Sunday, 1 June 2014

Raymond Sheppard and Blackie's Boys' Annual

John Tipper runs a 'group' on Facebook called "collectingbooksandmagazines" and he spotted a Raymond Sheppard illustration for me in a Blackie's Boys' Annual. He dated it 1938 and my copy has an inscription "September 1938" - as I've said before God bless those Grannies who added an inscription!

The cover of the annual was by D. C. Eyles i.e. Derek Charles Eyles (John Adcock has some more of his illustrations on his excellent blog and Geoff West has some artwork for sale on his Illustration Art Gallery). The first story in this annual is "A Spy in the Lines" by Clive Ryland - a good way of identifying editions of this series of books which tend to have no date.

Blackie's Boys' Annual 1938 Cover by D. C. Eyles
The picture John uploaded is this one of an elephant charging the reader. Interestingly the inserted illustration is on a glossy paper, just like the colour ones by other artists, but Sheppard's is in black and white! It accompanies the story "Moments with elephants" by Theodore Ruete. The author appears to have written around the turn of the 19th to 20th Century and mostly about African subjects - such as "Roads and bridges in Nigeria" in 1928, "Kenya, the cordage colony". An interesting reference turned up to an article in an academic journal to "Japan. The modern world's enigma".in Contemp. Rev. Nov., 1934. The last story I could find was "Northwards to the Nile" in The Pick of Boys' Stories, c.1935.

Blackie's Boys' Annual 1938 opposite p197
The leader of the herd
Note: this plate has number F96 on it

Christine Sheppard showed me the following in her collection of drawings and proofs from books and magazines and it's interesting to see how finished this looks and similar to the above

"Romance of ivory" story

If anyone recognises it I'd love to know where it appeared - especially as we have a clue, but I couldn't track down "romance of ivory" as a story or book title. Here's a sketch (kindly provided by Christine Sheppard) - one of many - where we can see that her father did a lot of studying to produce such authentic looking material.

Elephant head sketch by Raymond Sheppard

John didn't mention the other illustrations by Sheppard for another story,"Bundar, the Hooluck" by Arthur W. Strachan. Strachan's most durable work is Mauled by a Tiger: Encounters in the Indian Jungles in which we learn "this book will appeal to all those who have experienced the beauty and fascination of the Indian jungles", and how the author was mauled himself by a tiger and had two limbs amputated! Most editions have the illustrations drawn by Strachan himself.

Here are the illustrations for Strachan's story of Bundar, the gibbon who grows up from his mother's nursing to independence in the trees and in the interests of research I have read the story and was suprised to find it still as entertaining as I suspect it was 80 years ago. Hylobates Hooluck (or Hoolock) are the genus for the North Indian Gibbon

p.106 Quick as lightning the python struck
A snake catches a monkey as three others swing to safety

p.110 A narrow escape for Bundar
A leopard leaps at four monkeys

p. 113 He fought like a mad thing
Five monkeys with one attacking another

I have another Blackie's Boys' Annual Son and based on book titles advertised on the back cover it was published some time between 1931-1939 and the first story is called “The Camel's Hump”

Blackie's Boys' Annual 193? Cover by D. C. Eyles

Raymond Sheppard illustrated the story "The Saurian" by G. Prescott and from the images below you will see what is meant by 'saurian'.

Opposite p.48:
A luminous and gigantic crocodile was moving rapidly towards them
A crocodile approaches a hunter and "Sammy, his boy"
Note: this plate has number F467 on it
p.49 An oil drum was entangled in the tree's roots
Man in pith helmet points while native in fez looks on

p.50 Crocodile climbs over rock, out of the water

I also have a Blackie's Children's Annual and a copy of a Blackie's Girls' Annual but there for another time!


  1. I'm almost certain that the second Blackie's Boys Annual mentioned here is the 1937 annual. I'm reading it just now, and it is past 1936 -- if the top volume is 1938, then this one has to be either '37 or '39, more likely the former.

    1. Thanks for the information, Anonymous. It is really hard to date these. One day i might spend a holiday in Glasgow and have a look at the Blackie Archives but somehow I suspect I'm asking too much of them!