Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Nancy Catford

Tonights Robin Annual author contributed a single story to Robin Annual no.1 (1953)...

Nancy Catford wrote and illustrated a series of animal books in the tradition of Beatrix Potter in the 1930s. I've been unable to find a year of birth for her but I notice that one of her animal books was written by Barbara Catford (I'm guessing at her being a sister) who, I believe, was born in Hackney, London, in 1903.

A recent eBay auction included an autographed copy of Maurice the Mouse and a copy of Robert the Rabbit inscribed (19 Dec. 1939) "This little book was compiled by Nancy Catford one of our ambulence drivers at Stokes. She has now gone to Hungary to help look after the refugees from Poland."

Miss Nancy Catford lived at 79 Brook Green, London W.6 around 1950-52. Her work seems to come to an end around 1953 but I can find no record of her death (searched 1951-58).

Robert the Rabbit, illus. by the author. London, Frederick Muller, 1934.
Percy the Penguin, illus. by the author. London, Frederick Muller, 1936.
Maurice the Mouse, illus. by the author. London, Frederick Muller, 1937.
Ronnie the Robin, illus. by the author. London, Frederick Muller, 1937.
Sammy the Squirrel, illus. by the author. London, Frederick Muller, 1937.
Dan the Duckling, illus. by the author. London, Frederick Muller, 1938.
Derek the Dragon, illus. by the author. London, Frederick Muller, 1939.
Making Nursery Toys, illus. by the author. London, Frederick Muller, 1944.
Making and Modelling, illus. by the author; edited by Susan French. London, Daily Mail School-Aid Department, 1946.
Making Your Own Party Decorations, illus. by the author. London, Frederick Muller, 1951.
Modelling with Plastics, illus. by the author. London, "Daily Mail" Publications, 1951.

Illustrated Books
Ernest the Elephant by Barbara Catford. London, Frederick Muller, 1935.
Puffins by R. M. Lockley. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1953.


  1. Nancy Catford,s name was Dora born
    1884,she was an Aunt to Barbara
    Blaxhill Catford born 1903
    died 1993 she married Norman Stewart Capper
    Dora /Nancy never married until late in life.I am away from all my records until April for more info
    let me know
    her nephew
    patrick Capper has some of her books,I also have 3 of them
    they are distant cousin of my husband.will contact you later

    Sybil Catford

  2. Many thanks for posting this information, Sybil. Very much appreciated, and if you can add anything further on her life and works that, too, would be very welcome.

  3. Nancy Catford made at least two drawings for greetings cards printed by the Samson Press in the 1930s. I am researching the Press, and will let you know if I come across any more information on her.
    Yours sincerely
    Paul W. Nash

  4. Gray's Pottery, Stoke-on-Trent: Anna Edith (Nancy) Catford.
    Nancy Stone 1905-1992.
    "Nancy, as she was universally known, attended Sidcot School, Somerset, as a boarder where her lifelong interest in art began. After experimenting herself she learned woodcarving from Mr Parker at Letchworth, subsequently attending the School of Woodcarving in South Kensington. In the 1930s she moved to the Staffordshire Potteries where she designed a range of pottery, including toby jugs for Enoch Wedgwood. She also wrote and illustrated a series of six books for children.

    Early in the war her Quaker background led her to join the Friends' Relief Service which involved travelling to refugee camps in Hungary. She then worked for the Nursery School Association, when she demonstrated and wrote about the making of simple toys. In the 1950s she was a regular contributor of illustrated articles to the Daily Mail Annual.

    In 1953 she married Jack Stone and worked with him on various projects, notably the renovation of Portsmouth Guildhall. She continued working independently after his death in 1979. An active member of the Society of Wildlife Artists, she loved wildlife and throughout her life specialised in drawing and carving animals and birds. (Information kindly supplied by nephew John Capper)"

  5. Interesting post. We now seem to have two contenders for the authorship of the books... perhaps Dora Catford was the mother of Anna Edith Catford?

  6. I believe Sybil Catford does not have the right Nancy. My mother visited her with friends in March 1935 and said "She is a well-known sculptress, and some of her work was bought by the Queen at the B.I.F.[?]. She is only about 22, and has done some ripping work. Much of it is grotesque. For instance masques and those wierd long-necked animals. Her stone figures and wood carved models are chiefly animals, and delightful. We spent about 2 hours looking round her studio." Thus she would have been born in or near 1913.
    V. Fettarappa.

  7. Dora was her aunt. Barbara was her sister, and yes, she wrote one of Nancy's books. Nancy (Anna Edith) was born 31st August 1905 and died around 1991 or 2. (She was my great aunt). lambiem at doctors.org.uk

  8. Anna Edith Catford was indeed born 31 August 1905; her death is registered in Surrey Northern in April 1992 under her married name Anna Edith Stone.

  9. Hi all,

    Very interesting blog here. This is the first place I have found with any information about Nancy Catford!

    I have in my possession, two of her books. Dan the Duckling and Maurice the Mouse.

    I have searched online and can not find the valuation for these books at all, and also where I should take them if I was interested in selling as these are rare and 1st edition.

    Any help would be appreciated. Many thanks, Michael

  10. Anonymous of Feb 23...

    I also have a very nice copy of Maurice the Mouse. It doesn't figure on abebooks, which means really quite rare. Not sure if there's a specialist Children's Books who might be interested.

  11. Amazing what you can find in here!! Came across while clearing my mother's house two sculptured bookend that I think are made out of limestone. They are bookends of Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw; and are signed/dated Nancy Catford 1931. Anyone know about this type of work she done in these years? No idea where it came from as we live in Belfast, N.Ireland. Any comments welcomed? Are they valuable? Thanks, Brian

  12. I have a pair of Nancy Catford bookends, one depicting Shakespeare reading Shaw's St. Joan and the other depicting Shaw reading Shakespeare's Hamlet, an ingenious and charming piece, which I bought in England in the late 1970's. It's signed by the artist and dated 1931. According to on line material Catford was modeling earthenware materials around this time. I was surprised to read above that there is another pair on the scene, which may be similar or identical to mine. The bookends would appear to be difficult and/or pricey to reproduce.
    Fritz Callahan



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