Tuesday, April 28, 2015


The author of a single issue of Commando in the early 1970s, when I decided to take a look into the author, I stumbled across an author of the same surname who sounded promising. It soon became clear I was on the wrong path, but in this case I think it's worth showing my workings.

Marcus Dailly recently had his first novel published. A Fate Better Than Life (CillEll Publications, 2013)—a description of which can be found here:

A back-cover biography reveals the following: Dailly was born in Dundee and started life as a professional footballer, playing in Scotland, England and Ireland, before studying English and Psychology at Dundee University.

He worked as a journalist with a leading Scottish news agency before turning his attention to teaching. He now lives in Dublin, where he worked as a teacher of English and Physical Education. An Irish newspaper, The Argus, carried a brief interview with the author when his novel was published.

Now, the story below is NOT by Marcus Dailly, who was born 1 October 1975, but the urge to write and the Dundee connection makes me wonder whether it was a relative of Dailly's who was responsible for the comic. (Marcus Dailly, incidentally, is the brother of footballer Christian Dailly.)


Comic Strips
Gallant Enemy, illus. Amador (Commando 712, Jan 1973; rpt Commando 1908, Jul 1985)

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Space Ace Volume 4

The latest (April 2015) issue of John Lawrence's quarterly Ron Turner's Space Ace magazine takes on one of Turner's longer stories this issue, combining the pages of a six-part serial into one long 24-page story. 'The Island Universe' originally appeared in Lone Star, the anthology weekly published by DCMT in the 1950s and 1960s. Turner had taken over the character Space Ace with issue 17 in 1954 and would later take over the artwork for Rick Random later that year, cementing his place as Britain's premier science fiction comic strip artist.

'The Island Universe' was Turner's debut on the strip and reflects Turner's early enthusiasm for bringing variety to the shapes of his panels. This falls away as the strip progresses due to Turner taking on Rick Random, which allowed him less time to experiment. However, the insistence of Super Detective Library editor Ted Holmes that Turner make Rick Random look more realistic—following the style laid down by Bill Lacey—also spilled over into Space Ace.

As for the story, five strange spacecraft are approaching Earth and the Space Patrol are sent out to investigate. When they receive no response to their attempts at contact, Space Ace and his Black Spade co-pilot Bill fire a shot across the bows of the alien craft. They are immediately attacked by robot ships that disable the Black Spade. Boarded and taken captive by the aliens, the creatures reveal their plans... and Space Ace watches in astonishment as a quartet of flying saucer-shaped spaceships fire beams of light towards the Earth—and the planet vanishes!

Despite efforts to shoot their way out of danger, Space Ace and Bill are still captive when the aliens use their transender drives to cross galaxies to the planet Metharon, near to where the planet Earth has reassembled. But not for long, as their alien captives plan to blow up the planet, releasing untold energy that will power the alien's home world.

As writer/artist of 'Space Ace', Turner created a run of action-packed and entertaining adventures and it is a pleasure to see them back in print, especially in colour thanks to the efforts of John Ridgway, who has made every effort to capture the essence of Turner's painted covers and the later 'Daleks' comic strip. My first exposure to Ron Turner's work was in colour—his fantastic covers for Vargo Statten novels—and while it is nice to have strips reprinted in their original form (in this case black & white), I have no problem with seeing them coloured. In this I suspect I'm like most readers, who won't remember the original b/w versions anyway.

There is a second Space Ace story backing up the longer lead strip and John has printed some extracts from his conversations with Ron Turner, which offer some of the artists insights into the 'Island Universe' story, and a lively letters column rounds off another fine 40-page issue.

You can get hold of this latest volume for £8.95 (UK) or £14.00 (Overseas) including p&p — and that's pretty much at cost, I can assure you — with payments through Paypal via spaceace.54 AT virginmedia.com or by cheque or postal order to John Lawrence, 39 Carterweys, Dunstable, Beds. LU5 4RB.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Comic Cuts - 24 April 2015

Following last week's announcement that I was going to have to take a step back from Bear Alley and take on work elsewhere I was overwhelmed by the comments of well-wishers. It's so nice to hear that the research I do, and even these weekly, chatty ramblings, has an audience. We may have only the tiniest corner of the internet, but we attract some really nice people.

The new job is on a trade paper and is only part-time but it gives me a basic salary on which I should be able to survive without drawing on my savings. I'll then have a couple of days a week to do freelance work to top up my income and put some jam on the bread I'm earning from the trade mag. I will be working in-house a few days each week, although I'm starting working from home. Until I get my bearings—this being a whole new area for me—I'll have to treat it as a full-time job. Oh, and my first issue needs to be with the designers by May 8th, so I have two weeks to hustle together 20,000 or so words.


(No, not easy! We will see how confident I'm feeling next week when it's no longer April!)

My other confident prediction is that my "book in a week" project will be published around the same time. This is the most self-indulgent book I've done to date. Yes, even more self-indulgent than putting together a hardback collection of my own essays (Mean Streetmaps) or a book about an almost unknown author (Gwyn Evans: The Lunatic, the Lover and the Poet). I have every belief that this book will sell two dozen copies at best.

For this reason, I'm planning to offer a huge discount to anyone ordering the book ahead of publication. That way you can share my madness without it costing you the earth.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you... THE COMPLETE CAPTAIN FUTURE.

Rather than try to explain my reasons for wanting to revive this obscure 1950s character here, I'll quote from the introduction:
My fascination with the science fiction of the Fifties began in around 1978, inspired by a school project that I was planning to do about sf magazines. Key to this project was Mike Ashley’s History of the Science Fiction Magazine and trips made to the Science Fiction Foundation, then a smallish room at Northeast London Polytechnic in Dagenham where I spent two very long days cribbing notes from Walter Gillings’ ‘The Impatient Dreamers’ and reading copies of Tales of Wonder, Fantasy and the early New Worlds—the first pulp magazines I had ever seen.
    In this shelf-packed Wonderland, I also found copies of Futuristic Science Stories, Worlds of Fantasy, Tales of Tomorrow and Wonders of the Spaceways, four tawdry, paperback-sized compilations which laughingly called themselves science fiction magazines. They had been damningly described in Ashley’s third volume as part of an unwelcome phenomena  that sprang up in the early Fifties: cheaply printed, low quality SF written by authors with no background in the field...
    It was during my trip to Dagenham that I first caught sight of these lurid magazines and their gaudy companions, novels by Vargo Statten, Volsted Gridban, Vektis Brack, Bengo Mistral and a dozen other guttural-sounding science fictional pseudonyms. I had heard that the Vargo Statten novels were not so bad and, being a member of the British Science Fiction Association, I was able to borrow titles from the Foundation’s library.
    Despite the warning of librarian Malcolm Edwards that “They’ll rot your brain,” I rather enjoyed the lively, no-nonsense pulp action of Vargo Statten and began reading others of that ilk, only to find that most of these cheap publishers had no quality threshold at all. But I was drawn to them by their vibrant, colourful covers, and amongst the stand-out talent was Norman Light, second only to Ron Turner when it came to depicting thrilling space battles or alien invasions.
    Light’s action-packed artwork became the focus of my first published article, which drew parallels between the paperback publishers and the ‘pirate’ comic strip publishers of the era. Norman Light was a key figure in the piece because he was not only an artist but also a publisher.
    Thirty-three years later I’m still a fan of Light’s artistry. Not for its quality—there were better artist/writers on a technical level and Light’s figurework tended to be what Denis Gifford described as “asymmetric”—but for its enthusiasm, vivacity and the artist’s obvious passion for good old pulp-style action.
    Here, then, are the complete adventures of Captain Future and the Space Patrol crewmen known as the Buccaneers of Space, one of Light’s finest creations. I hope you enjoy their outlandish adventures as much as I did when I first discovered them.
This one is for fans who read Vultures of the Void or The Mushroom Jungle or any of my essays on the pirate publishers of the 1950s. There's still a couple of weeks before the book can be published—I'm still waiting for a proof to arrive—and I'll hopefully have time to explain the attraction further. All I'll say for now is that if you like your pulp full of colliding galaxies, soaring spaceships and bestial BEMs, I can promise you a thrill-filled collection.

While I was waiting for work to turn up, I had a chance to knock out some scans for this week's random scans presentation. Here are four yarns by Jack Kelso for the Popular Fiction series Popular Detective Stories, published around 1946. I've no idea who the cover artists might be, but I like their simple directness. The look of apprehension on the face of the woman on the cover of The Murder of Colonel Neville tells you all you need to know about how she feels.

Bear Alley will continue to be a little patchy while I get my feet under the desk of this new job, but I'll try to post something as often as possible. I do have something that needs reviewing, which I'll do for the weekend.

Commando issues 4803-4806

Commando issues on sale 23 April 2015.

Commando No 4803 – The Deadly Waters
When German forces invaded the Netherlands in 1940, Dutch Army Lieutenants Dirk Dreise and Ruud Aaker fought in the front line. The campaign went against them, though, forcing them to escape to England where they were assigned to clandestine intelligence work.
   Eventually the tide of war turned and in 1944 they were back in their homeland, determined to throw the invaders out. For them, the fighting raged not in the air or on land but on the waters of the flooded polders.

Story: George Low
Art: Vila
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando No 4804 – Tough Guy
Joe Brady was as tough as the Liverpool slums that had bred him — and, boy, he could hate!
   The many Nazis he met knew the cold ferocity which blazed in his eyes as he swept into battle, but they could tell no one.
   For dead men tell no tales.

Some of you may wonder how we choose which titles to let you read again. Well, there are loads of different reasons but, it the case of this story, one trumps all others. It was drawn by Victor De La Fuente and, as far as I’m concerned, any excuse to let you see his magnificent art is good enough. I grew up reading Commando stories and his illustrations never let me down, combining accuracy, aggression and activity in every frame.
   Victor’s style influenced many other artists, and at least one reader, to get involved in comics. Thanks, Victor.—Calum Laird, Commando Editor

Story: Kenner
Art: Victor De La Fuente
Cover: Scholler
Originally Commando No 149 (January 1965), re-issued as No 743 (May 1973)

Commando No 4805 – Brothers in Danger
Canadian sniper Michel Caron had been recruited by Gabe Dubois, his adopted brother, for a special mission that required expert, high-precision shooting.
   In the bombed-out ruins of Caen in Northern France, death lurked in every shadow — and the brothers soon realised that both of them would have to be ready to sacrifice anything, even their own lives, to complete their deadly task…

Story: Kris Roberts
Art: Morahin
Cover: Janek Matysiak

Commando No 4806 – Secret of The Alps
All it took was one shot from a flare pistol to bring the entire German armoured column to a chaotic standstill.
   There was no shock wave, no heat blast…just a silent explosion of brilliant light that blinded every pair of eyes within a mile. Even inside tanks there was no protection from this unearthly glare, this terrible… Secret Of The Alps

Saichan — responsible for the inside art here — drew 13 Commandos in total. Well, not quite, his final book (Unlucky 13) had to be finished by another artist. The reasons are lost in the mists of time but it wasn’t due to lack of quality for his style — though quirky, and cartoon-ish in places — is certainly effective.
   The story is classic Alan Hebden, a man well known for intricate plotting and (just) believable secret weapons. He was on his game for this one!
   Saichan’s Unlucky 13, by the way, featured some of Commando’s early recurring characters — The Bomb Gang. This story is as explosive as any of theirs.—Calum Laird, Editor

Story: Alan Hebden
Art: Saichan
Cover: Ian Kennedy
Originally No 2343 (January 1990), re-issued as Commando No 3947 (October 2006).

Monday, April 20, 2015

Same Again Next Week?

Same Again Next Week?
A Review of The Champion Issue 1471 – 65 Years Late
by Jeremy Briggs

Today there are few of what we would think of as traditional British comics left on the newsagent’s shelves. While Beano, Commando and 2000AD lead the charge of the surviving old favourites, most comics for today’s children are more like junior lifestyle magazines with their comic strips, or more commonly strip, appearing to be something of an afterthought.

We perhaps look down on these kind of modern comic magazines because we see them as being less than those we read as children with less stories, more colour pictures filling up the pages, and the titles somehow prostituting themselves with the lure of at least one gift every single issue. Yet what to us is the traditional British weekly comic, full of picture strips with speech balloons, really only gained its dominance after the Second World War and in particular with the lifting of the post-war paper rationing in the early Fifties, for in the Forties the typical boys adventure comic was the text-heavy and illustration-light style of the story papers. Amongst others DC Thomson had the long running Adventure, dating from 1921, while Amalgamated Press had The Champion, which began four months later in January 1922, created to compete against the DCT title. These weekly titles had pages upon pages of text stories with a few spot illustrations per story and, maybe, a couple of pages of comic strip to break up the monotony of the solid text. Even the more visual humour titles, the Beano and Dandy amongst them, had text stories included with their comic strips.

Issue 1471 of The Champion was dated for the week ending 8 April 1950 and the look of the publication had not changed in decades. Indeed, cover artist Ronald Simmons had been working on various AP and DCT publications since the early 1920s and as good as his red and blue painted covers for The Champion were, there were only so many variations of a theme that could be produced when the comic only had five or six stories based on similar themes. Yet in that first week of April 1950 The Champion had the rather unusual cover illustration of seals playing football while being watched by real footballers.

The internal text story that the cover referenced was Danny of the Dazzlers, the story of a professional footballer, while the other characters in that issue were pilot Rockfist Rogan, detective Colwyn Dane, schoolboy Ginger Nutt, and boxer Ruff Storm. These were all 3 or 4 page text stories with 1 or 2 black and white line illustrations in each story. The only main visual relief from the 3 columns of text were the centre pages which had a black and white 2 page comic strip of the American Indian character Johnny Fleetfoot, another footballer.

Danny Roberts is the centre-forward for North London United, the football club nicknamed the Dazzlers, and at this point in their season they are in the Cup Final and have a good chance of winning the Championship although team injuries are a worry for their manager John Nixon. When a circus van carrying performing seals breaks down in front of their Sunrays Park ground, Danny allows the animals to stay in the stadium overnight. The next morning they escape, to the delight of the team and the disbelief of the manager who thinks he is having a nervous breakdown and threatens to resign. While the sequence with the seals is farce, the football match, which the Dazzlers eventually win 5-2, is well described and shows just why Danny was one of the title’s favourite characters.

Ruff Storm: The Cyclone Heavyweight is a boxing sailor on the tramp steamer Saucy Lea along with his crew mates Shorty Sparks and Sobby Hobson. The Saucy Lea has berthed at the equatorial island of Dalong to take on a cargo of cocoa beans and for her Captain to deliver something to the island’s dictator who only allows ship’s captains on shore. Captain Roarer Hardy is asleep in his cabin, so Ruff steals his captain’s uniform to go ashore to set up a boxing match with the crooked Pug Milligan and his dangerous manager. While the main plot, of the difficulty in setting up the boxing match and its repercussions, is well handled, the idea that a tramp steamer captain would have a formal uniform and be taking a coded treasure map to the unnamed island dictator is more than a little far fetched.

Ginger Nutt: The Boy Who Takes The Biscuit and Jumbo Merlin are friends in the Fourth Form at St Jake’s College boarding school. Despite having saved enough money to buy tickets to the circus in the nearby village of Malbury they are not allowed to leave the school. They evade Sixth Formers Snake Bertall, Tasker Lynch and Senior Prefect Bagshawe-Smythe but on returning from the box-office run into the House Master, Mr Grimm, who rips up their tickets. This doesn’t prevent the two friends dressing up as trapeze act The Masked Marvels and making it to the big top where the ringmaster mistakes them for his opening act and gets them to climb up the ladder to the trapeze. While the rest is run-of-the-mill comic schoolboy antics, the idea of the two friends actually attempting to perform the trapeze act in front of the circus audience and surviving the experience does strain credibility somewhat.

The Early Adventures Of Johnny Fleetfoot: The Redskin Winger is a comic strip featuring the younger days of one of Champion’s other footballer characters and is set in America amongst his tribe, complete with wigwams and feathered head dresses. The ongoing story tells of Johnny teaching his tribe better football skills so that they can play against the team from the local Crow tribe. While the story is juvenile, the art is relatively detailed although, despite taking up the comic’s centrespread, the thirteen art panels are divided into two separate pages.

Rockfist Rogan had been a fighter pilot serving with the RAF during WWII and after the war had joined Star Airways as a pilot and general trouble shooter. With his colleagues Curly Harper, Archie Streatham and “scatter-brained odd-job man” Dizzy Dyall, they take a flying boat to Crossbones island in the Pacific to create a runway so that Star Airways can extend their passenger routes over that ocean. Needless to say the natives have to be won over from their cannibalistic and war-like ways but after barely three pages Rockfist is made their chief.

This is the first part of the Flying Boss Of Crossbones Island series of stories which presumably would have been reprinted in the planned fourth Rockfist Rogan novel, Rockfist King Of The Cannibals, if had it have been published by Stuart Pepper and Son. Despite the book reprints stopping after Rockfist At The North Pole, the character was deemed popular enough for the publishers to advertise a Rockfist Club on the dust wrapper of that third novel.

The Clue Of The Lion’s Paw is a Colwyn Dane ‘Tec Thriller in which the armed detective chief and his junior detective Slick Chester investigate the murders of African explorers Professor Malin and Sir George Galden who have apparently been mauled to death by a lion in Essex, despite the fact that there are no paw prints around either of their bodies. The story rattles along between a series of different locations and, remarkably, three fairly gory deaths before Colwyn Dane is able to piece the mystery together for the reader and show that while two different lions were involved both were innocent of the killings.

The authors’ names attributed to the stories, as with many of the story papers, are not necessarily genuine. Edward Hame-Gall writing Ruff Storm and Ted Cowan writing Ginger Nutt are indeed the writers’ given names while the other three are pseudonyms. Ted Cowan created Robot Archie for Lion as well as writing for Tiger and Eagle amongst others, while Edward Hame-Gall had created Colwyn Dane. However by this point in Champion’s history the generic pseudonym of Mark Grimshaw was used for any Colwyn Dane writers although the chances are high that the author of this story was Ernest McKeag. As for John Marshall and Hal Wilton, both were pseudonyms of Frank S Pepper who created Captain Condor under his own name for Lion and Roy Of The Rovers under the pseudonym of Stewart Colwyn for Tiger, and the publisher of the Rockfist Rogan novels, Stuart Pepper and Son, was therefore a family business. Indeed the writing connection between Danny Of The Dazzlers and Rockfist Rogan can be seen in this issue when Rockfist Rogan and Dizzy Dyall discuss the current state of the Dazzlers team as Dizzy fills in his Pools coupon.

At the time The Champion was published on newsprint, 24 pages long and was just less than A4 size, all for the cover price of 3d. While the format really hadn't changed in years, based on its longevity, it remained successful with its readership who would have bought it week in, week out. However when those same readers entered their newsagent's shop the next week with their thrupenny coin intending to buy issue 1472 of The Champion, they were confronted with a new tabloid sized comic with colour covers, a large colour centrespread, and comic strips virtually the whole way through.

Could it be that back then there were long standing readers of The Champion who looked at the new title appearing on their newsagent's racks and were unimpressed with this new picture strip format for boy's adventure titles? After all, a copy of The Champion with all its text stories would take quite some time to read through, while a copy of the larger picture strip comic would just not take as long. Time-wise, the story paper provided more entertainment for the same money. That said it the new comic must have been quite a temptation compared to the small, mainly black and white, text heavy Champion and its massive sales suggest that many boys were indeed tempted.

It was April 1950 and the Eagle had arrived.

(The original version of this article appeared in Eagle Times v23 #1, Spring 2010)

P.S. Steve here with a minor correction: the majority of the Colwyn Dane yarns in this era were written by Harry Belfield, but the story in issue 1471 was one of a handful of fill-in tales written by Ted Cowan.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Comic Cuts - 19 April 2015

The Wivenhoe "Sale Trail" took place yesterday and I confess it was a bit of a mixed bag.

We had everything planned down to the finest detail—but as you all know, planning and organisation rarely survive first contact with the enemy. The morning was beautifully clear and promised sunshine galore. We wandered over to the Co-op to pick up some rolls and a couple of cans of drink so we had something to keep us going during our five hours (11 am to 4 pm) selling.

We then wandered down to the William Loveless Hall, where we were planning to run a couple of tables supplied by the local council. The organiser  had tables ready. We chose our pitch—on the lawn outside the Hall, along the side of the driveway heading up to the main entrance where most people would be walking—and headed back to the house to start shifting boxes.

The sack-trolly we had borrowed wasn't up to the task. It worked fine with one box on the kitchen floor but not once you loaded it up on a steep driveway. In fact, it was so rusty that one tug on the handle caused the smaller front wheels to fold up underneath the frame. Forcing them back into shape, we managed to get a few boxes moved the 200 yards to the Hall.

Thankfully, we were able to borrow another trolly: larger and far more stable, we found this one a lot easier to use and the remainder of the boxes were all moved in one more noisy and rattly trip. Two tables meant that we had most of the boxes at table height and only a few resting below the tables. Helpful to the aging Wivenhoe population, in which group I have to count myself these days.

I parked the trolly and returned to the table where Mel was already conversing with a potential customer. He bought four DVDs. Before we had properly laid out the table or put up signs, and half an hour before the official start, we'd made £4! The day looked very promising.

There was an irregular stream of people coming past for the first hour. We were doing pretty well in both book and DVD departments. The day before the sale I had found a record box full of Mel's old LPs and persuaded her to take it down. We sold two almost immediately.

We had three other tables nearby, two selling jewelery and one selling a rag bag of clothing, trinkets and junk. There were more stalls inside the Hall. Only the W.I. had books and then only a couple of dozen. Pathetic compared to the 400 we had on display!

Not that quantity was attracting customers. Twelve to two was a dead zone. People wandered over saying that they didn't know anything about the sale; I'm not sure where the sale was advertised. We saw notices on noticeboards at the council's office and at William Loveless Hall and another board about half a mile away. If that was the extent of the advertising, maybe the lack of customers was understandable.

After three hours we we'd sold about £33 of goods and shortly afterwards sold another £10 of records. We were well on our way towards our target of £50.

On a less positive note we were both feeling the cold. The sun was bright but the breeze was cutting right through us. Mel went to get herself a cup of tea and bring back some coffee. The lady on one of the nearby tables asked me to keep an eye on her goods while she disappeared. For a tea, I thought, but she came back complaining that nobody was selling gloves. Adding to her woes, a dog pooped nearby and the owner didn't bother to pick it up, so we helped her move her table so her customers weren't standing in dog shit.

Dog walkers were amongst our main customers and footfall picked up after lunch—and I don't just mean because dogs have four feet. Mel had nipped home to pick up my coat so I was feeling warmer and quite positive that we were going to hit our target. In the next hour we made about £2. The dog walkers hadn't come out with buying goods in mind and the majority only had loose change on them. One dog took a pee up against a bag in front of one of the other stalls. I am appalled at how funny I thought this was. I'm an evil man. I will go straight to hell. But it was funny.

We went into the final hour about £15 shy of our target. Slashing prices didn't increase the number of customers, but it did sway some of them to buy. At four o'clock we were on £49.80... just 20p short of our £50. I wandered into the Hall to make sure we could get hold of the trolly in order to wheel all the boxes back home. As I came out, I saw we had more customers. We made three more sales, pushing us over the target by a couple of quid.

We wheeled home our boxes, having sold something like 13 LPs, 15 DVDs and 60 or so books. It was only later that I remembered that I'd set the target before we found the box of albums, so really, of the roughly £53 we took, only £40 was from my stock of duplicates. And you had to take £5 off for the cost of the table. So was it worth spending most of a day outside in the cold and then having to take 85% of our stock back home with us for the grand sum of £35?

So it wasn't brilliant, but I've had worse days. Our fellow stall holders were friendly and we had a good laugh with our customers, some of whom found the idea of people sitting around outside in the cold trying to sell books to a largely illiterate crowd hilarious. Probably the most telling moment was when a man picked up one of the cassette tapes we had on offer and showed it to his young daughter. "Do you know what this is?" he asked. She didn't have a clue. I've never felt so old.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Comic Cuts - 17 April 2015

I promised big news this week, so without further ado... I'm shortly to be starting a new job. I'm going back to full-time work with a local magazine publisher editing a trade magazine and, at least to start with, working in-house.

If you're a regular reader you'll know that things have been tight for some time. Bear Alley and Bear Alley Books was financed by what freelance work I could get and it worked for a couple of years. Bear Alley Books was growing quite nicely, although it never made enough for me to live on. Unfortunately, sales have remained steady at a level that won't pay the rent and looking at the figures for the upcoming co-production of the Don Lawrence Scrapbook makes it clear that, even if we sell out the print run, I'm not going to make enough to cover the cost of living for the period I worked on the book.

I've been topping up my earnings from my savings for the last two years but the relentless arrival of bills (rent, council tax, gas, electricity, water, house insurance, phone, etc., etc.) and the need to replace goods (washing machine, DVD player) as they wear out is starting to have a big impact. Add to this the fact that I haven't paid anything into my pension for over a decade and I'm now in my fifties... well, I knew a decision was going to have to be made soon.

I'm not folding Bear Alley or Bear Alley Books. They will, however, have to take a back seat for a couple of months while I find find my feet and adjust to a full-time job. I have more books planned. They'll just take longer to produce. I've always freelanced a little on top of whatever job I've had (where do you think I built up the small fighting fund that has financed Bear Alley Books?) and I imagine that I'll continue to do so. I still have a number of comics' indexes that I need to revise and reissue and new ones that need to be researched and written.

I've also been doing a lot of research towards revising my old The Mushroom Jungle book. I'd love to do a book gathering together some of the fantastic (and sometimes terrible) cover art of those old paperbacks. Running the regular random scans feature every week has forced me to do the leg-work of research and cleaning-up of covers that kind of project demands.

I regularly change tack every five years, so a new challenge isn't something I'm too worried about. In fact, I'm rather looking forward to a change of scenery and having people around me that I can talk to during the day. I might even be able to fit in a holiday, as I've had only one since I started freelancing back in 1990, and that was when the first Gulf War kicked off (January 1991) while I was in Tenerife.

With all this going on, it has been an interesting week!

For starters, it was my birthday and I was planning to take a day off, only to be called in for an interview. I was planning to meet up with Mum the following day, but she had to cry off due to a cold, so I turned that into my day off. And how have I spent my time off? Trying to sort out my accounts and making sure that I can step back into PAYE without needing to go into emergency tax mode.

At the other end of the fun scale, I've been sorting through a load of old books that I want to get rid of. About 400 of them in 17 boxes that I've had sitting in my office for a couple of years. We've signed up for something called the "Sale Trail". Basically, you can pitch up anywhere in town and for a fiver you can be listed on the trail map. We've booked a table near the council buildings which we hope will have a greater footfall than if we were to set up in our garden. It means we have to lug 17 boxes of books across town, but I have a sack barrow and a desire to flog off some duplicates that have been clogging up my office for too long, which will give me strength.

We shall see how I feel on Saturday morning after lugging box after box down the road. Or, potentially worse, wheeling boxes of unsold books back up the hill on Saturday afternoon.

While I was taking a day off, one of Britain's favourite old comics announced the launch of a new series of military graphic novels. D. C. Thomson's Commando has teamed up with Osprey Publishing, a project that "we've been cooking up for a while," according to Commando editor Calum Laird. Here's the press release:
Osprey Publishing (part of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC) and DC Thomson & Co Ltd have joined forces to create eight new graphic war novels consisting of an original, fictional, comic strip of 84 pages coupled with detailed historical information describing the featured conflict, campaign and combatants.
    These exciting, fictional action narratives take place in times of war and feature soldiers, sailors and airmen, exploring themes of courage and friendship against a backdrop of war and adversity. Each strip will be checked for historically accuracy and feature events and situations true to the experiences of the combatants from the actual conflicts across a range of historical periods.
    This new collaboration brings together the story-telling expertise of Commando and the historical authority of Osprey in a brand new fiction series with supporting material for both adults and children. The books will be on sale globally through the Osprey/Bloomsbury distribution network.
    Richard Sullivan, Managing Director, Osprey Publishing said:
    ‘I am very excited to be working with DC Thomson and Commando. I grew up with their comics and their commitment to telling classic war stories remains undimmed. At Osprey we have a hugely enthusiastic customer base and we believe they will love these modern comics telling the stories of battle and conflict.’
    Tim Collins, Head of Brands, Commando Comics said:
    ‘Commando’s stories of action and adventure have been continuously published for over 50 years and we’re really pleased to combine our fictional expertise with the factual strength of the Osprey collections and the huge distribution both here and across the world that Osprey and Bloomsbury can deliver.’
Osprey have previously dipped their toe into the graphic novel pool with the Graphic History series of 48-pagers back in 2006-07. It will be interesting to see how giving some of Commando's authors and artists a little more space to play in works. And will we be seeing some nice Ian Kennedy covers?

Random scans this week are a selection from the works of Nat Karta, one of the best-selling house pseudonyms of the 1950s. Created by John Watson, who went on to edit books for World Distributors, Karta's early novels sold 40,000 a time. As prosecutions of newsagents made paperback publishers and distributors a little more wary, Watson sold the names to Scion, who needed some established names to replace others they had lost to Milestone.

Muir Watson often used silhouettes on their covers, but these are chiefly painted. I'm afraid the quality isn't as good as I normally like as these are from very small scans. But you can see why I think a book collecting some of these old covers together would be a good idea!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Duane Valentry

Duane Valentry was a name I stumbled across only recently as I was compiling a list of nature stories from the pages of Look and Learn (well, someone's got to do it!). A Google search revealed that Duane Valentry was a prolific writer across at least four decades.

Duane was a Miss Duane Valentry, described in one piece (Hellfire Herald, 20 February 1945) as "late of the Red Cross Club, 'Rajah Dodger Lodge'," which noted that she was "no longer at APO 220. As part of the original four Red Cross girls to come to this Field, Miss Valentry brought her talents as a singer and songwriter to effective use in impromptu entertainments. The men of APO 220 wish Miss Valentry success wherever she may be stationed in the future." APO 220 was the code name for Piardoba Airfield in West Bengal, India.

I haven't discovered much about Velentry's career as a writer. There are a number of songs credited ("No Matter Where I Go" (1945), "Sin City", "Sing Me a Gospel Song Once More", "Lord Take Care of My Friend", "But Where Are the Nine") and her byline appeared in Motoboating (fl.1952), Nature Magazine (fl.1952), Story Parade (fl.1953), The American Mercury (fl.1954-60), Flying (fl.1958), Western Horseman (fl.1960-63), Frontiers (fl.1966), Golden Nugget (fl.1966), Relics (fl.1969-70), Movieland and TV Times (fl.1972-75), Boating (fl.1973) and Harlequin (fl.1976).

Duane Valentry was born in Philadelphia, PA, on 25 June 1909 and lived in New York City shortly after the Second World War and Ventura County, California from at least the 1950s on, although her last residence noted at the time of her death on 10 January 2000 was given as Pasadena, Los Angeles.

Although Duane Valentry is listed in the social security death index under that name, a copyright entry for a 1945 song reveals that Duane Valentry was a pen-name for H. M. Yarnall. I haven't been able to nail down any further information and whether Yarnall was her birth name and I'm struggling to find her in any early 20th century census records under either Yarnall or Valentry.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

F. G. Turnbull

F. G. Turnbull was born in Edinburgh but grew up in rural areas, hence his love and fascination of nature. As a young man he worked in mechanical engineering and successfully patented several pieces of machinery. In later years Turnbull was a partner in a commercial beekeeping enterprise.

He specialised in writing stories about the wild animals of the British Isles. He had a beautiful writing style, often reaching great heights of imagination in his colourful, exciting stories. Some of the best were collected in Kallee and other stories (1947).

He contributed 194 tales to the Evening News between 1934 and 1968. In addition to his Evening News work, Turnbull's stories regularly appeared in magazines such as CornhillZoo, Argosy, The Star and the juvenile periodicals Boy's Own Paper and Look and Learn.

I know nothing about Turnbull himself. I wonder if he was related in any way to Frederick Gower Turnbull, the author of Remember Me to Everybody: Letters from India, 1944-1949 (West Meadow Press, 1997), the husband of Merlyn Ann Hoyle who died in Calcutta, India, on 26 February 1949.


Kallee and other stories, illus. Lunt Roberts. London, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1947.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

John Onslow

I decided to take a little look into the career of John Onslow after discovering that there were three authors of this name listed on the FictionMags Index. The Onslow I was interested in, who contributed a number of short stories to Look and Learn, was listed as simply fl.1968-70. (Of the other two, one (fl.1901-02) was way too old and the other (fl. 1933-37) seems to have only contributed two stories to Black Mask, the U.S. pulp.)

A quick dig around in library records turned up a number of books under the byline John Onslow likely to be by the same author. If I am correct in saying that "our" John Onslow also wrote the earlier Bowler-Hatted Cowboy, it seems that his origins may lie in Canada or he at least spent time in Canada, as the book concerns ranch life in British Columbia. A dealer's description I found described it thus: "Humorous and revealing account of ranch-life in North-West Canada after WWII, contending with wolves, bears, sub-zero temperatures and people with whom he did not see eye to eye."

This led me to Book Guy: A Librarian in the Peace by Howard Overend, in which he briefly reminisces about the book (pp.281-282):
Memories kept coming. I thought of a recently arrived homesteader who ranched in the Upper Cache Creek country for more than a dozen years after the war, John Onslow, whom I knew only through his book Bowler-Hatted Cowboy, which he wrote after returning to England with his wife and two children in 1959. His sister Hope had been one of Monica Storrs' missionary assistants, who spread the Anglican evangelical word in the North Peace region in the 1930s and '40s. Hope had married Robert D. Symons, a rancher, writer and artist who lived in the Upper Cache area, and John Onslow, fresh from army life after the war, had come to settle near them.
    Bowler-Hatted Cowboy caused quite a stir when it came out: it was all the library could do to keep up with demand. I don't think John Onslow's neighbours had any difficulty recognizing themselves and others, despite the fictitious names he gave them, and in Fort St. John—or Riverville, as he called it—there was not a reader who didn't know that the editor character "Ma Callahan" was the one and only Margaret "Ma" Murray of the Alaska Highway News.
    Pseudonyms aside, Onslow's well-told story and the local reaction to it made me curious. One day in September 1963, Wayne Steeves and I delivered books to the lonely little school at Upper Cache Creek and along the way we took a collection to Mrs. Hugh Bovee who had a small community library at a ranch down the road. In answer to our queries, Mrs. Bovee talked a bit about the Onslows and told us how to get to their old ranch house. The trip was an excursion, not only on a rutted lane through some beautiful yellow-tinted polar woods and across a creek, but through a few long years of time.
    hen we came upon it—the cabit of three parts, each with its own steep-pitched roof and built, as additions were needed, in an odd staggered sequence. The centre and rear parts were constructed of well-chinked weathered logs and the front was incongruously faced with white siding. Behind it rose the hill we had driven down, and in front was the ranch yard with fences and barn intact. A small bunkhouse lay toppled in a ravine but otherwise the place looked almost as if the Onslows had moved out a few days before. But we found the house chill and desolate. People had gone; only squirrels and ghosts were left. I remember feeling like an intruder. Outside on the red roof there was a large-painted J/O, the brand of John Onslow, homesteader and self-styled bowler-hatted cowboy who once had lived there and made the place his own. We noticed the mark again on one of the cows in the woods on our way back to the road.
    On the last page of his book, Onslow tells of his strong affection for his horse Paint. In the deserted barn on a straw-strewn floor we had seen a collar, dusty and worn. I wondered if this was all that was left of the experiences they had shared, the many rides along the trail through the woods and across the sunlit hills.
This extract offers quite a few clues. I started with Hope Onslow. As it was an uncommon combination of names, I quickly established that she was born in Leighton, Shropshire, in on 7 February 1907, the daughter of George Arthur Onslow and his wife Charlottle Riou (nee Benson), who were married in London in 1902. The Onslows had eight children: Mary, Robert George, John, Hope, Charles Edward, Kathleen Theodosia, Thomas Philip Riou and Denzil Octavia.

John was born in Leighton, Shropshire, on 6 January 1906 and grew up in and around Leighton and Shrewbury, where George Onslow was a farmer. His mother died in 1932, aged 56, and George remarried a year later to  Maud Elliot Harris.

Onslow would appear to have had a career in the army in the 1930s and was already an army officer by 1938. He eventually retired with the rank of Major.

John travelled to Canada after the war and became a rancher in Fort St. John. He married Susan Towle in Westminster in 1956 and they had five children (three girls, two boys) including Andrew G. (1957), Jane Elizabeth (1958), Simon J. (1960), Sarah M. (1962) and Rachel Evelyn M. (1967). Only Jane was born in Canada. On his return to England, the family settled in Sussex and it was in Chichester that Onslow's death was registered He died on 25 October 1985, aged 79.

Onslow wrote for Wide World and Argosy as well as a dozen short stories on a nature theme for Look & Learn in 1968-69. Two of his novels were aimed at children and concerned wizardry and witches.


Fire in the Desert. Edinburgh & London, Blackwood & Sons, 1964.
The Stumpfs, illus. John Lawrence. London, Jonathan Cape, 1966.
Stumpf and the Cornish Witches. London, Jonathan Cape, 1969.

Bowler-Hatted Cowboy. Edinburgh & London, William Blackwood & Sons, 1962.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Alan C. Jenkins

Alan C. Jenkins was the author of seven stories in Look and Learn in 1967, a minor contribution from a prolific nature writer.

Born Alan Charles Jenkins in Woodford, Essex, on 2 July 1912 (although he later claimed in The Author's and Writer's Who's Who it was 1914), and was educated at King Edward VI School. He served with the R.N.V.R. during the Second World War but was otherwise a writer and editor his whole career.

His earliest known writing was "Tales of Hatchetty Hollow", a 5-part series of children's stories broadcast on the radio in 1934. He contributed heavily to The Boy's Own Paper for over nearly thirty years and was their regular book reviewer in the late 1950s, although he continued to write stories for the paper under the name John Bancroft. He also wrote for adults, his stories appearing in Blackwood's, The Countryman and through the Central Office of Information.

Jenkins was a regular contributor to magazines and newspapers on the subject of nature and was a member of the Zoological Society, the Fauna Preservation Society, the Mammal Society and The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Jan Morris reviewed his Wildlife in the City (The Times, 4 Dec 1982), which she called "quaint and charming":
This is full of curious knowledge, imparted in a cosy, tea-time tone of voice, and illustrated with photographs often of an engaging irrelevance. We learn about muskrats of New York, badgers of Wimbledon Common, lemmings in Oslo. We are told that 200 fox litters have been recorded in Bristol, and that polar bears frequent Canadian rubbish-dumps these days. Fancy that, we exclaim: and kind Mr Jenkins, reaching for another crumpet, moves in to the rats of Pisa...
Jenkins lived for many years at Pear Trees, Belstone, Okehampton, Devon, where he died in 1996, aged 83. He was survived by his wife, Nancy Letitia Whitaker Bovill (who died in 2011, aged 96), and two step-children from her previous marriage to Lt. R. J. O. O'Neill-Roe, RN, Susan and Siano.

Original colour artwork by Kenneth Lilly 


A Ship for Nelson. London, Lutterworth Press, 1952.
The Reindeer Twins, illus. Ruth Murrell. 1957.
Lasso of the North, illus. Ruth Murrell. 1958.
Ponies for Sale, illus. Will Nickless. 1958.
White Horses and Black Bulls, illus. Victor G. Ambrus. London, Blackie, 1960.
The Twins of Lapland, illus. Christopher Brooker. London, Jonathan Cape, 1960.
Guardian of Honour (as John Bancroft), illus. Grace Huxtable. London, Macmillan, 1961; New York, St. Martin's Press, 1961.
The Ring of Truth (as John Bancroft), illus. Grace Huxtable. London, Macmillan, 1962; New York, St. Martin's Press, 1962.
Kingdom of the Elephants, illus. Victor G. Ambrus. 1963.
Paulo and the Wolf, illus. Margery Gill. Edinburgh, Oliver & Boyd, 1963.
The Borodin Affair (as John Bancroft). London, Epworth Press, 1966.
Wild Swans at Suvanto, illus. Robert Frankenberg. Norton, 1965; London, Hart Davis, 1966.
Storm Over the Blue Hills, illus. Victor G. Ambrus. London, Oliver & Boyd, 1966.
White Meg's Magic, illus. Peter Warner. London, H. Hamilton, 1967.
The Moon in His Pocket, illus. Barry Wilkinson. London, Oliver & Boyd, 1967 [1968].
The Magic Bullet, illus. Peter Warner. London. H. Hamilton, 1968.
Race for Life, illus. Malcolm Hargreaves. London, Hamilton, 1969.
Ship of Fire, illus. Graham Humphreys. London, Hamilton, 1969.
Ice at Midsummer, illus. Graham Humphreys. London, Hamilton, 1970.
Shadow of the Deer, illus. Peter Warner. London, Chatto, Boyd & Oliver, 1970.
Night of the Lantern, illus. Richard Scollins. London, Hamilton, 1973.
Aslak the hunter, illus. Richard Kennedy. London, Abelard-Schuman/Sadler, 1975.
The Man Who Rode a Tiger. An Indian folk-story, illus. Gareth Floyd. London, Hamilton, 1975.
The Winter-Sleeper, illus. Graham Humphreys. London, Hamilton, 1977.
The Ghost Elephant. An African story, illus. Nelda Prins. Harmondsworth, Puffin, 1981.

Between the Two Twilights. Tales of woodland, moor and stream. London, John Murray, 1937.

Dear Olga. Letters from Russia. London, John Lane, 1947.
Introducing Horses. London, Spring Books, 1959.
Introducing Cats. London, Spring Books, 1959.
Introducing Baby Animals. London, Spring Books, 1960.
Introducing Pets. London, Spring Books, 1960.
The Viscount Concise Dictionary. London, Spring Books, 1960.
Pirates and Highwaymen, illus. Virginia Smith. Edinburgh, Oliver & Boyd (Signpost Library 1), 1962.
The Good Spelling Dictionary. London, Spring Books, 1964; as The Daily Mirror Pocket Dictionary. London, Daily Mirror, 1967.
Sport, illus. Virginia Smith. Edinburgh, Oliver & Boyd (Signpost Library 8), 1964.
Animals of History, illus. Romain Simon. Edinburgh, Oliver & Boyd, 1965.
The Golden Band. Holland's fight against the sea. London, Methuen, 1966; Coward-McCann, c.1966.
The Silver Haul. Trawling and deep-sea fishing. London, Methuen, 1967.
Wild Encounters, illus. Gavin Rowe. London, Chatto, Boyd & Oliver, 1971.
Circuses Through the Ages, illus. Mark Peppe. London, Chatto, Boyd & Oliver, 1972.
Wild Life in Danger. London, Methuen, 1973.
Markets Through the Ages, illus. Michael Jackson. London, Chatto & Windus, 1974.
Searchlight of Archaeology (translated and adapted from Kreuzwortratsel der Geschichte by Werner Illing, Esslingen, J. F. Schreiber, 1973). Glasgow, Blackie, 1975. 
Great Discoveries (translated and adapted from Kreuzwortratsel der Geschichte by Werner Illing, Esslingen, J. F. Schreiber, 1973). Glasgow, Blackie, 1975.
Journeys into the Unknown (translated and adapted from Entdeckungsreisen ins Ungewisse by Werner Illing, Esslingen, J. F. Schreiber, 1973). Glasgow, Blackie, 1975.
The Struggle for the North and South Poles (translated and adapted from Der Kampf um Nordpol und Sudpol by Werner Illing, Esslingen, J. F. Schreiber, 1973). Glasgow, Blackie, 1975.
A Wealth of Trees. Forestry and the use of timber. London, Methuen, 1975.
World of Ghosts, illus. Virginia Smith. London, Chatto & Windus, 1976.
The Naturalists: Pioneers of Natural History. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1978; New York, Mayflower Books, 1978.
Wild Animals. London, Albany Books, 1979.
A Countryman's Year, illus. Peter Barrett. Execer, Webb & Bower, 1980.
Secrets of Nature, illus. Helen Cherry. Sevenoaks, Knight, 1981.
A Village Year. Exeter, Webb & Bower, 1981.
Wildlife in the City. Animals, birds, reptiles, insects and plants in an urban landscape. Exeter, Webb & Bower, 1982.
Mysteries of Nature. Exeter, Webb & Bower, 1983.
The Country Diary Nature Notes, with Edith Holden. Exeter, Webb & Bower, 1984.
A. R. Quinton's England. A portrait of rural life at the turn of the century. Exeter, Webb & Bower, 1987.

Thin Air. An anthology of ghost stories. London, Blackie, 1966.
Animal Stories. London, Blackie, 1967.
Escape! An anthology of action stories. London, Blackie, 1968.
Spy! An anthology of espionage stories. London, Blackie, 1969.
Mystery. An anthology of baffling stories. London, Blackie, 1970.
Ghosts. An anthology of spectral stories. London, Blackie, 1971.
Eye-Witness. A unique collection of first-hand accounts. London, Blackie, 1972.
Nature Quest. An anothology of wild life stories. London, Blackie, 1972.
Dangers Unlimited. Stories of man against nature. London, Blackie, 1973.
Exploration  Earth. Unforgettable journeys of discovery. London, Blackie, 1973.
Journeys into Danger. The lure of the unknown. London, Blackie, 1973.
The Sporting Life. London, Blackie, 1974.
Treasure! An anthology. Glasgow, Blackie, 1974.
Airborne. Glagow, Blackie, 1975.
Skyriders. Man's conquest of the air. Glasgow, Blackie, 1975.
The Prodigal Earth. The heritage of the land: an anthology. Glasgow, Blackie, 1976.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Edna M. Cass

Credited with half a dozen short stories in Look and Learn in 1967-69 and with a short (20-page) collection of verse. Little else is known about her writing career.

Her full name, as given by the British Library, was Edna May Cass, possibly the Edna May Cass who was born on 4 May 1927, who died in Leeds in 2000. Unfortunately, there's no way to confirm this unless a family member or friend gets in touch.


Poems. Ilfracombe, Arthur H. Stockwell, 1960.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Norah Burke

Norah Burke has been on my radar for many times over the year. I think I first noted her name as a writer for Gerald G. Swan. Some years later, Cliff Lewis mentioned her in connection with his publishing company Curzon, which published romances—some reprinted from serials in women's magazines—under rather more saucy titles for the original paperback market. Ever since her name has popped up in various contexts... as a writer for Look and Learn, for instance, and more recently with a story in The Children's Newspaper. Back in the summer of 2008, I thought it was time to gather together everything I knew.

The post, published on 13 August 2008, has been one of the most viewed on Bear Alley, with over 14,550 visitors to that particular posting, according to Blogger, although the post was already almost two years old before Blogger started counting in July 2010. A few days ago, on 7 April, the post was lifted almost wholesale and posted on Wikipedia. During the day, various revisions added a credit (to someone called Srinidhi) and removed the link to the original post.

I received some very interesting comments about the original post, especially from India where Norah Burke's Jungle Picture was on the grade 10 Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE) exams.

According to poet Rupa Abdi, "Norah Burke is the reason why I am a writer today. We had her book as a part of our English Literature curriculm in my Delhi School, in std.9th. I was barely 13 years old then and was fascinated with the world of Norah's words, what a skillful magician of words, who could draw the entire multifaceted canvas of the Indian jungle life with such few, such simple words... I would wonder in awe. In fact that was when I wrote my first short story and poem... my love affair with the world of words never ended since... I am fifty now, and still have my 47-year-old copy of Jungle Picture with me."

Her words were echoed by many others. Chandrika said, "Most of us who did ICSE in India in the late '70s were introduced to this truly illustrious English writer, thanks to some intelligent people on the board who chose the book for our study. Given the tripe that are now chosen for study even in degree courses one is indeed blessed to have read this classic book ... which is a richly descriptive book written in flawless English." Justin Rayne: "I had Jungle Picture for my 8th Std. ICSE class. The impact this collection of stories has had with me, has remained all these years. In fact I'm still looking for a copy (how we foolishly discard such treasures). Her simple yet masterly story-weaving ability had me see 'Gajpati' tied to the tree, and the young lad who carried his brother across the jungle, while he suffered with high fever... absolutely enchanting and riveting!"

Other commentators added their own praise for Norah Burke's work, which seems to have had a lasting impact on many youngsters who have grown to adulthood and passed on their fond memories of her stories to their children.

Norah Aileen Burke was born in Bedford on 2 August 1907, her parents—who had lived in India for many years—returning especially for her birth. The family returned to India when the baby Norah was only two months old, and she spent the next twelve years travelling around the jungle at the foothills of the Himalayas where her father, Redmond St. George Burke, was a forest officer with the Imperial Forest Service. Her mother was Aileen Marion Burke, the daughter of John Mervyn Wrench, the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, and she had two younger brothers, Harry (1909-1942) and Peter (1917- )

Constantly changing camps, carrying their belongings by elephant, made education difficult, but she learned to write at the age of eight, and started writing stories straight away. She also read as much as she could, including bound volumes of Chums and Boy’s Own Paper, and even wrote and edited her own little magazine entitled The Monthly Dorrit.

She returned to England in 1919 to attend a school in Devonshire, and lived her family home at The Auberies, Bulmer, near Sudbury, in Suffolk. Her first novel, Dark Road, was published in 1933, Burke drawing on her own background for the book's settings of Suffolk and India. After a second novel dealing with a European dictator (The Scarlet Vampire), she wrote Merry England, which was set in historical Suffolk.

Her next few novels, romances, appeared from Gerald Swan during the war and post-war years and, according to an article published in The Writer in January 1950, she had by then published 11 novels and her short stories and articles had appeared in more than 100 periodicals, including 20-Story Magazine, The Novel Magazine, and various Gerald Swan publications. Her work was published in France, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Irish Free State, Australia, America, Canada and many of the better British magazines, including Everybody's and Courier. In 1954, she was the winner of the New York Herald Tribune World Short Story Contest.

As well as fiction, Norah Burke was also an enthusiastic travel writer, relating many of her early adventures in autobiographical travel books Jungle Child (1956), Tiger Country (1965) and Eleven Leopards (1965). She also wrote about wildlife in King Todd (1963) and The Midnight Forest (1966) and numerous short stories. She collaborated with her father on his book of big game hunting and camp life in the Indian jungles, Jungle Days (1935).

She married Henry Humphrey R. Methwold Walrond (1904-1987), a lawyer, on 25 July 1931. She lived for many years at Thorne Court., in Cockfield, near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. She died in 1976, survived by her husband and two sons, Timothy John Walrond and Humphrey Bill Walrond.


Dark Road. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1933.
Merry England. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1934.
The Scarlet Vampire. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1936.
Dreams Come True. London, Gerald Swan, Feb 1943.
The Awakened Heart. London, Gerald Swan, Mar 1944.
Gold Temple Bells. London, Gerald Swan, Nov 1949.
Hazelwood. London, Hodder & Stoughton, Jul 1953; as The Splendour Falls, New York, Morrow, 1953.
Not as Others. London, [publisher?], 1956. [Listed by Trinity College, Dublin as a printed book]

Novels as Andre Lamour
Harem Captive. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Dec 1946.
Desert Passion. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Nov 1947.
Dusky Bridegroom. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Dec 1947.
No Wedding Ring. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Feb 1948.
Pin-Up for Michael. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Aug 1948.
Take My Love!. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Sep 1948.

Novels as Paul Lestrange
Slave to Passion. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Aug 1948.
Tarnished Angel. Stone, Staffordshire, Curzon, Sep 1948.

Collections Jungle Picture. A picture of the vast forests of India, along with the foot-hills of the Himalayas in short stories. London, Cassell, 1960.

Jungle Days, with R. St. George Burke. London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1935.
Jungle Child (autobiography). London, Cassell & Co., Feb 1956; New York, W. W. Norton, 1956; abridged, London, Cassell (Red Lion Readers 2), 1966.
King Todd. The true story of a wild badger, illus. D. J. Watkins-Pitchford. London, Putnam, 1963.
Tiger Country. London, Putnam, 1965.
Eleven Leopards. A journey through the jungles of Ceylon. London, Jarrolds, 1965.
The Midnight Forest. A true story of wild animals. London, Jarrolds, 1966.


Parables of the Gospel [Homiliae], by Saint Gregory, translated by Nora Burke. Dublin, Scepter, 1960.
The Faith Applied [Vivre le christianisme], by Jean Daujat, translated by Norah Burke. Dublin, Scepter, 1963.

(* The Children's Newspaper © Look and Learn Magazine Ltd.)


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