Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Raymond Sheppard and The Hunted Head by Olivia Fitzroy (Part Two)

The Hunted Head, p.49
"A boy wrapped in a torn Stewart plaid"
A boy with his deerhound open door to another older boy with stick in hand

In an article entitled "Wars and other diversions" written by Mary Crozier (Guardian Oct 5, 1956) she writes:"History sometimes pulls the contemporary world into its orbit. Recently some of the hardy boys and girls whose summer holidays have yielded such a crop of daring doings, have slipped back into the past so that everyone gets the best of both worlds. A crack on the head is a simple and sufficient entry visa. In "The Hunted Head" this is just what happens. We start with the contemporary James and Fiona of earlier books by this author, but when James has a fall the whole family is, in his unconsciousness, transported into Jacobite times and there is a stirring story of hardship, courage and travel all for the sake of Bonnie Prince Charlie. One may deplore the ease of this device but apart from that the story is good; the hills and glens, the chase and escape, are in the Stevenson tradition and there are better than average dialogue and character-drawing"  

Unfortunately no mention of Raymond Sheppard's illustrations but that's not unusual for the time.

The Hunted Head, p.49
Two boys lying in ferns watch troops approaching

The Hunted Head, p.56
Older man carries girl in his arms

The Hunted Head, p.66
Girl shows man a hiding place under rocks

The Hunted Head, p.75
Man looks over shoulder as he struggles with a full sack over his shoulder

Olivia FitzRoy (sometimes 'Fitz Roy') bibliography

1) Orders to Poach
London : Collins, 1942
The Stewart family return to a cottage on the family estate for the summer holidays, their father being in Burma writes to express his concern that the tenant of the estate is refusing to manage the estate properly with regard to the shooting and fishing. Thus, their father asks his children, ranging in age from debutante Fiona and Old Etonian Ninian to twelve year old twins Jean and Jamie, to poach the land over the summer in order to keep down the deer and salmon.   

2) Steer by the Stars ... Illustrated by Anne Bullen.

London : Collins, 1944.
The Stewarts have returned to Carrick Lodge on the west coast of Scotland for another summer holiday, and this time they have a boat of their own, the Fauna. Naturally this adds to their fun enormously, and they have a wonderful time sailing, camping and fishing together besides having some very exciting and unexpected adventures.

3) The House in the Hills ... Illustrated by Phyllida Lumsden.

London : Collins, 1946.
Fiona, Ninian and Hugh find a dilapidated old croft in the wild hills of Scotland; they paint and repair it to make a wonderful home for themselves.  Of course it is the perfect place for adventures too: they stalk deer, they sail in the Black Swan and with the help of the mysterious Fergus, search for a legendary cave

4) The Hill War ... illustrated by Shirley Hughes.
London : Collins, 1950.Significant as this was Shirley Hughes first commercial work

Ninian, Fiona, Sandy, Jamie and Jean, the family whose holidays on the West Coast of Scotland have been described in Orders to Poach, Steer by the Stars, and The House in the Hills, appear again in this book. It covers the first few days of another summer together at the Lodge below their old home, with eight square miles of mountains, glens and deer forest to roam over. On the first day Ninian and Fiona quarrel, and Fiona, followed only by Sandy, storms off into the hills. These two hide from the rest, living in a cave, making raids on the house for food, and foiling Ninian in his attempts to shoot of fish without them. There are lovely parts in this book which tell of waking up in the morning to wash in the burn, and dropping off to sleep at night to the sounds of water and the sight of the first pale stars. There are exciting chases and narrow escapes. There is a particularly strong feeling for that part of the country, so that the reader begins to know exactly what the wood round the Lodge is like, and how the rocks break through the shorts of the loch and the sea shows between the headlands far away.
At the end of the week a truce is made between the parties. The awkward patch, that can so often occur between the end of term and the beginning of holidays, is over, and the summer can really begin. -Thanks to Watermill Books on eBay who have a copy of this rare book for sale on eBay

5) Wandering Star ... With drawings by Sheila Rose.
London : Collins, 1953.
[No description - the name of Fergus' boat - see "Island of birds" below]

6) The Island of Birds ... Illustrated from drawings by Raymond Sheppard.
London : Jonathan Cape, 1954.
Jamie and Jean Stewart are convalescing after measles at Carrick on the west coast of Scotland. Their housekeeper, Maggie, is looking after them, but they are depressed because their family and friends are away and they can find nothing interesting to do. But one day a friend. Fergus, does arrive, and persuades Maggie to let him take them to his island in his fishing boat, the Wandering Star. They are delighted to learn that they are to act as crew for the voyage, and that Fergus's Island of Birds is forty miles beyond the Outer Hebrides. They enjoy exploring the island with its deserted village, keeping house in the cottage Fergus has rebuilt for himself, fishing and watching birds, including a pair of rare sea-eagles which have nested on the cliffs. An unexpected interruption of their happiness is the arrival of two shady characters who pretend to Jean, whom they find alone in the cottage, that they are friends of Fergus's. Inadvertently she gives away the secret of the sea-eagles' nest. From then on Fergus and the children are defenders in a battle to protect the valuable eggs from the two would-be thieves. The Island of Birds proves to be an even more exciting place than Jean and James had bargained for. Here is a desert island with a difference and a 'treasure' with a difference. What better setting could there be for a story about the protection of rare birds than the Western Isles, beyond which lies the well-known sanctuary of St. Kilda?’ 

7) Wagons & Horses. With drawings by Mary Gernat.

London : Collins, 1955.
In Wagons and Horses Olivia Fitz Roy tells a brilliantly real story of the circus, based entirely on her long practical experience of 'tenting'. Her chief characters are Mike, Mary and Nicky, circus children who are left orphaned and in desperate need. They come across their cousins who own Fisherfield's Circus: they are taken on by them, and spend an exciting 'tenting' season, touring the country and taking part in the busy round of circus life. Olivia Fitz Roy does not dwell only on the glamour of the 'big top'. She presents circus life in the round, with its back-breaking hard work and drudgery, its rivalries and jealousies, its frantic behind-the-scenes panics, as well as its exciting moments of reward and thrilling achievement.

8) The Hunted Head ... Illustrated from drawings by Raymond Sheppard.
London : Jonathan Cape, 1956.
For description see previous blog article

9) Men of valour: the third volume of the history of VIII King's Royal Irish Hussars, 1927-1958. With a foreword by H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh, Colonel of the Regiment. Liverpool: Printed by C. Tinling & Co.Ltd., 1961

The Hunted Head, p.76
A Scots portrait in shadow

The Hunted Head, p.85
"They stood as still as tree trunks in the water"
[Same as dustjacket]

The Hunted Head, p.86
Waxing crescent moon behind clouds

The Hunted Head, p.87
Man and two boys crawl on fronts

The Hunted Head, p.97
Older woman points to girl (panelled wall behind)

The Hunted Head, p.108
Castle aflame with people around it

The Hunted Head, p.109
Man lying asleep on the ground

The Hunted Head, p.115
Girl stands in wreck of castle

Part Three...\

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Raymond Sheppard and The Hunted Head by Olivia Fitzroy (Part One)

Dustjacket to "The Hunted Head" 1956

I own a copy of "The Island of Birds" (1954) by Olivia FitzRoy (who died in 1969 at the young age of 48) but it's a proof copy with no dustjacket. But I do have a copy of her sequel, which involved the same characters, Jean and James Stewart, and she used them again in three other books which Sheppard did not illustrate: Orders to Poach, Steer By The Stars, and House In The Hills - all three of which are currently published by Vanessa Robertson's imprint Fidra Books . I had no reply to an email I sent to Vanessa regarding using some of her FitzRoy biography so I hope this promotion of her reprints may lead her to forgive me if i have used any of her facts.

The thistle looks like Sheppard's work

Olivia FitzRoy was born on 27 May in 1921, one of five sisters and, as long as I have the right person, she was popular as a bridesmaid being mentioned in The Times in July 1930 and twice in 1931. In 1943 she is mentioned as having attended her sister Mary's wedding to Anthony Dermot Musker. She is also listed as a Godmother to their first child in 1943.

Olivia's turn came when The Times announced the engagement of Sir Geoffrey Bates, Baronet and Miss O. FitzRoy on 11 July 1957 and their wedding on 31 July at Bardwell, Suffolk. Bates lived in Chester and FitzRoy, it states, lived in Uppingham, Rutland so I'd love to think they met at some social occasion. The wedding took place at St. Peter and St. Paul Bardwell (north-east of Bury St Edmunds) at 2.30pm. Olivia's full name is given as "Miss Olivia Gwyneth Zoƫ FitzRoy, second daughter of the Captain the Hon. R.O. and Mrs FitzRoy". Her father was mentioned in despatches "for services as Captain of HMS Rodney during the Invasion of Normandy".


This overview hides the tragedies that Geoffrey Bates and Olivia's stories included. She lost a fighter pilot boyfriend - a blogger shares a poem she wrote expressing her sorrow  - and he lost his first wife Kitty in 1956 after only 11 years of marriage. His first wife died suddenly after a minor operation, while one of his daughters was killed by a car when walking along a road. Geoffrey saw heroic action in Egypt in 1941, saving his squadron in an act of bravery but also made an almost fatal mistake whilst fighting. On Christmas Eve 1969, when Olivia died of cancer at the age of 48, he still had his four children and Gyrn Castle, Holywell, Clwyd to run. As the North Wales Daily Post tells us in his obituary he remarried only to lose his third wife, whom he married in 1971, Juliet Whitelocke, who died in 2003. A tragic family story.

The Hunted Head, p.15
James and Jean lead a horse home

But back in somewhat happier times she spent her summers in Inverewe, on the coast of the far northwest of mainland Scotland. To quote Fidra Books

Olivia’s younger sister, Barbara, tells how all the family were avid readers and, as shopping opportunities in the Highlands were limited, Olivia wrote Orders to Poach to entertain her younger sisters, based on their own large family and the activities with which they occupied themselves, although Carrick House and the Lodge are imaginary. Orders to Poach was published in 1942 and six more books concerning the Stewart family appeared during the 1940s and ‘50s. During the War, Olivia served in the WRNS as a fighter direction officer, stationed first at Yeovilton and later in Ceylon. Apparently, she would write in freezing aircraft hangers, huddled in an overcoat. After the war, when she lost a boyfriend who was a fighter-pilot, she travelled with Chipperfield’s Circus, later basing Wagons and Horses on her experiences, before moving to a croft in Scotland where she lived for most of the early 1950s. Olivia had little time for writing after she married Sir Geoffrey Bates in 1957 but continued to hunt and went stalking in Scotland whenever possible. She had two daughters, Celina and Sarah, and died of cancer in 1969 at only 48. In a tragically short life, Olivia wrote a number of marvellous books and some beautiful poetry. Her sister Barbara says of their somewhat unconventional education: “I feel sure that Olivia would never have had so much originality of thought and style if she had had to conform at school.”

The Hunted Head, p.19
James is helped up

The Hunted Head, p.27
A deerhound

The Hunted Head, p.31
"Along the drove-road a little cavalcade was approaching"
Girl and boy and deerhound in doorway look as riders approach them

The Hunted Head, p.37
Man wearing Tam O'Shanter talks to girl 

The Hunted Head, p.44
Naked toddler in the Loch

The Hunted Head, p.45
JGirl dreams leaning her head on her hands 
Part Two to follow....\