Friday, December 22, 2006

Racey Helps

Despite the fact that a Google search for 'Racey Helps' turns up about 24,400 hits there doesn't seem to be one word of biographical information available on the web.

His illustrations were used widely on postcards and card games and Helps was involved with the Medici Society for many years, producing postcards and a series of story-cards (8 page booklets) published by the Medici Society in c.1970. Titles include To Greet You: The Story of the Tea-Kettle House and Christmas Greetings and The Story of the Snow Prince.

Helps was married to Renee (nee Orr) and had at least one son (Julian Racey Helps, b. 1950). I believe he lived in Bristol.

Posters and cards by Racey Helps are still widely available (a quick search will turn up quite a few sites dealing with them).

Update: 6 October 2008
Thanks to a comment left by Gabi I've finally been able to discover something concrete: Racey Helps was born Angus Clifford R. Helps in Bristol on 2 February 1913 and died in early 1971 in Barnstable. He was the son of Clifford R. Helps, who married Dorothy L. Davis in Cardiff in 1911.

OK, it's not much... but it's a start!

Books (written & illus.)
Footprints in the Snow. London, Collins, 1946.
The Upside-Down Medicine. London, Collins, 1946.
Barnaby Camps Out. London, Collins, 1947.
My Friend Wilberforce. London, Collins, 1948.
Barnaby in Search of a House. London, Collins, 1948.
Littlemouse Crusoe. London, Collins, 1948.
Tippetty's Treasure. London, Collins, 1949.
Nobody Loves Me. The story of a Dutch doll. London, Collins, 1950.
Many Happy Returns. London, Collins, 1951.
Barnaby and the Scare-Crow. London, Collins, 1953.
Little Tommy Purr. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1954.
Two from a Tea-Pot. London, Collins, 1954.
Two's Company. London, Collins, 1955.
Barnaby's Spring Clean. London, Collins, 1956.
Prickly Pie. London, Collins, 1957.
The Tail of Hunky Dory. London, Collins, 1958.
Kingcup Cottage. London, Medici Society, 1962.
Diggy Takes His Pick. London, Medici Society, 1964.
The Blow-Away Balloon. Manchester, World Distributors, 1967.
The Clean Sweep. Manchester, World Distributors, 1967.
Pinny Takes a Bath. Manchester, World Distributors, 1967.
Selina the Circus Seal. Philadelphia, Chilton Book, 1967.
Just Wilberforce. London, Medici Society, 1970.
Pinny's Holiday. London, Medici Society, 1970.
Guinea-pig Podge. London, Medici Society, 1971.
Racey Helps' Picture Book, verses by Celia Barrow. London, Medici Society, 1984.

Illustrated Books
My Book of Kittens and Puppies, stories by Ivy Lilian Wallace. London & Glasgow, Collins, 1954.
Animal Alphabet by Helen Wing.
The Marigold Line by Charles Griffiths. London, Collins, 1970.

(* The illustration at the top comes from Swift Annual 4 (1957) and is © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd. A robin... Christmas... I thought it was apt. The second illustration is from a postcard, probably from the Medici Society.)


  1. Thanks for all the great info. I purchased 15 old postcards by Racey Helps and Molly Brett at an estate sale and I was trying to find info on them. I had a lot of trouble finding any bio info about these artists. Their work is still for sale, though....

  2. I have found in my "treasures" a woodland Happy Families by Pepys. Illustrations by Racey Helps but can find only prints and postcards on the net.

  3. I have found amongst my "treasues" a Pepys card game 'Woodland Happy Families' Illustrations by Racey Helps. For info.

  4. My mum and dad met Mr Helps when they were on honeymoon in August 1947 in Watergate Bay Cornwall. Apparently he was there on a mission to attend an auction at a country house but kept it quiet............ he bought a painting for a song which (as he'd suspected) turned out to be a genuine Botticelli worth a considerable amount more.

  5. i have an old copy of footrpints in the snow - really need to get it restored as its falling to bits - does anyone know where i can buy other titles such as the upside down medicine, barnaby camps out etc etc??

  6. I received "Barnaby in search of a house" at the age of three for a sunday school prize. Have treasured this book and had the spine rejuvenated. I have looked for information on this author and illustrator and found very little. His talent is immense. ( Is he still alive?)

  7. Was just looking at LITTLE TOMMY PURR last night and thought then that Racey was a woman...until I FOUND THIS WELCOME INTERNET NOOK! i adore the (man's) work and would love to know more, but how? Also Rene Cloak...any ideas? Love and best, POPPY

  8. Poppy,

    Rene Cloke is covered elsewhere -- try a search in the search box (top left).

  9. Ha! I just googled "Racey Helps"....Neat!

  10. the back cover of one of my old Medici books offers the following details:-
    "Racey Helps was born in 1913, and spent his childhood in Somerset. He was privately educated at a vicarage, and later Bristol Cathedral School. As a young man he went into the antiquarian book trade,and attended the West of England College of Art in Bristol. From the early 1940s his illustrated children's books became increasingly popular, and he continued to write and illustrate up to the end of his life. Many of his animal pictures were published as greetings cards and postcards. He died in 1971."

  11. Whilst hunting for Racey Helps info after a delightful family Christmas spent playing Happy Families, I found his official page maintained by his family.

  12. Racey Helps' family has set up a website
    Happy hunting!

  13. I'm sitting in the Calgary airport waiting for a flight, and googled "Cunningleigh-Sligh", the name of the wicked fox in "Footprints in the Snow". I hadn't thought about it in years. This one one of my very favorite books when I was very young--I remember the illustrations as being quite magical. I'd love to buy the one used copy Amazon UK shows for sale. Maybe I will.

    Tim Keenan

  14. I have a few of Racey Helps's illustrated postcards and find them delightful! Now that I know a bit more about him, I look forward to hunting down some of the children's books he took part in. His eye for small details and vivid colors make the illustrations more interesting, humanistic, and enjoyable.

  15. I've just been bought five first editions from a charity shop:
    The Upside-down medicine;
    Barnaby camps out;
    Littlemouse Crusoe;
    Barnaby in Search of a house;
    My friend Wilberforce.



Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books