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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Kevin McGarry

Kevin McGarry has been a bit of a mystery name for many years to collectors of Gerry Anderson spin-offs. McGarry appeared briefly in the mid-1960s as the author of two Lady Penelope books. Fifteen years ago I wrote a brief piece on John Theydon for the Paperback, Pulp & Comic Collector magazine and I seem to remember thinking it would be nice to follow it up with a piece on some of the other authors who wrote Anderson spin-offs.

Fifteen years on I'm very pleased to present a piece written by Sharri McGarry, Kevin McGarry's daughter. I'd like to thank her for taking the time to write and agreeing to let me publish the piece here at Bear Alley.
My father, Kevin McGarry was born in 1921 in Manchester. He joined the army aged 18, (8th Army Desert Rats), in the army broadcasting services. He made broadcasts to the BBC as a war correspondent under his army nickname of 'Dusty' McGarry.

After being discharged in 1945 he met and married an Irish colleen and worked for BBC Leeds doing freelance scriptwriting, interviews, football reporting etc. Much of his work is in BBC archives.

In 1951 he moved with wife and two children to USA where he worked on the Patriot Ledger newspaper in Quinsey, Boston.

He returned to Manchester in 1958, having added another two children to the merry band of McGarrys, and worked for BBC as freelance, writing radio plays, writing books (scout, guide adventures) and annuals.

During this time he trained and worked as a teacher. And added two more McGarrys to the clan.

In 1971, in the height of The Troubles, he moved to Derry, Northern Ireland with wife and 6 children and worked as a teacher, wanting to record the fascinating stories of the older Irish generation.

Sadly, before this last project was completed, he died in 1975.

I was the 5th of the 6 children. I remember him as a sweet-tempered man, who adored his wife and children. He read to us a lot, inspired a curiosity in us. I remember when he went to interview characters around the country, he would insist on packing the whole family into our big old minibus, Willoughby and taking them along. We must have looked like the hill-billies, endlessly spilling out of the car!

For his birthday every year we children would get him a Mars Bar. Dad would make out that it was the best present he could ever receive. Then he would take a knife and slice it into eight – one piece for each member of the family! That piece was better than any whole Mars Bar I eat today!

His army days had made a big impression on him. He had a mania for polished shoes and woke us up in the morning by blowing the Reveille on an empty toilet roll!

I remember being tucked up in bed one night and Dad called from the bottom of the stairs – "Right kids! Time for evening prayers." In the rooms around me I could hear muted groans as the family stopped what they were doing, clasped their hands together and waited. But instead of a prayer, Dad started singing a favourite army song; "Bully for you! Bully for me! Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah! It’s bully again for tea!"

I remember the joy I felt as we all joined in, roaring out the chorus. I suppose it was as good a prayer as any other, as it bonded us together as a family!

He loved the Irish people and thought them the best characters in the world. When we went to live in Ireland he enjoyed visiting the old people and listening to their gentle stories. He loved their way of talking. Near the end, when my mother went into the hospital ward, he drew her closer.

"What’s a Yit?" he asked seriously.

"A Yit?" she echoed. "I don’t know. Where did you hear it?"

"That nurse over there was talking. She said…" and here he broke into a Belfast accent, "...there’s a woman been brought in with a bullet in her and it’s in her yit!"

Scouting Adventures for Boys
1: Lone Wolf
. London & Manchester, World Distributors, 1964.
2: The Hurricane Hunters
. London & Manchester, World Distributors, 1964.
Girl Guide Adventure
1: The Monkey Puzzle. London & Manchester, World Distributors, 1965.
2: Blue Goose East
. London & Manchester, World Distributors, 1965.
Lady Penelope: The Gallery of Thieves
. London, World Distributors, 1966.
Lady Penelope: Cool for Danger
. London, World Distributors, 1966.

Novels as Julie Bonner

Brownie Adventure Book
1: A Pack of Trouble. London, World Distributors, 1964.

2: The Fix-It Six
. London, World Distributors, 1964.


The Man From UNCLE Annual
, with others. World Distributors, 1966-67.
Space Family Robinson Lost in Space
, with others. World Distributors, 1967.

(The original dust jacket at the top of this post was from TV Century 21 website, which also includes a review of the book which reads, in part, "A cute book, and lots of interaction with Parker make it thoroughly enjoyable. Plus, of course, the neat James Bond-like gadgets and the ever familiar FAB-1, make this a good read for a fan of Thunderbirds and Lady Penelope." I've now replaced it with a better copy. That and the second scan come to me via Jeremy Briggs. My thanks to Sharri McGarry for sharing her memories.)


  1. We've a small collection of Kevin McGarry books that our 21st century sons love. Happy to scan in the covers for your website. Keep up the good research.

  2. Hi Abigail,

    Thanks for the offer... which I'm more than happy to say 'Yes' to. The more scans the better. You can send them directly to my home address, which is next to that awful picture of me.

  3. Mr. McGarry was a teacher at our primary school, and a huge influence on my early life. I wasn't actually in any of his classes, but he had me down giving almost daily guest-spot lectures to his P5 class (I was in P7 - this was 1971-1972), once he found out that I was the school swot on dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals. I recall the time he sent off to the natural history museum in Utah and got two fossils, a piece of brontosaurus bone, and a lovely wee trilobyte, which he gave to me. I'll never forget him, and I was so sad to hear a few years later that he'd passed away. And I also only found out in very recent times that he'd been a writer for children's books, annuals, etc. I'd really love to track down these books featured in the article, so I guess eBay will be getting a few visits. :) Thank you so much for these fantastic memories.