Thursday, 12 March 2015

Raymond Sheppard and The Favourite Wonder Book (Part Two)

Favourite Wonder Book title page
(Art opposite is by Reginald Mount)

In my previous blog article about this Odhams title I expressed frustration about editions, dates, endpapers, etc etc. And now I discover that this was justified!

Endpapers (Artist Unknown)
I happened to keep a search alert going on eBay for this book hoping that one day I might find out what went on with its publication and amazingly I have discovered something else that helps me in my search for Raymond Sheppard's work. I showed the illustration to 'Little Trotty Wagtail' in the above mentioned blog and it appears on page 183 in my two copies of the book, one with a reprint date and one with no date.It was only when looking carefully at the title page (above) that one ebayer had uploaded to eBay I noticed that the name P.G. Wodehouse was the first name listed. My copies have A.A.Milne as the first name listed.

I asked the question whether Sheppard had illustrated anything (knowing about the wagtail illustration in mine) and imagine my surprise when they replied about the wagtail and 'Time Signals'

Five older boys chase and threaten three younger schoolboys
The story is about the "Dipcote First Boat race" and I must confess was a struggle to read, not just because of the dated language and school terminology but because, to be honest, I found it very boring! Here are the other pictures in the story.

Could they regain that extra half length?
Two boats in a race with coxs and a crowd on the river bank

Softly Jimmy crept forward
Two boys sneak into a a sleeping man's bedroom. They both hold alarm clocks

A policeman disentangled the combatants
A policeman pulls a man in pyjamas off a top-hatted gentleman on a cobbled street

And for completeness sake and for other collectors, here are the contents of this 1938 version of Odham's Favourite Wonder Book. There are 768 pages in this edition of the book.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

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

Here's the third and final part of my long article on Olivia FitzRoy and her books, focusing on "The Hunted Head" - the last of her novels. She was born eight years after Raymond Sheppard and died 11 year after him, both passing away from cancer (Sheppard at the age of 45; FitzRoy 48). Both author and artist died too young but both were prolific, with their work appearing together for just two books, to my knowledge.

I couldn't track down any books of poetry by FitzRoy but found a couple online. Strangely, FitzRoy gets a mention in Radical Visions: Poetry by Vietnam Veterans,  by Vicente F. Gotera (p.16 ):
Olivia FitzRoy was stationed in Ceylon as a flight direction officer with the Women's Royal Naval Service during WWII. Her poem "Toast" captures another side of war - utter ennui. The poem opens with a convincingly detailed description of setting:
All the way back from the air field
Along the jolting road,
Past the paddy fields
And the mud-covered water-buffalo,
I've been pretending to myself
That I am not thinking about letters

She is mentioned in other war poetry anthologies - even with erroneous biographical details - maybe one day her poems may be published.

To continue the last set of images drawn by Raymond Sheppard from "The Hunted Head"
The Hunted Head, p.123
"Armand handed her into the dinghy with a flourish"
Group of sailors take girl on row boat at quayside
The above image is just the sort of composition from Sheppard I find satisfying; it has a great point of view, the people are interesting, what's happening is well staged and the background is detailed enough to hold interest too.

The Hunted Head, p.129
Two people lie on floorboards

The Hunted Head, p.138
Girl with flowing cape rides horse uphill [same as dustjacket spine]

The Hunted Head, p.139
Border Collie

The Hunted Head, p.146
An eagle

The Hunted Head, p.153
Portrait of man

The Hunted Head, p.154
Dirk in scabbard

The Hunted Head, p.162
"“Come out or I fire!”"
Man, girl and boy in cave aim at uniformed soldier
Sheppard must have perfected 'cave drawing' by this time as he also does one in the Adventures of Tome Sawyer - see last picture - the light source gives him the opportunity to have large shadows and dramatic lighting.
The Hunted Head, p.164
A flintlock pistol

The Hunted Head, p.173
Portrait of man – Bonnie Prince Charlie

Compare Sheppard's portrait to the famous one (reproduced here from Wikipedia page couretsy of the national Galleries of Scotland Google Art Project)

The Hunted Head, p.174
"Fiona knew she would never forget that scene"
Several men in cave

The Hunted Head, p.187
Open Bible
FitzRoy ends the novel with the place and date it was written: Rarsaidh: 1954.