Sunday, 30 March 2014

Marion St John (Adcock) Webb

Marion St. John Adcock was the elder daughter of Arthur St. John Adcock the distinguished poet. Her first book, The Littlest One, published in 1914, was enormously successful, as were the Mr. Papingay books.

"A Pillar-box. A quite ordinary-looking pillar-box. Or was it? That was what Robin was to find out. And without this ordinary - or extraordinary pillar-box, there could have been no story - no funny, fantastic adventures with Mr. Papingay, and the Home-made fairy, and Penny and all the rest of them..."

Marion was born in West Hampstead, London in 1888. Sometime later the family moved to Neasden and it was here that Marion made friends with a large family of children called the Whitcombes. However, it wasn't long before the family moved back to Hampstead and Marion, no doubt missing her friends, began to play with her little sister Almey and lots of imaginary friends.

Marion and Almey met a great many writers, journalists and artists who came to visit their father and mother, some of them quite eccentric, some brilliant and entertaining. The girls would listen as their father talked of his work and about the plots of the stories he was writing. He had ceased regular visits to the City because he had decided to be a writer instead of a lawyer. He wrote novels, stories, articles and verse for magazines and newspapers.  

Arthur St. John Adcock 1864 - 1930 was an English novelist and poet, remembered for his discovery of the then unknown poet W. H. Davies. Adcock was a Fleet Street journalist for half a century, and editor of The Bookman)

The family lived at 25 Downshire Hill for six years and then moved across the road to number 43, by this time Marion was growing up and she, her sister, their cousin May, and a friend formed themselves into a theatrical group and were often requested to perform plays at parties. Marion took up drawing and painting and for a time, resolved to be an artist. She also became an enthusiastic tennis player, and joined a tennis club where she met Sidney Hastings Webb a keen amateur actor and playwright.

After eleven years at Downshire Hill, it was decided the family would move from London to Rickmansworth, in Hertfordshire. Marion had more or less given up the idea of being an artist and for a time she concentrated on singing and began to take lessons, but at the same time she was editing an amateur magazine called "The Spur" and it was for a competition in "The Spur" that she wrote her "Littlest One" poem. All poems were submitted anonymously, and the best one was decided by vote, and the "Littlest one" went on to win first prize. Later, the poem was published in "The Daily News" and eventually Marion wrote enough poems to be published in book form the title of which was "The Littlest One"  

Marion married Sidney Hastings Webb and they went to live at Leigh-On-Sea. Here she wrote a story called Knock Three Times and from then on her books, stories and verses appeared at regular intervals. The best loved of all her books are probably the "Papingay" series of which there are four - The Little Round House, Mr. Papingay's caravan, Mr. Papingay's flying shop and Mr. Papingay's ship.

After a while, Marion and Sidney moved back to London where they resided at Number One, Pump Court, Temple just of Fleet Street. Though now frail, Marion continued to lead an active and busy life publishing several more books, and contributing to various magazines. Five years before she died she had a serious illness which kept her in bed for the best part of a year. She acquired a car during her illness and when she was well enough visited many parts of England, Scotland and France where she continued to work sitting in her car with a portable typewriter on her knee.

The "London Evening News" said of her: If you believed in fairies you could easily believe that Mrs. Webb was in close touch with the Little People. Marion died in 1930.

'Littlest' Books
The Littlest one (Illustrated by Margaret W. Tarrant - Harrap, 1914)
The Littlest One - his book (Illustrated by M. W. Tarrant and K. Nixon - Harrap, 1923)
The Littlest one again (illustrated by M. W. Tarrant and K. Nixon - Harrap, 1923)
The littlest one - his book and the littlest one again (Illustrated by A. H. Watson - Harrap, 1927)
The Littles one's third book (Harrap, 1928)
The littlest one in between (Harrap, 1929)

'Mr. Papingay' Books
The Little Round House (Illustrated by 'Robin' - S. Paul and Co, 1924)
Mr. Papingay's ship (illustrated by 'Robin' - S. Paul and Co, 1925)
The Little Round House (as 'Mr Papingay and the Little Round house' - Newnes, 1936)
Mr Papingay's caravan (Illustrated by Frank Rogers - Collins, 1929)
Mr Papingay's flying shop (Illustrated by Frank Rogers - Collins, 1931)
Mr Papingay's ship (Newnes, 1936)
The Little Round House (Illustrated by Jean Walmsley Heap - Collins, 1956
Mr. Papingay's ship (Illustrated by Jean Walmsley Heap - Collins, 1957)

Knock three times (Illustrated by Margaret W. Tarrant - Harrap, 1917)
The girls of Chequertrees (Harrap, 1918)
Eliz'beth Phil and Me (Illustrated by Margaret W. Tarratn - Harrap, 1919)
The House with the Twisting Passage (Illustrated by Doris M Palmer - Harrap, 1922)
The magic lamplighter (Illustrated by Margaret w. Tarrant - Medici, 1926)
John and Me and the Dickery dog (Illustrated by A. H. Watson - Harrap, 1930)
Twice Ten (University of Lndon, Press, 1931)

Marion St John Webb also wrote a series of fairy books published in collaboration with Margaret W Tarrant  

Friday, 28 March 2014

Book of the Month; The Weather Fairies by Marion St. John Webb Illustrated by Margaret Tarrant c1924

March winds

and April showers

bring forth May flowers

Listening to the wind and rain outside my window it’s difficult to believe spring has arrived.  I was hoping to take a few photographs today, but due to the inclement weather, I'm reverting to some from previous years.

6th May, 2011
Sunshine, dogs and walking shoes; see original post here

3rd May, 2013
Bluebells at Dunster Castle; see original post here 

The Weather Fairies by Marion St. John Webb 
Published by The Modern Art Society, London. Now sold, thank you for your interest

I love the spring. Do you have a favourite time of the year?

Friday, 21 March 2014

A Peck of Pepper and other books about Peter

What are the odds of the first three books waiting to be listed this morning all having the name Peter in the title? Each was chosen at random, and it was only as I listed book number three that realisation dawned. Was it a coincidence or should I be looking for a hidden meaning?  

Peter and his Indian friends was first out of the box.  So maybe a trip to India is on the cards?

 Next Peter and the Wolf – now what could that mean?

And finally, Peter Pan and Wendy, maybe I really am going to be flying off somewhere! Or perhaps the universe is trying to tell me I'm away with the fairies  : )

Once I started thinking about the name Peter, I realised just how many times it appears in children's books.  This is one of my favourites, although the name doesn't appear in the title;  

A Peck of Pepper with pictures by Faith Jaques

Did you know? A peck is a unit of dry volume, equivalent to 2 gallons or 8 dry quarts or 16 dry pints. Two pecks make a keening, and four pecks make a bushel. 

A quick look through my stock produced a surprising number of ‘Peter Books’ these are just a few;

Peter and his puppy illustrated by Willy Schermele. Peter Graves an extraordinary adventure by William Pene du Bois. Peter Pedal by H. A. Rey.

Ezra Jack Keats Peter's Chair

Peter's Bird Friends written and illustrated by Helen Haywood. Peter and his magic pebble written and illustrated by Peter Schermele. Peter Pippin one of the Blackie's easy reading books illustrated by Frank Adams.

The Peter Stories - a series of little stories told by a boy named Peter. The picture in the centre is taken from Peter a Cat O' One Tail published in 1892 with illustrations by Louis Wain. The World of Uncle Peter - The paper dragon - when Uncle Peter sits down to draw strange things begin to happen. 

On the left Peter Pan illustrated by Nora S Unwin, on the right Peter Pan and Wendy illustrated by Michael Foreman.

Three of the most famous 'Peter characters' are probably Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, Der Struwwelpeter (or Shockheaded Peter) by Heinrich Hoffmann and Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. Can you think of any more?

Update July 2016: All the books featured are now sold. March House books closed on my retirement in 2015, but I am still happily blogging here at March of Time Books. Your visits are always appreciated.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

In My Own Words

I've been busy sifting through old memories and family photographs. It all started with the arrival of this gift from my son and daughter-in-law. 'In My Grandma’s Words' is the story of my life as I remember it. I thought it was going to be difficult, but once I began jotting things down it became easier. It’s amazing how one memory triggers another and having prompts throughout the book was a great help.I returned the completed book to my family during a holiday in Malaysia at the end of last year (see previous post here), but before I pack away the 'photos and memories, I though it would be nice to share some of them with you.

I hope you agree!!

My favourite picture of my dad taken in 1935

This is another photo of dad with two friends; dad is wearing a jacket and tie. Mum used to say she fell in love with him because he was always so smartly dressed. He gave up smoking when I was a little girl but by then he had already damaged his lungs.

Mum and dad were married at The Holy Trinity Church in Walton, Buckinghamshire by the Rev. Brian Hession.

An old, yellowing newspaper clipping described their wedding like this;

One of the prettiest during the Whitsuntide holidays.  The bride, who was given away by her father wore a dress of ankle-length white satin with a veil and halo of orange blossom. She carried a bouquet of pink and white carnations and was attended by her matron of honour who wore an ankle-length white dress with a floral design in blue, green and yellow, a white picture hat, and carried a bouquet of yellow iris. The two bridesmaids wore ankle-length blue satin dresses, and had wreaths of pink and white roses and forget-me-not in their hair. They carried posies of blue corn-flowers.

In the first of the three photos (above) mum and dad and my brother and sister are visiting the Bekonscot model village in Buckinghamshire. I'm guessing the year was 1947 as it was before I was born. I think the other two were taken in the 60s, but I can’t be sure.

These are three of my favourite photographs. The top one was taken on the Isle of Wight. Dad went for a job interview, and we all went along for the day. My sister, brother and I really hoped he would get the job, mainly because there was a swimming pool in the grounds. We also loved this big friendly farm dog.  I have no recollection of what happened, but we didn't live on the island, so I can only assume he didn't get the job.

If you take a close look at the second picture, you might just be able to see the kitten on my knee and a bird (possibly a crow) on the step. We usually had at least one injured bird living with us. The one I remember most was a Jackdaw. He came back for visits long after he was well and always left with a souvenir. He would fly off to the woods with his stolen booty. It amused us to think of a nest full of shiny pens and spoons and other bits and pieces. The nest must be long gone but somewhere in those woods is a little collection of pilfered objects.  

My first job on leaving school was working in a general haberdasher and gent’s outfitters four miles from home. I loved cycling to and from work during the summer but not in the winter when it was often dark and cold. 

Close up of bird and kitten

Terry and I on our wedding day in June 1970. My sister was matron-of-honour, and her daughter Paula was a bridesmaid. There was a second little bridesmaid, but she was too shy to be in the photographs.
Terry and I with our son Steven.

A day trip to London (Terry is behind the camera). We took Kelly the beagle with us, and he loved it! The two little dogs at the bottom are Patch and Albe our much-loved and much missed King Charles Spaniels.

Our son and daughter-in-law were married in Fiji. Terry was best man and is standing to the left of Steven. I'm on the far right. Karen and Steven wore thongs (flip-flops) so we all did the same. 

My memory book ended with this picture of Terry and I with our two little granddaughters in Australia, but I can’t end this post

without mentioning our two grown-up grandsons from our son’s first marriage. Kip and Tris lived in Australia until recently but have now returned to the UK.  This is a 'photo taken on Christmas day 2013. We were thrilled when the boys decided to spend it with us.

This poem by Robert Louis Stevenson perfectly sums up memories of my own childhood. I didn't leave home in a coach but in a flurry of petticoats and confetti!

The coach is at the door at last;
The eager children, mounting fast
And kissing hands, in chorus sing:
Good-bye, good-bye to everything!

To house and garden, field and lawn,
The meadow-gates we swung upon,
To pump and stable, tree and swing,
Good-bye, good-bye, to everything!

And fare you well for evermore,
O ladder at the hayloft door,
O hayloft where the cobwebs cling,
Good-bye, good-bye, to everything!

Crack goes the whip, and off we go;
The trees and houses smaller grow;
Last, round the woody turn we swing:
Good-by, good-bye, to everything!

Have you written down your memories? Or is there someone in your past you wish you knew more about?

Thursday, 6 March 2014

The Story of Snips - A Very Naughty Mouse

Written and illustrated by Angusine Macgregor.

Snips was a very naughty mouse who was always in disgrace. He would never get up when he was called and was always late for breakfast. He pulled the baby's tail, and made her squeak, just as nurse was getting her off to sleep. 

Mr. and Mrs. Mouse were very angry and decided to send Snips to boarding school. 

Snips was made to stand in front of the class wearing a dunce's hat and given dry bread and water for his dinner. Mr. and Mrs. Schoolmaster Mouse were very strict indeed.  

One night Snips made up his mind to run away. He climbed up to a little hole in the ceiling...

and found himself in a big room - the biggest he had ever seen - with a bed in one corner. Sitting in the bed was a great big giant...

How he jumped and the giant after him! Around and around the bed he ran, and the giant gave chase. 

The next morning all the pupils assembled in the Schoolroom, and Mr. Schoolmaster Mouse began reading out their names. When it came to Snips, there was no answer. Mr. Schoolmaster Mouse and all the scholars searched high and low, but found no sign of him. 

A telegram was sent and Mr & Mrs. Mouse lost no time in coming to look for their lost son. 

Just as Mr. Mouse was preparing to squeeze through the hole in the ceiling, a little brown tail appeared.  Never has there been such a reunion! Mr. & Mrs. Mouse were so happy to see Snips they quite forgot to be angry. From then on Snips became a model mouse. 


There is surprisingly little known about the author Angusine (Jeanne) Macgregor, which is astonishing considering she wrote and illustrated a popular series of Ladybird Books.  The series known as Animal Rhymes, introduced a generation of children to the charms of Bunnikin’s, Ginger, Smoke and Fluff, Piggly and Downy Duckling to name just a few. 

Update 21st March, 2014 Marcia over at Marcia Strykowski author blog called in to say she had a different and possibly earlier version of Snips. Marcia has included pictures on her blog - here

Do you ever watch Bargain Hunt on TV and think you could do better than the contestants? Well, this could be your chance simply fill out the application form on the BBC’s Website to apply - Bargain Hunt Be On A Show.

For those of you who don’t watch Bargain Hunt the photograph on the left is of Tim Wonacott the presenter of the show. Tim is a chartered auctioneer and English antiques expert.

If you read last weeks post you may remember I included a recipe for Welsh Tea Cakes. Coincidently Darlene a blogging friend over at Darlene Foster's Blog attended a Welsh Tea Cake making demonstration at her local bookstore.  If you enjoy good food and quality books, you won't want to miss Darlene’s post here.

I would love one of these to go with my morning cuppa!  
Do you have a favourite mid morning snack?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...