Sunday, 27 September 2009
Between 1978 and 1981, Malcolm Saville corresponded with Mary Cadogan, the writer on children's literature. She was planning a biographical book which did not in the end come to pass.
You can read some of these, and other letters on here
Monday, 31 August 2009
ODE talks elsewhere of simultaneous publication and broadcast, which is about right, since the decision to broadcast and the preparations must have been pre-publication. Whether the story had been commissioned for broadcast is beyond the evidence - a new untested writer being asked to write a war story is unlikely, and more likely that Sleigh knew Saville (Geoffrey Trease was a common friend and confirms the friendships in his autobiography) and liked the story which she had read pre-publication (although I am uncertain whether she knew Saville prior to the broadcast decision). A spy story perhaps suited the feel of the time, when threat of invasion had receded and children could feel empowered to contribute to the war effort. In fact, MI6 histories report that by this time spies were not much of a threat so that popular vigilance endangered innocent aliens more than spies.
ODE gives a detailed footnote (352-3 fn45) confirming these timings and commenting on the experienced cast. This had not been an economy production. ODE comments at length (253-7) that Mystery at Witchend was Saville's best book.
Tuesday, 30 June 2009
The society promote walking trips to Saville locations, publish a magazine/journal called Acksherley!, and organise an annual Gathering in April. Their website is at www.witchend.com. MSS recently received its 1000th membership application.
Other series were the Jillies (6 books, 1948-53) starting in Norfolk with two families, the Jillions and Standings who meet on holiday in Blakeney, in Redshanks Warning. They meet up again in London, the Pennines , Ely, Austria and finally the home counties. In the Buckingham’s series (6 books 1950–74 starting with The Master of Maryknoll), children befriend the son of a famous exiled Polish violinist. Venues range from Ludlow, Shropshire, to north Yorkshire, Brighton, London, Italy, Amsterdam.
In these series for older children, friendship and romance are never far away. For older teenagers, the Marston Baines thriller-romances (1962-1978) echo James Bond, a master spy whose university student friends get into some serious difficulties with terrorists, anti-semites, drug dealers, black magic and mafia. For younger children there were two series: Mary and Michael (1945-57) were Londoners who were sent to the country and get to Cornwall, Dorset, Sussex, and the Grand Union Canal.
The first book, Trouble at Townsend (1945), of their life on a farm, became a film. Susan and Bill were children who moved to a new town (unspecified): stories describe their settling in experiences as well as their holidays, including one in a railway camping coach. The Nettleford series are experiences of village and farm life for young children. Two books never resulted in series: Treasure at the Mill (1957); and The Thin Grey Man (1966).
Malcolm Saville also wrote non-fiction, generally on country themes (such as Country Scrapbook, Open-Air Scrapbook, and Seaside Scrapbook of the 1940s, encouraging post-war outdoor pursuits and holidays. There were two main religious books, King of Kings (1958, a life of Jesus) and Strange Story (1967, the crucifixion seen through the eyes of contemporary Roman children).