Thursday, 11 February 2016

Books from my Bookshelf - Potter Pinner Meadow by Mollie Kaye

Potter Pinner Meadow is a recent addition to my bookshelf found at the Oxfam Bookshop in Shaftsbury, Dorset. I was lucky enough to buy this and a second book by the same author for just a few pounds. I've uncovered a few hidden gems from this charity shop so if you are ever in the area, it might be worth calling in.



  Gold Hill, Shaftsbury

Dating back to the Saxon era and boasting amazing views of the Blackmore Vale Shaftsbury itself is well worth a visit. Gold Hill is a steep cobbled street in the town famous for its picturesque appearance. You may well recognise it as the setting for a film version of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd, and advertisements for Morrisons and Hovis bread.

Filmed more than 40 years ago the Hovis advert is now one of the most famous scenes in British TV history.  Image: Mail Online

Anyway, I digress;

Potter Pinner Meadow by Mollie Kaye with decorations by Margaret Tempest Published in 1937 by Collins, London.

Mollie Kaye also known as M. M. Kaye is best known for her immensely popular novel The Far Pavilions. I’ve added some factual information about her and the illustrator Margaret Tempest at the end of this post.



Potter Pinner Meadow was a very select neighbourhood and only the VERY BEST people had their houses there. Aloysius Pricklewig J.P. lived in a roomy hollow under a bank. Mr. Pricklewig was a hedgehog. His bristles were always coming through his coats, so he continually had to darn them or to order new ones.



Mr. Pricklewig was by no means the only inhabitant of that very select neighbourhood.  The Whiskertips, a family of aristocratic field mice owned a smart apartment on the sunny side of the hawthorn hedge.  Mrs. Beatrice Brownwing, the speckled thrush occupied a cosy nest, while Timothy Tidmarsh the Dormouse lived in a small but cosy house among the roots of the big Elm tree. 




The fly in the ointment came in the guise of Farmer Wraggs and his dog Tatters. Farmer Wraggs had a sour face, a mouth that turned down at the corners and a fringe of sandy whiskers. He also had a habit of poking around among the tree roots and slashing at the hedges with his stout hickory stick while Tatters growled and barked.   


Whenever Farmer Wraggs came stumping up the meadow everyone locked their doors and pulled down the blinds. Even Mr. Pricklewig put out a Not - At - Home sign and closed the shutters when farmer Wraggs was about. However, there was one person who didn't mind at all because he was nearly always fast asleep in his bed. 




While Timothy Tidmarsh slept the rest of the inhabitants of Potter Pinner Meadow attended an Indignation Meeting to complain about the state of affairs. Wonderful plans were discussed, and long speeches were made beginning with “Tatters Must Go” but all Timothy ever said was “SSSNOORE”. 



One fine spring evening Timothy woke from his afternoon nap put on his second best coat, and set off to buy his supper. When he arrived at the shop it was full of customers all complaining about Mr. Waggs. Not wishing to get involved Timothy decided to enjoy a little snooze. “That Dormouse has no public spirit said Mrs. Beatrice Brownwing. I was telling him only yesterday how dreadfully I have been disturbed by that farmer person and would you believe it all he said was I don’t see much of him myself!”

When Timothy woke up he was rather bored by all the talk of farmers and dogs, so taking up his basket he started off for home.  He was hardly more than half-way up the meadow when he heard sounds of barking. He stood still and listened.  The barking seemed to come from the direction of the big elm tree. Continuing with caution he was faced with a dreadful scene! For where there had been a cosy home for a dormouse, there was nothing but a broken mess of bits and pieces. Of Timothy's beautiful furniture and his comfortable four-poster bed there was not a trace.  



Timothy put his pocket hankie over his nose and wept most bitterly. The sounds of his woe were so loud that everyone in Potter Pinner Meadow came hurrying to see whatever was wrong. At first, they all said "I told you so" and "serve you right," but afterwards they were sorry.  That night Timothy slept on Mr. Pricklewig's sofa and the next morning all the inhabitants of Potter Pinner Meadow, including Timothy attended another Indignation Meeting.

This time it was decided that Timothy should make his way to Black Bramble Wood and consult Old Madam Mole. It was already afternoon by the time Timothy came in sight of the wood the sky was cloudy and dark, and a cold wind was rustling through the grass. Black Bramble Wood looked damp and dark and dangerous. Timothy shivered in his shoes and wished he was snug in his comfortable bed, but when he remembered he no longer had a comfortable bed it made him so angry he got quite brave.


Old Madam Mole rocked backwards and forwards in her rocking chair and began to think.  “Fetch me the little green bottle from the cupboard” she said.  “The next time you see Farmer Wraggs, empty the contents over him.  Be careful not to miss and remember the effect only lasts for one day.” 

Back at Potter Pinner Meadow, Timothy and his friends were busy building him a new home when a young rabbit came dashing down the meadow crying “He’s coming!” quick as a flash Mrs. Brownwing circled high above Farmer Wraggs and sprinkled the magic potion over him.  At once, he began to shrink and grow smaller and smaller until eventually he turned into a frog!  Tatters began barking at his former master. “Down, Tatters, down!” cried Farmer Wraggs but “croak, croak, croak” meant nothing to Tatters who kept on barking. The poor farmer became so frightened he jumped high into the air and landed in a bed of nettles.




As soon as Tatters went away the animals began to lecture Farmer Wraggs on his disgraceful behaviour. He was made to spend the day mending Timothy Tidmarsh’s broken china. He was also forced to darn Mr. Pricklewig’s coats and iron his waistcoats.  It didn’t take long for Farmer Wraggs to promise to mend his ways, and that was exactly what he did.  


~~~~~~~~~~

M.M. Kaye, (born Aug. 21, 1908, Simla, India—died Jan. 29, 2004, Lavenham, Suffolk, Eng.), British writer and illustrator who captured life in India and Afghanistan during the Raj in her immensely popular novel The Far Pavilions (1978). The daughter of a British civil servant working in India, Kaye spent her early childhood there. She was sent to boarding school in England at age 10. After graduating from art school in England, she found work as an illustrator and soon began to write. She married a British army officer in 1945. Before achieving worldwide success with The Far Pavilions she wrote a number of children’s books (as Mollie Kaye), several detective and historical novels and three volumes of autobiography. [Encyclopaedia Britannica.]

M. M. Kaye dedication from Potter Pinner Meadow.


Margaret Mary Tempest, (May 15, 1892, Ipswich, Suffolk, Eng. – died 1982, Ipswich, Suffolk, Eng.),  British writer and illustrator attended Ipswich Art School and later moved to London to study at the Westminster School of art from which she graduated in the summer of 1914. She went on to the Royal Drawing School but was already planning the formation of a society of women illustrators with twenty other talented girls from the School of Art. Between 1919 and 1939 they put on annual exhibitions and ran a successful business, selling their work and producing commercial material including Christmas cards. She began illustrating Little Grey Rabbit books in 1929 and continued to do so into the 1960s, by which time 34 titles had appeared. [I’ve included images of all the Little Grey Rabbit books in three previous posts – here, here and here] Margaret also wrote and illustrated children's books of her own, with characters called Curley Cobbler and Pinkie Mouse. She illustrated books by M. M. Kaye, Rosalind Vallance, Elizabeth Laird, and many other authors. She also found time to design postcards for the Medici Galleries. Between the wars she lived in London during the week, and apart from her illustration work she taught drawing to the children of most of the aristocratic houses in London. In 1939 Margaret returned to the Ipswich area and  married her cousin, Sir Grimwood Mears, a former Chief of Justice in Allahabad, in 1951. Sir Grimwood died in 1963 at the age of 93. Margaret died in 1982 aged 90 and by then she had become afflicted with Parkinson's Disease and could no longer draw. [The Ipswich Society.]

42 comments:

  1. What delightful illustrations - I always loved the Little Grey Rabbit books and these are much in the same ilk - those characters look just like Fuzzypeg and Squirrel. I also had some of the gorgeous Medici postcards. Maybe I still have one or two - she had an enchanting style.

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    1. Hello Sue, you are quite right they are very similar to the Grey Rabbit books, and I love them too. I don’t have any of the postcards, but you’ve just set me off on another quest.

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    2. ... and while you are on your Medici quest, look for Molly Brett, too!

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    3. I will, I love her illustrations.

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  2. Hi Barbara, though death is inevitable, the thought of Margaret not being able to draw toward the end of her life is still sad. The story however is, like Sue said, delightful. Lol imagine an Indignation Meeting! I love the illustrations and typography in the book and am so happy for you to have found these two gems!

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    1. Hi Claudine, being unable to do the thing she loved must have been very difficult, but she left behind a wonderful legacy for the rest of us to enjoy.
      I am often indignant so one of those meetings would suit me very well!

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  3. I loved looking at the illustrations! Beautiful! The books you found are such treasures. These are stories I would have loved growing up and still fall into today. :) The street view you shared- look so magical. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. It was my pleasure Stephanie, thank you for visiting.

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  4. Gorgeous illustrations
    Julie xxxxxx

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    1. Some beautiful illustrations there Barbara, and I love that street scene. I still remember the Hovis advert; it was one of my favourites. :)

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    2. Hi Heather, I remember the advert too so it was quite a surprise to find the street and remember where I first saw it. We’ve lived close to Shaftsbury for 19 years now so it no longer surprises me, but the view from the top of Gold Hill is still enthralling.

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  5. Dearest Barbara! Good morning!

    What can I say but that I must, I NEED to go to England one day. I've spent most of my concentration in France, but truly, these magical places that only lived in books for me are REAL. That steep and glorious hill flanked by adorable homes is a must see. Then, there are the books...

    I have always wondered what it is about British culture that has influenced so many successful artists (writers, artist, musicians) that have touched our lives. The blend of nature, industry, discovery and a heritage of great literature has produced such an effective means of story telling.BRAVO. And it sure is good to see you! Anita

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    1. Hello Dear Anita, I agree you must come to England. It would be my absolute pleasure to show you the view from the top of Gold Hill, and/or stroll down it and struggle back up! There are lots of little coffee shops in the town, so we could share some refreshments if you had the time. Hugs Barbara

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  6. Shaftsbury sounds like a lovely place that I would enjoy visiting. I didn't realize M.M. Kaye wrote children's books as well. How talented to write in a number of genres and age groups!

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    1. Hello Darlene, I'm sure you would love Shaftsbury! Perhaps you and Anita (see previous comment) should coordinate your visit, and the three of us could get together.

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    2. What a delightful idea. Must keep it on mind!

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  7. Beautiful scenery and beautiful books. Yet another author/artist I've never heard of. Those illustrations are so adorable! Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Hi Diane, it was my pleasure, thank you for calling in. Barbara.

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  8. I thought I recognised that street. I wouldn't like to live at the top. Lovely illustrations. Timeless.

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    1. Well Roger...Shaftesbury is a favourite town
      of mine, more so, than the one l live in!
      Just to say, next time your in Shaftesbury,
      there's a superb cafe/restaurant at the very
      top. Wish l'd had a pound (£) for times l've
      been in there! :).

      And..Yes! It's famous for the Hovis loaf...But,
      it always reminds me of a sketch in the 'Two
      Ronnie's'. :).

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    2. Hello Roger and Willie, it is quite a walk but there is a pub at the bottom (I've tried it) and as mentioned by Willie a coffee shop at the top (not tried it yet but must do so soon) so the effort is well worthwhile. Thanks both for commenting, Barbara.

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  9. Those look like fun books (perhaps inspired by Beatrix Potter among others). I never realized M. M. Kaye wrote for children, too. I always seem to notice life spans and it's refreshing that both she and her illustrator lived such long lives. Shaftsbury looks delightful, what a view! Although rather steep for sightseeing.

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    1. Hi Marcia, they are fun! I love them and will share the other one at a later date. It took me a while to realise Mollie Kaye was the same person as M.M. Kaye. She led a fascinating life – well worth looking up on Google if you ever have the time. I’ve walked up Gold Hill a few times. It is pretty tiring but well worth the effort.

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  10. What wonderful books. I love the font (handwritten?) and illustrations.

    I'm definitely going to have to visit Shaftesbury sometime, but that hill is going to take some climbing!

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    1. Hello Nikki-ann, put your walking boots and give it a go, there is a nice coffee shop at the top and a pub at the bottom so you can relax at either end!

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  11. That place looks amazing, so calm and beautiful. Those illustrations are so cute. Thank you for sharing such a lovely post Barbara:)

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    1. Hello Aunt Mary, it was my absolute pleasure. Thank you for taking the time to call in and leave a comment. Barbara x

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  12. Oh my goodness, loving those hedgehog illustrations.

    A great source for finding older books, I love charity shops and have found our local hospice shop great in that they'll go out of their way to help.

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    1. Hello Tracy, me too! Aloysius Pricklewig is such a great character and how funny to think of his bristles coming through his clothes. I’ve always enjoyed a good rummage in charity shops. I would rather shop there than in ordinary shops – although I do love a good new or second hand bookshop too.

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  13. Dearest Barbara, I am very honored to see you came by my blog! Thank you! After not having comments activated for so long, I wasn't sure anyone would come by! I had trouble reactivating them, but finally, they worked. I hope you are well and I really appreciate your kind words. How I love this post of yours!

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    1. Hello Anita, I was thrilled to find a lovely new post to enjoy, thank you so much for sharing it. I’m sure all your friends will be rushing back as soon as they know you are there! Have a wonderful rest of the week my friend. xx

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  14. Hi Barbara,

    Once again, I visit your wonderful site and once again, I'm transported back to my childhood with those books by Mollie Kaye. The illustrations are magical, just like the childhood memories it induces.

    I love Shaftsbury. One of the most photographed villages in England.

    Thank you, Barbara.

    Gary :)

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    1. Hello Gary, I’m not surprised Shaftsbury is so often photographed it really is a lovely place.
      I’m so pleased you enjoyed Potter Pinner Meadow; it is my new most favourite book!
      Thanks for calling xx

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  15. Greetings once again dearest Barbara! I had started a comment about these books and seem to have somehow deleted or lost it.So I shall try to do it all over again!
    Imagine my delight when I just saw these gorgeous old books which I actually have in my collection here in Oz!!! I could hardly believe my eyes! They are such super stories with great characters. I must thank you for all the information about Shaftsbury,where you found this pair of treasures,which is simply stunning! I can remember seeing the Hovis ad thanks to my research and love of all these fabulous things.I have many super Hovis ads in print in my old kids' annuals and I LOVE them! With the one you have featured,I recall always feeling so sad for that poor little lad as he goes up that immense hill! And now I know where the gorgeous hill is!! Thanks again so much! Getting back to the books though! The characters are,as I mentioned,so wonderful and the prose is delightfully worded,so perfect for kids to enjoy,as well as for parents to enjoy reading aloud to the smaller littlies! The illustrations, as with all works I so far know of Margaret Tempest,get the imaginations of all and sundry working to their best abilities.She was such a talent for so long,and like anyone who loses their health in such a major way,it must have been very hard for her,as well as sad. But we must always remember all of the pleasure and the joy she has shared with the world. I never cease to love and enjoy any illustrations which I have discovered through my collection of old children's books. I only hope that the internet will be teaching many new generations of collectors all about this early pre-computer talent which filled the world during that incomparable Golden Age of Illustration.
    Until next time,my love and smiles,always, Jules in Oz

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    1. Hello Jules, I’m so sorry blogger lost your comment – it does that sometimes, and I know how frustrating it can be. I can never remember what I was trying to say so I hate having to start over.
      Do you have Willow Witches Brook? I don’t have it, but I am keeping my eyes open for a reasonably priced copy. You are absolutely right with what you say about Margaret Tempest, she was an incredibly talented lady. I’ve always loved her work, and Potter Pinner Meadow certainly showcases it.
      It can’t have been easy filming the Hovis ad. I'm sure the bike must have been very heavy, and I expect it took more than one go to get it right. I puff and pant getting up that hill without pushing a bike! Terry and I always have to have at least three stops on the way up – just to catch our breath while standing staring at the beauty all around us. Thanks as always for calling in, I enjoy reading about your thoughts. Barbara xx

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  16. I'm not sure how I missed this blog post, Barbara, but how glad I am to have found it now. It really makes the perfect bedtime story for any and every age. Wishing you good night. X

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    1. Thank you so much Marilyn. I know how easy it is to miss posts having just been over to your blog and found three I hadn’t read. Still catching up is always a treat. Have a lovely day x

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  17. Hi Barbara, I seem to have lost the plot with your blog, I've been so busy with Mum and husband's problems.

    I think I have been to that hill, when I was visiting friends down there. I so love the illustrations in these old books and there's one which reminds me of what I think your shop used to look like. I do need to sit down and catch up.

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    1. Not to worry Anne Marie, real life has to come first sometimes. It really is hard to keep up to date with everything I struggle with that all the time. It is supposed to be easier now I’m retired, but I must be slowing down or something!
      You probably have been to Gold Hill when visiting friends, most people in this area are pretty proud of it.

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  18. Dear Barbara, sorry have not visited you for awhile as my hubby was ill and I have been very busy driving him up and down to London to the hospital. I hope to catch up with it all slowly. Loved this post of your. When I went to India recently I visited the palace where the TV adaptation of the far Pavillions was filmed. I did not know that MM Kaye had also written such adorable stories for children.

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    1. Hello Shashi, I’m so sorry to hear about your hubby, and I do hope he will be better soon. You are incredibly brave driving up and down to London! I can honestly say I never have and never will drive in or even close to London. The thought of it makes me quake!
      I was surprised to find that MM Kaye wrote for children, but I’m glad she did as the books are beautiful.
      Thank you for taking the time to visit while you have so much going on. Barbara xx

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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