill as a horsewoman to ride a crossbred pony -- called The Wild One -- to victory in various showjumping events and restore the Colonel's fortune.

Over the remainder of the series, Kit and her friend Mary Trent were to win against the odds in events around the world as she tours Europe, Australia, South America and elsewhere to enter showjumping contests. A very good summary of the series, including cover scans, can be found at the Kit Hunter page of the Vintage Series Books for Girls website.

The first two novels were reprinted in Girl in 1959, illustrated by Harry Lindfield. Grey also wrote three more short serials, 'Trapped', 'The Trail of the Serpent' and 'Flight Into Danger', in 1961.

At the time he was writing these yarns, Grey was living in Highgate, North London. What became of him I've no idea. His short serial 'Trapped!' was reprinted in Mystery Stories for Girls (Hamlyn, 1974).

Kit Hunter Show Jumper (series):
__The Wild One. Manchester, World Distributors, 1959.
__South American Mission. Manchester, World Distributors, 1959.
__Rival Riders. Manchester, World Distributors, 1959.
__Bush Adventure. Manchester, World Distributors, 1959.
__The Mystery of the Mine. Manchester, World Distributors, 1960.
__Moor Grange Mystery. Manchester, World Distributors, 1960.
__Fiesta for Wild One. Manchester, World Distributors, 1960
__The Phantom Horse. Manchester, World Distributors, 1960.
__Little Outlaw. Manchester, World Distributors, 1961.
__The Last Hurdle. Manchester, World Distributors, 1961.
__Royal Command. Manchester, World Distributors, 1961.
__The Homing Trail. Manchester, World Distributors, 1961.

? The Sun is Silent. Stories by Rima Alamuddin; with an introduction by Peter Grey. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1964.
True Adventure Stories of the Air, ed. Peter Grey. Bancroft, 1968.
True Adventure Stories of the Sea, ed. Peter Grey. Bancroft, 1968.
True Adventure Stories of the Wild West, ed. Peter Grey. Bancroft, 1968.
True Adventure Stories on Land, ed. Peter Grey. Bancroft, 1968.

Dennis Duckworth

I believe Dennis Duckworth, who contributed to Swift Annual 6 (1959), is Minister and artist the Reverend Dennis Duckworth. Duckworth, born in Accrington, Lancashire, on 14 September 1911, grew up in the North of England; he spent over fifty years in London as a minister with the New Church (Swedenborgian) but, towards the end of his life, returned to Lancashire where he died on 21 December 2003, aged 92, after a short illness.

Duckworth was a recognised artist in a largely modernist cubist style. You can find out more about Duckworth's artwork at the website he maintained. Some of his paintings were turned into greetings cards. An exhibition of his most recent artwork is currently running at the Haworth Art Gallery in Accrington.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Rex Dixon (Reginald Alec Martin)

Rex Dixon is credited with stories in Swift Annual 1962 (1961) and 1963 (1962); the first of these was published anonymously but is easy to identify.

The author's real name was Reginald Alec Martin (1900-1971), whose first published novel, a western for adults, appeared in 1949. During the 1950s and 1960s, he turned out some 114 novels for adults and children as well as ghosting a couple of non-fiction titles for sportsmen. His two main fields were westerns and science fiction and he is probably best known for his Pocomoto adventures (as Rex Dixon) and the Kemlo science fiction novels (as E. C. Eliott).

I mentioned that his contributions to Swift Annual were easily identified because both featured Pocomoto, 'Just Lucky' (1961) and 'The Mustang' (1962). There is a very good summary of the Pocomoto novels written by Jim Mackenzie as well as lots of illustratoins from both the Pocomoto and Kemlo series on John Tipper's Reginald Alec Martin page at the Collecting Books and Magazines web site.

The picture above comes from Swift Annual 1963 and is drawn by Harry Bishop and is © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Lesley Gordon

Another Swift Annual author...

Lesley Gordon wrote and illustrated a feature in Swift Annual 5 (1958). There were a handful of small books published as early as 1937 which may be by the same author and, after a gap of some years, a lot of books on gardening and folklore about plants. Could be the same author but I've not been able to find anything on the web.

Sorrowful and Not-So-Sorrowful Tales. Monologues. London, Samuel French, 1937.
The Busy Book of Jenny Lou. London, Lutterworth Press, 1941.
Busy Jenny Lou at Home. London, Lutterworth Press, 1941.
Jenny Lou is Busy Again. London, Lutterworth Press, 1941.
Snips and Snails. London & Redhill, Lutterworth Press, 1943.

A Pageant of Dolls. A brief history of dolls showing the national costumes & customs of many lands, forward by James Laver. Leicester, Edmund Ward, 1948.
Peepshow Into Paradise. A history of children's toys. London, George G. Harrap & Co., 1953.
Poorman's Nosegay. Flowers from a cottage garden. London, Collins/Harvill Press, 1973.
Green Magic: Flowers, Plants & Herbs in Lore. London, Ebury Press, 1977.
A Country Herbal. Exeter, Webb & Bower, 1980.
The Complete Guide to Drying and Preseving Flowers, with Jean Lorimer. Exeter, Webb & Bower, Aug 1982.
Old Roses. Exeter, Webb & Bower, 1983.
Trees. Exeter, Webb & Bower, 1983.
A Year of Flowers. Exeter, Webb & Bower, 1983.
A Gallery of Fashion. Exeter, Webb & Bower, 1984.
The Language of Flowers. Exeter, Webb & Bower, 1984.
The Mystery and Magic of Trees and Flowers. Exeter, Webb & Bower, 1985.

Comic Clippings - 22 October

I'm taking a break from writing an article so don't expect too much!
  • 'Black Celebration' (, 18 October 2006). An interview with Alan Moore about the upcoming League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier graphic novel due out next Wednesday from WildStorm/ABC. "Basically it's a source book, but taking the idea of a source book to an entirely new level, in that all the things that make up the source-book part of it are all wonderful little fully realized narratives in their own right, and then wrapped around those source-book sections, there is this narrative that involves a couple of those characters from the League stealing this source book from MI5 in 1958 and then going on the run, pursued by a bunch of British intelligence agents of a 1958 vintage."
  • Ian Rankin, of Rebus novels fame, is to write Hellblazer for DC Comics. Not new news but he discusses his love of comics in an interview in The Independent (22 October 2006). Says interviewer Danuta Kean: "It will mark a dream fulfilled: the nine-year-old Rankin gave up creating comics when he realised he couldn't draw. He hasn't stopped reading them."
  • Andy Diggle, former 2000AD editor, is interviewed at The Pulse (19 October 2006) about his upcoming work on Batman Confidential. You'll have to scroll down the page to the headline "Confidentially Speaking: Andy Diggle & Batman".
  • Bryan Talbot was recently at KomiksFest 2006 in Prague to promote the Czech version of Heart of Empire. An interesting little biographical sketch mentions that Bryan's first published illustration appeared in the British Tolkein Society Magazine in 1969, which may be common knowledge but it's something I never knew.
  • Talking of first work, here's the opening page of Sean Phillips' first professionally published work: the strip was 'Simple Simon' and it appeared in Judy Annual (inks by Ken Houghton). Amazingly confident for a 15-year-old and, astonishingly, Sean was already a three-year veteran! You'll find an example of 'The Size Changer' on the same page, published in a local newspaper in 1977 when Sean was only 12. Sean has gone on to become one of our finest exports, working mostly for DC Comics (most recently on Criminal, written by Ed Brubaker). He has a fine website and a blog if you want to see more of his work.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Daphne Going

Today's Swift Annual author is...

Daphne Going. Apart from being the author of the juvenile non-fiction title below and one anonymous contribution to Swift Annual 8 (1961) I can find nothing about her.

Lamps and Lighting, illus. Robert Hodgson. Oxford, Blackwell (Learning Library 78), 1974.

The 1974 date comes from the National Library of Scotland catalogue, although I notice that the one copy for sale on is dated 1961 by the seller. But they list an ISBN number (0631132902) which matches the information from the NLS... but I'm sure ISBNs weren't used on books in the early 1960s and the 1974 date seems to fit in with other titles in Blackwell's 'Learning Library' series.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Journey Into Space

Following up the little piece I did on Charles Chilton yesterday. Howard Corn was visiting today and I received a copy of the latest (Autumn 2006) issue of Eagle Times. One of the articles was from Yours magazine (July 2006) about the discovery of a cache of papers and records found by a chap in a recycling centre. Looking through them he discovered he was looking at signed photographs of the cast of Journey Into Space, correspondence from author Charles Chilton and the original recordings of music for the show -- not just the original Journey Into Space (1953) recordings but also the music cues for The Red Planet (1954) and The World in Peril (1955).

The rescued material had belonged to composer Van Phillips who had worked on the show. The whole lot had been thrown into a skip and it was a million to one chance that they were rescued, discovered by a record fan who picked up the box of vinyl and only later realised what he had found.

It would be great to have all this rediscovered material made available but a second mention of Journey Into Space in the same issue makes it seem unlikely that it will ever happen. It seems that the BBC, who have released Operation Luna (the 1958 remake of the first series) and The Red Planet as boxed-set CDs aren't going to produce the last box-set, which was due out a couple of weeks ago (4 October), containing The World In Peril and Return to Mars. Sales of the first two sets have been disappointing, apparently... not surprising when you consider the price: Operation Luna (7 discs) had a RRP of £60 and The Red Planet (10 discs) had a RRP of £80. This third set was also to be priced at £80., who are offering Red Planet at a massive discount, are still charging £55. Far too much for the core audience who would want to listen again to a childhood favourite, especially when the whole series has been rebroadcast for free on BBC7.

Mentioning Eagle Times... after nearly 20 years, the magazine still comes up with new features every issue. There's a certain amount of repetition, of course: 75 issues about the same comic and you're bound to cover some of the same ground, albeit from different angles. But there's enough new material to make up for that minor niggle and, after many years printed in black & white, half the pages are now printed in colour. High costs and a low sale -- a problem for any fanzine -- mean that the rates are likely to increase to £22 for four issues in 2007, although Howard mentioned that he was runningi an offer -- £20 for anyone subscribing before the end of the year. Well worth the price.

If you're not a subscriber, you should send for details: Keith Howard, 25A Station Road, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 2UA. Or just send a cheque. The Eagle Society also hosts various events during the year, including an annual dinner. I'm told they're coming to Colchester next April. I might make it for once.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

C. D. Dimsdale

Still waiting...

I thought I was going to whisk through C. D. Dimsdale because, at first, I could find only a handful of mentions. He contributed a series on "legal luminaries" to Great Thoughts magazine in 1935 and wrote an article on swordsmanship and fencing in Chamber's Journal in 1939. He also contributed anonymously to Swift Annual 2 and had an article, 'Trees in Britain' in Girl Annual 4 (1956).

However, the British Library listed 'C. D. Dimsdale' as a pseudonym and a look in Atkinson's Dictionary of Literary Pseudonyms reveals it to be the pen-name of Rodolphe Louis Megroz (2 August 1891-30 September 1968), who also wrote as Roy Cumberland.

A good biographical sketch can be found at the University of Reading website, the University having purchased a collection of Megroz's papers in 1980. (Another collection of papers can be found at the Lilly Library, Indiana University.)

Based on his output, I'd say he was probably the author of one of the nature articles that appeared in Swift Annual 2. Just a guess -- but you'd only be disappointed if I didn't offer any theories.

Walter de la Mare: A Study. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1924.
A Talk with Joseph Conrad, and a criticism of his mind and method. London, Elkin Mathews, 1926.
Francis Thompson, the Poet of Earth in Heaven. A study in poetic mysticism and the evolution of love-poetry. London, Faber & Gwyer, 1927.
The Three Sitwells. A biographical and critical study. London, The Richards Press Ltd., 1927.
Shakespeare as a Letter-writer and Artist in Prose. A disquisition, two anthologies and a ramble. London, Wishart & Co., 1927.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Painter Poet of Heaven in Earth. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1928.
Ronald Ross. Discoverer and creator. London, G. Allen & Unwin, 1931.
Joseph Conrad's Mind and Method. A study of personality in art. London, Faber & Faber, 1931; New York, Russell & Russell, 1964.
Rhys Davies. A critical sketch. London, W. & G. Foyle, 1932.
Modern English Poetry, 1882-1932. London, I. Nicholson & Watson, 1933.
Five Novelist Poets of To-day. London, Joiner & Steele, 1933.
English Poetry for Children. A tract for the times. London, Fenland Press, 1934.
A Guide to Poetry for Reciters and Teachers. London, Sir I. Pitman & Sons, 1934.
The Dream World. A survey of the history and mystery of dreams. London, John Lane The Bodley Head, 1939.
The Real Robinson Crusoe. Being the life and strange surprising adventures of Alexander Selkirk of Largo, Fife, mariner. London, Cresset Press, 1939.
Profile Art Through the Ages. A study of the use and significance of profile and silhouette from the stone age to puppet films. London, 1948.
Thirty-one Bedside Essays. Oxford, Pen-in-hand Publishing Co., 1949.

Non-fiction as C. D. Dimsdale
Babies. A miscellany of the literature of infancy. London, Golden Galley Press, 1948.
Come Out of Doors. A guide for nature lovers, illus. C. F. Tunnicliffe. London, Hutchinson & Co., 1951.

Personal Poems. London, E. Mathews, 1919.
The Story of Ruth. An idyll. London, E. Mathews & Marrot, 1927.

For Father. A book of domestic letters, with extracts from diaries, histories and biographies, ed. R. L. Megroz. London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1928.
Letters of Women in Love, selected by R. L. Megroz. London, Thornton Butterworth, 1929.
Dramatic Verse, from Shakespeare and His Contemporaries. An anthology for verse-speakers and schools, ed. R. L. Megroz. London, Sir I. Pitman & Sons, 1935.
Modern Poems for Children. An anthology for school and home, ed. Isabel and R. L. Megroz. Wisbech, Cambs., Fenland Press, 1935.
A Treasury of Modern Poetry. An anthology of the last forty years, ed. R. L. Megroz. London, Sir I. Pitman & Sons, 1936.
The Lear Omnibus, filled up by R. L. Megroz. London, T. nelson & Sons, 1938.
The Book of Lear, ed. R. L. Megroz. Harmondsworth, Penguin Books (234), 1939.
The Cook's Paradise. Being William Verral's 'Complete System of Cookery,' published in 1759. With Thomas Gray's Cookery notes in holograph, introduction and appendices by R. L. Megroz. London, Sylvan Press, 1948.
Pedagogues Are Human. An anthology of pupils and teachers, grave and gay, from British and American fiction, biography, diaries, letters and verse, ed. and with an introduction and notes by R. L. Megroz. London, Rockliff, 1950.

Others (ghosted)
How to Play Snooker by Stanley Newman [with C. D. Dimsdale]. London, Sir I. Pitman & Sons, 1936.
Billiards and Snooker for Amateur Players by Horace Lindrum [with C. D. Dimsdale]. Harmondsworth, Penguin Books (119), 1937.

(* Who'da thought it, eh? So far we've had literary critics, radio scriptwriters, popular historical and crime novelists, prize-winning essayists, horror story anthologists... and all tucked away anonymously in a run of a single children's annual. Makes you wonder who else we're going to discover amongst the rest of the names.)

Harry Deverson

Another Swift Annual author...

Harry [Henry James] Deverson was born in Bromley in 1908, the son of Arthur Charles Deverson (a house painter) and his wife Kate Norah O'Malley (nee Dinnie). Raised in Sidcup, he was the one-time picture editor of Picture Post, the famous Hulton weekly (which, I would suppose was his connection with Swift Annual, to which he contributed in 1957). Deverson worked with the Photographic Division of the Ministry of Information during the war and was effectively the chief censor as most war pictures passed through his hands. He subsequently became picture editor for The Sunday Times before becoming managing editor of Wolfe Publishing. His other comic credits include 'Joanna of Bitter Creek' for Junior Express (1955).

Deverson died in Hampstead, London, at the age of 63 on 18 September 1972 after a long illness. His obituary in The Times (21 September 1972) claimed "He deservedly earned the profound respect of all printers with whom he dealt, both for his marvellous layouts and for his ability to anticipate any difficulty that might arise. During his time in Fleet Street he was a kind and helpful advisor of young photographers, including Lord Snowdon. Many owe their subsequent success to his encouragement... A warm and kind person, interested in everyone he met, he won the affection of all who knew him and he will be greatly missed."

He was married to Evelyn Ruby Simons in 1938 with whom he had one child.

The Map That Came to Life, illus. Ronald Lampitt. London, Oxford University Press, 1948.
The Open Road, illus. Ronald Lampitt. London, Oxford University Press, 1962.

The Long Path, with Jo Bass. Bournville, Cadbury, 1957.
The Story of Bread, illus. Ronald Lampitt. Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, in association with Ranks Hovis McDougall (Puffin Picture Book 119), 1964.
The London Walkabout Vol.1, with Guy Gravett. London, Wolfe Publishing, 1966.
Poodles, illus. Sheila Harrison with additional poodle portfolio by Wolfgang Suschitzky. London, Wolfe Publishing, 1966.

Mainly for Children, ed. H. J. Deverson. London, Sunday Times, 2 vols., 1960-62.
Journey Into Night, ed. H. J. Deverson. London, Leslie Frewin, 1966.
Michael Bentine's Book of Square Games, by Michael Bentine; illus. Derek Alder; designed by H. J. Deverson. London, Wolfe Publishing, Jun 1966.

Best of the Best

There have been over half a dozen books released in the wake of last year's The Best of Jackie and I thought it might be fun to see how they're doing. So the following Top 8 is compiled from sales rankings at I've also compiled a quick list for various D. C. Thomson related annuals

Best of Compilations
The Best of Smash Hits (Little, Brown, 12 Oct 2006, ISBN 031602709-X) 118
The Dirty Dozen (Commando) (Carlton Books, 7 Nov 2005, ISBN 184442307-7) 1,454
True Brit (Commando) (Carlton Books, 16 Oct 2006, ISBN 184442121-X) 1,596
The Best of Jackie Annual (Prion Books, 4 Sep 2006, ISBN 185375-608-3) 2,175
The Best of Jackie (Prion Books, 17 Oct 2005, ISBN 185375-586-9) 3,236
The Best of My Guy (Robson Books, 28 Sep 2006, ISBN 186105979-5) 8,458
The Best of Girl (Prion Books, 2 Oct 2006, ISBN 185375-611-3) 10,140
Jackie: Dear Cathy & Claire (Prion Books, 2 Oct 2006 ISBN 185375-603-2) 14,666

The Beano Annual 2007 (D. C. Thomson, 6 Sep 2006, ISBN 184535152-1) 149
The Dandy Annual 2007 (D. C. Thomson, 6 Sep 2006, ISBN 184535151-7) 833
The Broons (Facsimile Edition of the first Broons annual) (Aurum Press, 25 Oct 2006, ISBN 184513214-9) 1,483
Oor Wullie (D. C. Thomson, 6 Sep 2006, ISBN 184535150-9) 1,838
Dennis the Menace & Gnasher Annual 2007 (D . C. Thomson, 6 Sep 2006, ISBN 184535156-8) 2,694
The Dandy Monster Comic (Facsimile of the first Dandy annual) (Aurum Press, 25 Oct 2006, ISBN 184513217-3) 6,736
The Bash Street Kids Annual 2007 (D. C. Thomson, 6 Sep 2006, ISBN 184535160-6) 7,173
Sixty Years of The Beano and The Dandy: The Seventies Selection (D. C. Thomson, 6 Sep 2006, ISBN 184535159-2) 17, 210
The Broons and Oor Wullie: The Early Years 1936-1946 (D. C. Thomson, 6 Sep 2006, ISBN 184535162-2) 27,333

Comic reference
Great British Comics (Aurum Press, 26 Oct 2006, ISBN 184513170-3) 39.019

Annuals have always been major sellers for D. C. Thomson, with The Beano Annual regularly selling a quarter of a million copies. I've not been able to locate precise figures but I do have some (very rough) figures from a few years ago:

2002 (sales to 09 Feb 2002) 205,592 (Beano) 95,700 (Dandy)
2003 (sales to 22 Feb 2003) 256,251 (Beano)
2004 (sales to 13 Dec 2003) 175,942 (Beano) 82,636 (Dandy)

The value of the annuals to the Thomson imprint was put at £2.3 million in 2003 (The Bookseller, 21 March 2003), although that included titles like The Friendship Book and People's Friend. The Annual was seen as pretty much a dead duck a couple of decades ago
and, although the sales are nowhere as great as they used to be, sales are definitely up, with sales in 2004 topping 2 million.

Sam Harrison, Waterstone's children's buyer and analyst, was quoted as saying "The resurgence we have seen in the popularity of annuals in recent years has been due to a shift in the drivers behind the market." (The Guardian, 24 December 2005)

Hate to disagree with Mr. Harrison but the 'drivers' he was referring to were merchandising spin-offs like Bratz Annual and Star Wars Annual which made up the top 3 sellers in 2005 (along with The Beano which still retained its number one position). As any fule kno, spin off annuals were huge sellers in the 1950s and 1960s, with almost every television programme on the box seeming to generate an annual. Things started to die down in the 1970s, although Brown Watson, Granddreams and World International continued to keep the spin-off annual alive. By the 1980s, the kind of annuals we all remembered as kids had pretty much died out.

Why? Well, the traditional annuals (spinning off from weekly comic titles) died out because the comics died out. By 1984, IPC were only publishing a handful of annuals where, twenty years earlier, they were pumping out 50 annuals a year. A comic could have been dead for some years before the annual finally ceased as the company tried to maintain a quota.

As for licensed properties, I can only guess, but that guess would be greed. The success of some annuals probably meant that the expectations of licensers was inflated and they wanted more up front or a higher percentage of the takings. Publishers became more choosy or were forced to spend more on less product. But they never actually died out completely.

Another reason for the diminishing numbers was a change in how annuals were sold. I'm old enough to remember annuals on the shelves of newsagents, which is something you don't see now. Back in the days of massive sales, companies like Fleetway could afford to put out annuals on a sale-or-return (SOR) basis, so newsagents would only pay for copies they sold and unsold copies would be returned. At some point this changed to firm sale. If a newsagent bought 10 annuals and only sold half of them, he was stuck with five annuals he had to pay for, wiping out any profits he made on the other five. So people became more cautious and ordered less copies of fewer titles. That's also why any challenger to the Beano crown is likely to come from a spin-off that happens to be hugely popular that year, be it the Barbie Annual or Bratz.

So, here we are in 2006 (or 2007 if you go by the cover date of this year's annuals). Last year there were at least 35 children's annuals released (and you can find a very good cover gallery for 2006 at Tony's Trading Gallery website) and at least 32 have been released this year. I've only just thought about this so I've not been tracking sales figures. However, I did find The Bookseller Top 50 for 7 October 2006, with The Beano Annual having been on sale for a full month, at it was nestling at #37 (up from #57). Some way ahead was Doctor Who: The Official Annual at #15 (up from #31), published by Penguin. Figures for week ending 14 October still have Doctor Who out front. Cue more articles about this new phenomenon of TV related spin-offs saving the annnuals market?

My favourite bit of news relating to annuals comes care of John Freeman's news column Down the Tubes (22 August 2006): 'Billy the Cat' will be returning in The Beano Annual 2008, written by Kev F. Sutherland and drawn by Nigel Dobbyn. The story was originally intended to appear in the weekly but was expanded to 10 pages and moved to the annual. And Dobbyn is already lined up to do a follow-up featuring a Victorian Billy the Cat for the 2009 edition. It looks like D. C. Thomson are confident that their Beano Annual will continue selling for at least a couple more years.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Hank Janson on Midsomer Murders

Post number 50 according to Blogger. Frankly, I'm amazed, although a lot of them have been pretty short and dashed out at the end of the day. It's quite theraputic as a lot of what I've been doing over the past few months has involved long-term projects which don't have any end in sight. Banging out a quick entry here usually means 20 minutes digging and maybe 20 minutes organising what information I've dug up. Beginning, middle and end. Or open ended, as I'm always hopeful that someone will stumble across these notes and be able to add something to them.

So, I was wondering what to write about for the momentous occasion of episode 50 and the subject fell in my lap. I was watching an episode of Midsomer Murders -- ITV have been repeating them at lunchtime -- and today I was watching an episode entitled 'Blue Herring' which opens in an old people's residential home. Someone is looking through some old books and, just visible in the corner of the screen is a Hank Janson! The title wasn't shown but those legs were unmistakable: it was a copy of Situation--Grave!, published by Alexander Moring in 1958 -- actually a reprint of Sweetheart, Here's Your Grave! from 1949 (one of the two books from the original run to have covers by someone other than Heade).

The other books in the shot included hardcover editions of Faked Passports by Dennis Wheatley, The Beckening Hand by Margery Allingham and two Saint novels by Leslie Charteris, both Hodder & Stoughton Yellowbacks including Call for the Saint (C78, 1953) and one I couldn't quite make out. A few other books turn up over the course of the episode, although I didn't make a list.

Hank Janson is one of my many obsessions. I was lucky enough to correspond with the creator of Hank, Stephen D. Frances, and, a few years ago, wrote a biography all about Steve F. and Hank J., The Trials of Hank Janson which, if you don't have a copy (shame on you!) is still available from Telos Publishing. (You can find the book in their 'Crime Fiction' section for a mere £12.99.) Telos also reprinted 12 of the original novels and I put together an anthology collecting a number of shorter Hank Janson stories, When Dames Get Tough, which has an absolutely classic Heade 'brawling dames' cover, well worth the price alone.

Some random news:
  • I've just seen the first proofs for the introduction of the next volume, Trigan Empire--The Collection, The Reign of Thara which contains two of my favourite Trigan yarns, 'The Reign of Thara' and 'The Invasion of Bolus' from 1967-68, plus a neat little yarn called 'The Alien Invasion'. Superb artwork from Don Lawrence as always. If you're a Don Lawrence/Trigan completist, make sure you subscribe to The Best of Look and Learn as we will be running episodes of Trigan Empire as part of the line-up. We're gearing up for the launch of the magazine: the first mailing (including a facsimile of the very first issue of Look and Learn plus the free gift that accompanied it) goes out in December and issue 1 follows on 9 January 2007 and then twice a month for the next two years. We're limiting the Best of to 48 issues at present, although there's plenty more material for a second series. And if The Best of Look and Learn goes well, who knows: The Best of Ranger, The Best of Playhour, The Best of Treasure... we have plenty of options.

(* The Radio Manchester interview almost collapsed again. The last time we tried this they set up a link with BBC Essex in Chelmsford rather than the Colchester studio I was sitting in. We rescheduled for Monday (16th) at 10.30. I arrived on the dot, only to find the doors locked, the studio in complete darkness and nobody around. After hammering on the door for five minutes I decided to phone the Manchester studio to let them know there was... a... slight... problem!

(Which is how I found myself in the offices of a neighbouring chartered accountants trying to explain why the interview might be off for a second time. A few frantic phonecalls flew between stations and we eventually found out that the engineer who was supposed to be in the studio was off sick and a replacement was on his way. I raced back to the studio and into the booth and we were all set to broadcast when the phone in the studio started ringing. I'm waving frantically at the engineer (who was changing his clothes) through the window and trying to listen to what's happening on Radio Manchester through the headphones; eventually I gave up and went out to the office to warn him about the phone. He comes racing in and rips out the phone line just as I was being introduced.

(Everything went smoothly after that! It was actually a very pleasant interview (thanks to Eamonn O'Neal and Dianne Oxberry who are the presenters) and hopefully nobody noticed any of the panic that we'd just gone through. I got in a good plug for the Look and Learn web site. I'm pleased to see we're getting quite a few entries in our kid's art competition. If you're reading this and you have a child aged between 5 and 14, get them drawing. It's free to enter and you could win a prize.

(I'm hopeful that there will be some more good news about some other Look and Learn related publishing soon, although the publishing world tends to move with glacial slowness. We don't have a date for Look and Learn: A History of the Classic Children's Magazine, although I'm hopeful that it might be out early next year around the same time as Fleetway Picture Libraries Vol.1: The War Libraries. The titles might not be terribly exciting but they do just what they say on the tin!

(Enough of this rambling. What do you expect at 1 o'clock in the morning? Something that makes sense?)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Gerald Bullett

Gerald William Bullett was born in Forest Hill, on 30 December 1893, the third son of businessman Robert Bullett and his wife Ellen (nee Pegg), who had married in Blaby, Leicestershire, in 1883. The Bulletts lived in modest circumstances in suburban London and Gerald was privately educated before becoming a bank clerk at the age of 16. His first novel was written at the age of 20 but not published until 1916, after the appearance of a book of verse, by which time he was serving with the armed forces. After four years in France and Egypt he was able to attend Jesus College, Cambridge, graduating with first class honours in 1921. He became a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and other magazines, writing dozens of short stories and essays, poems and novels over the next few years.

Bullet himself wrote, in World Authors 1900-1950, that "his published works fall naturally into two groups, the dividing line being the Second World War, during which he worked in an oversees section of the British Broadcasting Corporation. The best-known novels in the earlier group are The Pandervils and The Jury. Since the war he has published six more novels, a biography of George Eliot, a study of The English Mystics and three small volumes of verse of which the latest is News from the Village. In addition to writing, he has done a good deal of broadcasting, of book talks and his own short stories... He is a member of the selection committee of the Book Society (England), founded by Alan Bott and Hugh Walpole."

Bullett's novels were well received in their time, Conrad Aiken and V. S. Pritchett being amongst Bullett's admirors. His novel, The Jury, telling the trial of Roderick Strood who is accused of killing his wife, was reprinted as one of the fifty classics of crime fiction published by Garland in 1976.

Storm Jameson, writing in the introduction to Ten-Minute Tales, said: "His instinct as a writer was the poet's, to compress a complexity of emotional experience into a single precise image. This is almost the antithesis of the novelist's instinct: at its greatest the novel is diffuse, it acts out all the intricacies of a human relationship or impulse where the poet concentrates them in the fewest most significant words. Gerald was far from being witout ingenuity and inventiveness -- you only have to read The Jury to see how much of these novelist's virtues he had -- but he was incapable of that slight falsification, that touch of the grotesque got by exaggerating the great commonplaces of human nature, which is one, perhaps the most important, element of success as a novelist. The characters of his novels, from the Pandervil family with which he began to the Peacocks who were inhabiting his brain when he died, are treated with a touch of reserve, as he treated his friends. No malice, not a trace."

Bullett's obituary in The Times (6 January 1958) echoes Jameson's view that Bullett had received less recognition as a novelist than he was perhaps due because he was an undemonstrative and unfashionably restrained talent.

As well as being an author, anthologist, critic and poet, Bullett was also a part-founder of the short-lived publishing firm of Gerald Howe Ltd. with his friend Garfield Howe.

Bullet died at a hospital in Chichester on 3 January 1958. He had married Rosalind Gould in 1921 with whom he had a daughter.

The Progress of Kay. A series of glimpses. London, Constable & Co., 1916.
Mr. Godly Beside Himself. London, John Lane, 1924.
The Panther. London, W. Heinemann Ltd., 1926.
The Spanish Caravel, illus. Laurence Irving. London, W. Heinemann Ltd., 1927; as The Happy Mariners, illus. C. Walter Hodges, London, Dent, 1935.
The History of Egg Pandervil. A pure fiction. London, W. Heinemann Ltd., 1928.
Nicky, Son of Egg. London, W. Heinemann Ltd., 1929.
Marden Fee. London, William Heinemann, 1931.
Remember Mrs. Munch, illus. Haydn Mackey. London, William Heinemann, 1931.
I'll Tell You Everything. A frolic, with J. B. Priestley. London, William Heinemann, 1933.
The Quick and the Dead, illus. T. L.. Poulton. London, William Heinemann, 1933.
Eden River. London, William Heinemann, 1934.
The Jury. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1935; revised, London, Pan Books (GP65), 1957.
The Snare of the Fowler. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1936.
The Bending Sickle. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1938.
A Man of Forty. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1940.
When the Cat's Away. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1940.
The Elderbrook Brothers. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1945.
Judgement in Suspense. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1946.
Men at High Table & The House of Strangers. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1948.
Cricket in Heaven. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1949.
The Trouble at Number Seven. London, Michael Joseph, 1952.
The Alderman's Son. London, Michael Joseph, 1954.
One Man's Poison. London, Chatto & Windus, 1956.
The Daughters of Mrs. Peacock. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1957.
The Peacock Brides. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1958.

The Pandervils: Egg & Nicky (contains The History of Egg Pandervil and Nicky, Son of Egg). London, Heinemann, 1930; new and revised edition, London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1943.

The Street of the Eye, and nine other tales. London, John Lane, 1923.
The Baker's Cart, and other tales. London, John Lane, 1925.
The World in Bud. Tales. London, W. Heinemann Ltd., 1928.
Gerald Bullett (Short Stories of To-day and Yesterday). London, George G. Harrap, 1929.
Helen's Lovers, and other tales. London, William Heinemann, 1932.
Twenty-Four Tales. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1938.
Selected Stories. Dublin, M. Fridberg, 1947.
Ten-Minute Tales, and some others, foreword by Storm Jameson. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1959.
The Enchanting Moment & The Moment of Disenchantment. Collected supernatural tales. Portland, ME, Thomas Loring & Co., (forthcoming).

Dreams o' Mine, introduction by S. Gertrude Ford. London, Erskine Macdonald, Sep 1915.
Mice, & other poems, with a general note by Sir Arthur Quiller Couch. Cambridge, Perkin Warbeck, Jan 1921.
Madonna and Child. A carol (music score), with music by Eric H. Thiman. London, Chappell & Co., 1930.
The Bubble. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1934.
White Frost. Bognor Regis, privately printed by James Guthrie at the Pear Tree Press, 1936.
Poems in Pencil. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1937.
Litany: TTBB (music score), Schubert, arranged by J. Michael Diack. London, Paterson's Publications, 1938.
Winter Solstice. Cambridge, The University Press, 1943.
The Golden Year of Fan Cheng-ta. A Chinese rural sequence, rendered into English verse by Gerald Bullett, with notes and calligraphic decorations by Tsui Chi. Cambridge, The University Press, 1946; as Five Seasons of a Golden Year. A Chinese pastoral by Fan Ch'eng-ta, translated by Gerald Bullet, with calligraphy of T. C. Lai, Hong Kong, Chinese University Press, 1980.
Poems. Cambridge, The University Press, 1949.
News from the Village. Cambridge, The University Press, 1952.
Windows on a Vanished Time. London, Michael Joseph, 1955.
Collected Poems, selected by E. M. W. Tillyard. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1959.
We Saw Him Sleeping (music score), music by Ernest Bullock. London, Novello & Co., 1961.

The Innocence of G. K. Chesterton. London, C. Palmer, 1923.
Students' Notes to An Anthology of Modern Verse by Sir A. M. M. Methuen. London, Methuen & Co., 1925.
Modern English Fiction: A Personal View. London, H. Jenkins Ltd., 1926.
Dreaming, edited by J. B. Priestley. London, Jarrolds, 1928.
Germany, with a chapter on German tourism and mountaineering by E. T. & E. Harrison Compton. London, A. & C. Black Ltd., 1930.
Problems of Religion. London, W. Heinemann, 1938.
Achievements in Feeding Britain. London, Pilot Press, 1944.
George Eliot: Her Life and Books. London, Collins, 1947.
The English Mystics. London, Michael Joseph, 1950.
Sydney Smith: A biography and a selection. London, Michael Joseph, 1951.

Walt Whitman: A study and a selection. London, G. Richards Ltd., 1924.
Seeds of Israel. Tales from the English Bible, edited, with introduction, by Gerald Bullett; with woodcuts by Helen Kapp. London, G. Howe, 1927.
Middlemarch by George Eliot, introduction by Gerald Bullett. London, Dent, 1930; New York, E. P. Dutton, 1930.
The Fothergill Omnibus. For which eighteen eminent authors have written short stories upon one and the same plot, with introductions by John Forthergill, R. G. Collingwood & Gerald Gould. London, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1931.
The How-&-Why Series, ed. Gerald Bullett. London, A. & C. Black, 20 vols., 1931-45.
The Testement of Light. An anthology, ed. Gerald Bullett. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1932.
The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems, ed. Gerald Bullett. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1933.
The Pattern of Courtesy. An anthology continuing The Testement of Light, ed. Gerald Bullett. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1934; as The Testament of Light Second Series, London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1938.
The Story of English Literature. London, A. & C. Black (How & Why series 20), 1935.
A Book of Good Faith. A miscellany of passages, chosen and arranged by Gerald Bullett. London, Watts & Co. (Thinker's Library 66), 1938.
The Fair Haven by Samuel Butler, with an introduction by Gerald Bullett. London, Watts & Co. (Thinker's Library 70), 1938.
A Candidate for Truth. Passages from Emerson, chosen and arranged by Gerald Bullett. London, Watts & Co. (Thinker's Library 71), 1938.
The Phoenix and Turtle by William Shakespeare, ed. with introduction by Gerald Bullett. Flansham, Bognor Regis, Pear Tree Books, 1938.
What is Happiness? by Martin Armstrong, Gerald Bullett [and others]. London, 1938.
The Jackdaw's Nest. A fivefold anthology, ed. Gerald Bullett. London, Macmillan & Co., 1939.
Poems by John Keats, edited with an introduction by Gerald Bullett. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1944; New York, E. P. Dutton & Co., 1944.
Readings in English Literature, from Chaucer to Matthew, chosen and ed. by Gerald Bullett. London, A. & C. Black, 1945.
Silver Poets of the Sixteenth Century, ed. with an introduction by Gerald Bullett. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1947; New York, E. P. Dutton, 1947.
The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot, with an introduction by Gerald Bullett. London, Collins, 1952.

Mr. Godly Beside Himself. A comedy in four acts (produced 1926). London, Ernest Benn, 1926.
Scandal in Assyria, by Axel Kjellstrom, adapted by Gerald Bullett (produced 1939).

(* A longish piece inspired by a single contribution to Swift Annual 3 (1956). Bullett did, however, write a charming children's book, The Spanish Caravel (1927), later reissued as The Happy Mariners and, later still, adapted as a radio play by John Kier Cross and broadcast in the Children's Hour in January 1942 under the title The Ship in the Bottle. The story involves a desert island and buccaneers.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ernest Dudley

Last one tonight.

E. Coltman was the author of a story in Swift Annual 7 (1960) and I struggled for a while trying to remember where I knew the name Coltman from. Took a while before it came to me... Ernest Coltman was one of the names used by author Ernest Dudley, real name Vivien Ernest Coltman Allen, born in Dudley, near Wolverhampton, on 23 July 1908.

Ernest was a regular visitor to the London book fairs. I think the first time I met him he was already in his nineties, although you wouldn't have guessed; although he used a walking stick he walked bolt upright without any sign of infirmity; it was some years since he ran the London Marathon (which he did five times, as well as the New York Marathon) but you got the feeling that he'd do it again at the drop of a hat. He was chatty, he smiled easily and had no pretentions.

Sadly, Ernest died last February at the age of 97. Some very good obituaries appeared in the newspapers soon after so I need not repeat the basics of Ernest's life -- just take a look at the obits in The Times, The Independent (via, The Guardian and The Stage.

Through his attendance of various book fairs, Ernest met Phil Harbottle who was able to get some of his novels back into print through Wildside Press, with covers by Sam Peffer (himself in his eighties). The first was Alibi and Dr. Morelle and I was more than pleased to have a copy signed by both Ernest and 'Peff' a couple of years ago.

Apart from creating the ascerbic Dr Morelle, Ernest was one of the few living Sexton Blake authors, having prenned two stories for Detective Weekly in March 1939 in which Blake co-starred with Syd Walker, one of the stars of the radio show Mr. Walker Wants to Know. Syd, played by Gordon Crier, was a genial Cockney rag and bone man, pushing his "barrer" around the streets of London and regailing listeners with mysterious crime yarns which would come to a seemingly insoluble predicament when Syd would ask, "What would you do, chums?" That catchphrase became the title ('What Would You Do?') of a second Blake yarn a few weeks after the first and the two stories were revamped to become Ernest's first novel, Mr. Walker Wants to Know (1939).

Ernest also wrote the first Sexton Blake radio play, Enter Sexton Blake, starring George Curzon, which ran for 12 episodes between 26 January and 13 April 1939. The show was based on a story, 'Three Frightened Men' by Berkeley Gray (Edwy Searles Brooks), originally published in the Sexton Blake Library in 1938 and subsequently serialised (as 'Enter Sexton Blake') in Detective Weekly to coincide with the run on radio.

Ernest was also the star of comic strips in the 1950s. In 1942 he starred as 'The Armchair Detective' in his own radio series which mixed reviews with dramatised chapters of the latest novels and discussions of real life crimes. The show became a 1951 film (starring Ernest himself) and a variety hall tour with Ernest solving mysteries between various acts; it also inspired a newspaper column in the Daily Express (illustrated by Carl Giles) and a series of five comic books in the Super Detective Library (1953-55), drawn by Reg Bunn and W. Bryce Hamilton.

The photo shows Ernest in conversation with Maurice Flanagan and was taken by me at the Paperback Book Fair in Victoria, London, in October 2003.

B. Christie-Murray

Updated: 27 March 2010: Thanks to Alison Christian, I can confirm that B. Christie-Murray is Elizabeth. More information below the original text.

More from the pages of Swift Annual...

One credit in Swift Annual 7 (1960) reads simply B. Christie-Murray and I'm going to take a stab in the dark here... I think the B is short for Betty and the author is one Elizabeth Christie Murray who is credited with a book of poems, When Soft Voices Die, published in Harrow-on-the-Hill in 1967.

The combination of names makes me wonder if she is related to David Christie-Murray. Or, rather, the two David Christie-Murrays as there seems to be more than one. I found a profile of one David Christie Murray (13 April 1847-1 August 1907) here which discusses a journalist and novelist of that name, best known for his war correspondence on the Russo-Turkish war in 1877-78 and as the author of Joseph's Coat (1881), Val Strange (1882) and Aunt Rachel (1886). Allan Hubin's Crime Fiction Bibliography lists over 50 titles some of which can be found as free e-books online (e.g. Aunt Rachel, In Direst Peril and Joseph's Coat). He doesn't seem to be directly related to...

The Rev. David Hugh Arthur Christie-Murray (12 July 1913- ), author of books about theological and paranormal subjects whose first book, Heraldry in the Churches of Beckenham appeared in 1954 but who became rather more prolific in the 1960s, some of his heraldry books being illustrated by Dan Escott of Look and Learn fame.

Wild stabs in the dark, of course, but that's where most research of this type starts...

Updated: 27 March 2010

As well as the helpful comments to the original post, I've also heard from Alison Christian with the sad news that her father, David Christie-Murray, died on 20 March 2010. As well as being a writer himself, he was the grandson of the Victorian David Christie-Murray, which is why I stumbled when it came to finding a direct link between the two. David Christie-Murray (1847-1907) had four children, two sons and two daughters. The eldest son was Dudley Murray (1893-1924) who married Miriam Violet Hume in 1912. He died of wounds received in the Battle of the Somme; it was some years before he succumbed to them, eventually dying abroad in 1924 at the age of 31.

David Hugh Arthur Christie-Murray (1913-2010) was their son, born in London and was married in 1942 to Ena Louise Elizabeth Mumford, known to her family as Betty, hence the B. Christie-Murray byline. She was born in circa 1915, the daughter of Dr Edward Rainsford Mumford. She died on 13 January 1967, aged 52.

David Christie-Murray has a few interesting sidelights which are worth mentioning. He was the author of A History of Heresy (New English Library, 1976) and a contributor to The Unexplained, the part-work published by Orbis in 1980-83, as well as writing books and articles on heraldry, the Bible, reincarnation and astrology under his own name and the pen names Hugh Arthur and Hugh Christie.

Allison would be interested in getting in touch with the ladies who left comments as they must be distant cousins, so if Penelope, victoriamarie or Judith are reading, perhaps you could drop me a note to my e-mail address (top left, below the photo).

Sybil Burr

Another quickie...

Sybil (Edith) Burr was born 13 October 1909. She was a fairly prolific author of girls' stories in the 1950s but doesn't seem to have written much beyond 1960. She is best known for her book Life with Lisa, the fictional diary of a 12-year-old girl whose vivid account and comments on her neighbours and surroundings was later reprinted by Puffin Books (1979) and adapted for Radio 4 in 2003 (five episodes, 8 September-12 September) with Victoria O'Donnell as Lisa. Lisa subsequently appeared in a sequel, Leave It To Lisa. [Lisa may have begun life some years earlier in short stories in annuals, e.g. 'Lisa Loses Her Hat', Daily Mail Annual for Girls 1953, 1952.]

Sybil Burr contributed to various annuals (Collins Girls' Annual, Girls' Own Book, etc.) in the 1950s, including Swift Annual 1 (1954).

Sybil Burr died in Greenwich, London, in 2002, aged 92.

Lantern of the North, illus. Sheila Rose. London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1954.
My Candle the Moon, illus. Sheila Rose. London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1955.
The Saint Bride Blue, illus. Leslie Atkinson. London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1956; as Highland Fling, Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1957.
Full Fathom Forty, illus. Leslie Atkinson. London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1957.
Life With Lisa. London, John Murray, 1958.
Leave It To Lisa. London, John Murray, 1960.
Operation Blindbell. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1960.

Brian Brason

Brian Brason, a regular contributor to Swift Annual, writing anonymously for volumes 3 through 8 (1956-61). Unfortunately, I've no clue as to what he wrote. Brason was possibly the author of a single booklet, The Story of Port Sunlight (Port Sunlight, Lever Brothers, 1953), a heavily illustrated history of Lever Brothers/Unilever's research and development department at Port Sunlight, on the Wirral between Chester and Liverpool.

The only Brian Brason I've been able to trace in geneological records (although I've only done a brief search) is Brian Luke Brason (b. 18 August 1920, d. 31 December 1983, aged 63, in Aylesbury, Bucks.). Brian Luke Brason lived in North Harrow in the 1950s and 1960s. The surname Brason is rather uncommon, so there's a good chance the Swift Annual author and Brian Luke Brason are one and the same.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Richard Bowood (Albert Scott Daniell)

Richard Bowood contributed to Swift Annual 7 and 8 (1960-61) as well as the weekly Swift, where he wrote at least two serials, 'Journey Into Danger' (1960) and (anonymously) 'Aztec Gold' (1960).

Richard Bowood was the pseudonym of Albert Scott Daniell. Daniell was born in London on 1 July 1906 and attended Bedford Modern School. His first novel, Young English by A. Scott Daniell, was published in 1931, a lively account of an ordinary boy's four years at school. Daniell was, however, better know as David Scott Daniell under which name he became a very prolific writer for radio. He adapted 'The Boy Pretender' by Lambert Simnel as King Takes Pawn for radio (1937) and produced a play about Simnel, The Boy They Made King (1937) which he subsequently turned into a book. Other radio plays include Night Freight (1938), Ursula Gets Her Dog (1938), a 4-part 'Children's Hour' series about the escape of King Charles (1939), The Queen and Mr. Shakespeare (1940), The Good Mrs. Ankerdyne (1954)... in all, Daniell wrote a total of over 600 scripts for radio and television for both children and adults as well as contributing to newspapers and magazines.

In 1940, Daniell published his first novel as David Scott Daniell, Mornings at Seven and quickly followed it with a second, The Time of the Singing. His career as a novelist, however, was interrupted by World War II; Daniell joined the Royal Engineers and served in Sicily and Italy (mentioned in dispatches), rising to the rank of Captain.

Returning to civilian life, Daniell's next novel, Nicholas Wilde appeared in 1948. A year later he produced his first non-fiction title, Children's Theatre Plays, illustrated by Elizabeth Thirlby (actually Elizabeth Daniell, as Elizabeth Mary Thirlby had married Daniell on 3 June 1939; the two had a son, Richard John Scott Daniell).

Daniell thereon produced a mixture of military history, novels and non-fiction, including many volumes for Ladybird Books. As well as his continuing output for radio and television, Daniell also penned an adaptation of his novel By Jiminy for the Children's Film Foundation.

Daniell lived at The Forge, Bowood, near Bridport, Dorset, and died at Dorset County Hospital on 29 August 1965.

A number of his books remain in print, one, Cap of Honour, updated by General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley and others in 1975 and reprinted as recently as 2005.

Novels as David Scott Daniell (except where noted)
Young English. The story of a schoolboy (as A. Scott Daniell). London, Jonathan Cape, 1931.
Mornings at Seven. London, Jonathan Cape, 1940.
The Time of the Singing. London, Jonathan Cape, 1941.
Nicholas Wilde. London, Jonathan Cape, 1948.
Mission for Oliver, illus. William Stobbs. London, Jonathan Cape, 1953.
Polly and Oliver, illus. William Stobbs. London, Jonathan Cape, 1954.
The Dragon and the Rose, illus. Sheila Stratton. London, Jonathan Cape, 1955.
Hunt Royal, illus. William Stobbs. London, Jonathan Cape, 1958.
Hideaway Johnny, illus. Val Biro. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1959.
Fifty Pounds for a Dead Parson. London, Jonathan Cape, 1960.
The Golden Pomegranate, illus. George Adamson. London, University of London Press, 1960.
Polly and Oliver at Sea, illus. William Stobbs. London, Jonathan Cape, 1960; as The Rajah's Treasure, New York, Duell, Sloan & Pearce, 1960.
By Jiminy, illus. D. G. Valentine. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1962.
Sandro's Battle, illus. Colin Spencer. London, Jonathan Cape, 1962.
Polly and Oliver Besiged, illus. William Stobbs. London, Jonathan Cape, 1963.
Saved by Jiminy, illus. D. G. Valentine. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1963.
By Jiminy Ahoy, illus. D. G. Valentine. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1963.
By Jiminy in the Jungle, illus. D. G. Valentine. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1964.
Polly and Oliver Pursued, illus. William Stobbs. London, Jonathan Cape, 1964.
By Jiminy in the Highlands, illus. D. G. Valentine. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1966.

Novels as Richard Bowood
Naples Ahead, illus. David Knight. London, Macmillan & Co., 1964; New York, St. Martin's Press, 1964.
Horsey & Co. and the Bank Robbers, illus. A. Oxenham. London, Golden Pleasure Books, 1965.
Red Gaskell's Gold, illus. Peter Kesteven. London, Macmillan & Co., 1964; New York, St. Martin's Press, 1966.

Non-fiction as David Scott Daniell
Children's Theatre Plays. London, George G. Harrap & Co., 1948.
Cap of Honour: The story of the Gloucestershire Regiment (the 28th/61st Foot) 1694-1950, with material provided by R. M. Grazebrook; with a foreword by the Duke of Gloucester. London, George G. Harrap & Co., 1951.
More Children's Theatre Plays, with a foreword by Bertha Waddell and costume illus. by Elizabeth Thirlby. London, George G. Harrap & Co., 1951.
Costume Plays for Schools, with notes and designs for costumes by Elizabeth Thirlby. London, George G. Harrap & Co., 1955.
Regimental History: The Royal Hampshire Regiment, Vol. III: 1918-54. Aldershot, Gale & Polden, 1955.
History of the East Surrey Regiment, Vol. IV: 1920-1952. London, Ernest Benn, 1957.
Flight One: Australia, illus. Jack Matthew. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1958.
4th Hussar: The story of the 4th Queen's Own Hussars, 1685-1958. Aldershot, Gale & Polden, 1959.
The Boy They Made King. A true story for boys and girls, illus. William Stobbs. London, Jonathan Cape, 1959.
Flight Two: Canada, illus. Jack Matthew. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1959.
Flight Three: United States of America, illus. Jack Matthew. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1959.
Flight Four: India, illus. Jack Matthew. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1960.
Battles and Battlefields
, illus. William Stobbs, London, B. T. Batsford, 1961.
Discovering the Bible, with G. W. H. Lampe; illus. Graham Oakley. London, University of London Press, 1961; illus. Steele Savage, Nashville, TN, Abingdon, 1966.
Faith in Our Fathers: The story of Christianity in Britian, with G. W. H. Lampe. London, University of London Press, 1961.
Flight Five: Africa, illus. Jack Matthew. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1961.
Explorers and Exploration, illus. William Stobbs. London, B. T. Batsford, 1962.
Flight Six: The Holy Land, illus. Jack Matthew. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1962.
World War 1: An illustrated history. London, E. Benn, 1965.
Discovering the Army, illus. Crispin Fisher. London, University of London Press, 1965.
Soldiers. London, 1965.
Sea Fights. London, B. T. Batsford, 1966.
World War 2: An illustrated history. London, E. Benn, 1966.
Your Body, illus. Ronald Lampitt. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1967.

Non-fiction as Richard Bowood
The Story of Flight, illus. Robert Ayton. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1960.
Great Inventions, illus. Robert Ayton. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1961.
The Story of Railways, illus. Robert Ayton. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1961.
The Story of Ships, illus. Robert Ayton. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1961.
The Ladybird Book of the Weather, with F. E. Newing; illus. Robert Ayton. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1962.
Light, Mirrors and Lenses, with F. E. Newing; illus. J. H. Wingfield. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1962.
Magnets, Bulbs and Batteries, with F. E. Newing; illus. J. H. Wingfield. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1962.
Air Wind and Flight, with F. E. Newing; illus. J. H. Wingfield. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1963.
Levers, Pulleys and Engines, with F. E. Newing; illus. J. H. Wingfield. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1963.
The Story of Houses and Homes, illus. Robert Ayton. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1963.
The Story of Churches and Cathedrals, illus. Robert Ayton. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1964.
The Story of Clothes and Costume, illus. Robert Ayton. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1964.
Soldiers, Soldiers. London, Paul Hamlyn, 1965.
Animals and How They Live, with F. E. Newing; illus. Ronald Lampitt. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1965.
Plants and How They Grow, with F. E. Newing; illus. Ronald Lampitt. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1965.
Birds and How They Live, with F. E. Newing; illus. Ronald Lampitt. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1966.
Our Land in the Making, illus. Ronald Lampitt.
1: Earliest Times to the Norman Conquest. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1966.
2: Norman Conquest to present day. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1966.
Underwater Exploration, illus. B. Knight. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1967.

Non-fiction as John Lewesdon
The Ladybird Book of London, illus. John Berry. Loughborough, Wills & Hepworth (Ladybird Books), 1961.


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