Saturday, 8 April 2017

Raymond Sheppard and Pony Club Annuals

Pony Club Annual Number 3 p78
"The Fox Cubs" by Raymond Sheppard
The Pony Club started in 1929 and its website states:

The Pony Club is an international voluntary youth organisation for young people interested in ponies and riding. Founded in England in 1929, and granted independent charitable status on 1st January 1997, there are around 345 Branches and 480 Centres in the UK alone. The Pony Club has been the starting point for a large majority of equestrian team members and medal winners.
The Pony Club is represented in no less than 27 countries with a worldwide membership exceeding 110,000 making it the largest association of young riders in the world.
It had 8,350 members in 103 UK branches in 1934 and reached a height of 43,817 members in 365 UK branches in 1982 then fell to its not insignificant current level of 30,674 in 345 branches in 2012.

Jane Badger Books has a full history of the Annual and I can't add anything here but to say Jane Badger Books also has a lovely listing of the annuals and books which is interesting in itself. many thanks to Jane for allowing me to use materials from her site.

Pony Club Annual Number 3 (1952)

The illustration at the top of this article comes from Pony Club Annual, number 3 (1952) and accompanied Frances Pitt's story "The Fox Cubs". The following year Sheppard illustrated another piece by Pitt, "Summer Ride" but this time the reader had to guess the animals and birds. Have a go and I'll reveal the answers at the bottom of this article. I think this Frances Pitt must be the author mentioned in the Wikipedia article. She appears to have written many academic papers as well as some Brooke Bond tea cards album which was ironically illustrated by Sheppard's contemporary Tunnicliffe. A list of her books are on Amazon.

Pony Club Annual Number 4 (1953)

Pony Club Annual Number 4 p111

Pony Club Annual Number 4 p112

Pony Club Annual Number 4 p113

Pony Club Annual Number 4 p114

Pony Club Annual Number 4 p115

Pony Club Annual Number 4 p116

Pony Club Annual Number 4 p119

Now I hope you are playing along!

The next annual Sheppard's work appeared in was Number 6 (1955). "Sure Magic" was written by Monica Edwards (8 November 1912 – 18 January 1998). The story is about a boy called Paul who is desperate to buy a pony but realises that it's near impossible with his pocket money. But a horse called Calluna and Paul's fates are intertwined. The story has been reprinted many times and a quick search of the Internet shows me that John Allsup's fascinating Monica Edwards site lists these as does Clare Noble's site PonyMadBookLovers which I enjoyed browsing for the visuals of covers!

"Staring past him at the snow" - Paul holds horse while snow falls
Pony Club Annual Number 6 p23

"..on long stilty legs" Young foal takes first steps
Pony Club Annual Number 6 p27

"She trotted along willingly enough" - Paul walks goat
Pony Club Annual Number 6 p34

The next was the renamed Pony Club Book, according to Jane Badger as "people might think the articles and stories had appeared elsewhere, when they were all specially a feeling that 'annual'". Sheppard's contribution is printed both on the cover (which I do not own so thank you to Jane Badger for allowing me to use her cover)
Pony Club Book Number 7 (1956)
The image comes from the "Do-this-yourself" feature. This sets a competition to write a story around a Sheppard illustration. Ironically - for me - the editor, I presume, mentions losing the cover or dustjacket, which is what's happened with a lot of copies as I've never seen one before until I nabbed this from Jane Badger's website.

Pony Club Book Number 7 p.50

"She trotted along willingly enough" - Paul walks goat
Pony Club Book Number 7 p51

Pony Club Book Number 8 (1957)
Pony Club Book Number 8 p10
The illustration accompanying "Holiday Ploughboy"

"Holiday Ploughboy", sub-titled "Team-work with the horses on a New Zealand farm" appears uncredited in Pony Club Book number 8 and according to the acknowledgements at the front of this book, appeared in The Times. Because I know you'd want me to track it down, it actually appeared The Times, Saturday, Dec 17, 1955 p.8 and the author is "From a correspondent"!

In addition the picture from the previous book appears again (on p.72) in this volume, where Wendy Ward (of Littlehampton) - 10 to 12 age group- and Selena Fisher (of Ashton, Northampton) - in the 14 and over category- had their stories printed.

I wondered about Naldrett Press, who first published these books and found the Open Library shows a graph with publications predominantly between 1949-1956, but the British Library shows 1948 as the likely start date with books on football, including How to be a referee, cars, cricket, brewing topics, which extend from brewing to the wonderfully named Inn-signia which I guess is a pub signs book. They ventured into autobiography with Fabian of the Yard and the last two books in 1960 are on football. Anyone know anything about them? The Pony Club Annuals/Books, from numbers 6-11 (when publishing moved to Heinemann), were co-published with "The World’s Work (1913) Ltd" with Naldrett.

Well here's the moment you've been waiting for,  the solutions to the questions raised earlier:

Pony Club Annual number 4 p158

p. 110 onwards: Moorhen, Heron, Water-vole, Redstart, Grey Squirrel, Fox
p.119: Rooks, Carrion Crow, Yellow Hammer, Pipit, Great Spotted Woodpecker

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Raymond Sheppard and Watch With Mother

A recent picture by Janet and Ann Grahame-Johnstone uploaded by "Philcom55" to ComicsUK Forum reminded me to write a little about Raymond Sheppard's drawings for "Watch with Mother".

Ann & Janet Grahame-Johnstone's artwork
As far as I can see there were very few books published using this popular TV programme's title as the theme. The series title appears in Andy Pandy  and also Rag, Tag and Bobtail pop-up books in the fifties  and a few story books in the sixties and then The Herbs, The Pogles and Teddy Edwards in the seventies. A few odds and ends were published later but I guess because of the 'naivety' of brand knowledge in the 1950s the - what would now be called - 'franchise' was not extensively used in books. The characters individually had many titles published, it's just "Watch with Mother" that didn't.  So I'm lucky to have a copy of this rarity. Sheppard's signature is missing from all his artwork in the book but his style speaks for itself.
The title page states:
Watch With Mother : Pictures, Stories, Puzzles, and Games based on 
Watch With Mother Programmes 
by arrangement with the BBC
Edited by Freda Lingstrom. 
The rest of the details are London: Publicity Products and bless the British Library who have [1955] as the date (in their case the date of receipt which is as close as I can get)

The White Squirrel by Maria Bird p.6

The stories - all credited - are by Maria Bird (3), Freda Lingstrom (2), Sam Williams, Louise Cochrane (3) and Marjorie Perraton. 
Maria Bird, who wrote the first Sheppard illustrated story, is mentioned on Wikipedia and together with Freda Lingstrom, lost her fiance in the war and lived together in a working relationship in the cottage next to Chartwell in Kent. Once again Steve Holland has captured plenty of information here on Bird, who apparently was not only as a producer, scriptwriter and wrote the lyrics for the early episodes of Andy Pandy but also narrated early episodes of a lot of Watch With Mother.

The artists listed (with no clues to which stories are theirs) are:
Raymond Sheppard, Reginald Jeffryes, Phlis Ladyman, Sam and Elizabeth Williams, Janet and Anne Grahame-Johnstone, Matvyn Wright, Monique Partridge, Kathleen Dance, 'Tim'. The latter drew many serials for Blue Peter in the sixties and his full name was William Timym, MBE (1901-1990) (or Wilhelm Timym as he was named at birth in Austria). He was an accomplished sculpture too - I well remember helping my son climb on the bronze statue of Guy The Gorilla at London Zoo. Read more here. Take a little while to visit Peter Richardson's overview of Anne and Janet here.

How many of these animals do you know?
The answer was published on the opposite page:

The beginnings of Watch with Mother were mid-1950 when Andy Pandy (created by Freda Lingstrom and Mary Adams) was broadcast. In 1952 the very fondly remembered “Flower Pot Men” were broadcast. Neither of these two children’s programmes came under the Watch with Mother umbrella until 1953, when, together with Rag, Tag and Bobtail, the broadcast went out 3 times a week. When two more were added in 1955, Watch With Mother  went out five times a week. There were others added to the series later (Tales Of The Riverbank, 1960 voiced by the wonderful Johnny Morris).
To tackle a mis-conception, apparently Muffin the Mule started in 1946 and was aimed at all children not just Watch With Mother's audience of pre-school toddlers and was not part of the package.

The Polite Monkeys by Marjorie Perraton, p51

p. 52



I couldn't find much about Marjorie Perraton besides her appearance as a writer for the BBC (mentioned on the wonderful BBC Genome Project)

In researching Watch with Mother Malcy B.’s website is referenced by many others, but is now no longer around. But God bless the Wayback Engine on - the last thing Malcy B. added to the Yahoo Group mentioned on the Wayback Engine captured page page was in 2008, so I wonder whether Malcy is no longer with us. 

Before I go, I ought to mention that Raymond Sheppard appeared on the BBC at least twice:

From the BBC Genome Project
I have checked using my contacts and neither are archived unfortunately. But that's what has been said about Doctor Who and many others and they have appeared, so who knows maybe we might still get to see Sheppard 'live'.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Raymond Sheppard and William Joseph Blyton (W. J. Blyton) (Part Two)

English Cavalcade is the focus of this second article on W. J. Blyton. (the first being here on Rolling Year).

English Cavalcade Dustjacket

English Cavalcade Dustjacket


Saturday Review 20 February 1937 p135-136
Stanley B. James, for The Catholic Herald reviewed this work as its book of the week, 2 April 1937 (p.4) under the title  "Men And Shires: Geographical Approach To Literature"

Facing Page One of this pleasant book is a map of Great Britain bearing the first headline of this article. The idea of this map, which is the idea of the book, is brilliantly conceived. Instead of counties and towns one sees, scribbled in, the names of poets, novelists, essayists, etc., giving a bird's-eye view of the country viewed from the standpoint of one whose interests are tied up, at least for the time being, only with masters of the pen.
And if we have maps showing density of population or the mineral resources of our land, why should we not have one drawn to illustrate the associations of the various shires with our national literature? We frequently speak of Bookland; well, here it is, superimposed on and, as Euclid taught us to say, coinciding with, the contour of our island home. There follow pages packed with a surprising wealth of literary gossip and apt quotation interwoven with sketches of the country through which we are passing, the whole being charmingly illustrated by the author and Raymond Sheppard,
If the literary approach to geography is new, so is the geographical approach to literature. Moreover, it is not only a legitimate way in which to traverse Bookland but also, as Mr. Blyton enables us to see, a very entertaining way. Local colour is an important factor in the sort of writings here enumerated. It might be argued indeed that a love of the shires gives us the best key to an understanding of the national genius. Such a book as this does but apply to literature the test of local patriotism as expounded in, say, The Napoleon of Notting Hill. Critics might do worse than adopt categories which would enable us to leave the lecture-room behind while we took an open-air jaunt. In fact they came near doing this when they classified certain of our poets as The Lake School.
Borrow did something of the same kind for Wild Wales. The itinerary of that hefty pedestrian is almost entirely dictated by his interest in the poets of the Principality. He is happiest when, standing by some pile of litchened stones, he can recite verses from the poet of whose home they once formed a part. His narrative forms a running commentary on the bards through whose former haunts he is passing. He counted himself specially fortunate if he could meet with descendants of the famous dead or encounter in some wayside inn, as he sometimes did. -drover or cobbler or farmer who could cap quotation with quotation from the works of the local hero.
The ground Borrow covered was restricted compared with the realm in which the author of English Cavalcade moves. But what his account lost in variety it gained in intimacy. His story is that of a personal experience which has the character of a pilgrimage. More than that: for the greater part of the way he used his own stout legs to carry him over the hills. Thus he was enabled to get to close quarters with his subject and to linger, where he chose to do so, long enough to collect unrecorded local 'legend.
In days when it has become the fashion for descriptive journalists intent on Seeing Britain to take us on a scamper covering the length and breadth of the land this would he accounted a slow method unworthy of the age of express trains travelling at over sixty miles an hour and motor coaches which whirl us 'through a county at a pace which makes detailed observation impossible. Mr. Blyton's style (small blame to him seeing how much ground he must get over in 311 pages) reflects these altered conditions. We rejoice in the bird's-eye view he gives us but we miss the leisurely pedestrianism which was able to enjoy chats by the wayside with the actual folk of the countryside.
Unfortunately our author has missed one advantage which his comprehensiveness might have given him. A concluding section of his book treating generally of the relations -between our national genius and its climatic and topographical setting would have been a valuable addition. It would have been interesting to note in such a chapter the effect of foreign travel on writers of our race. The difference between Wordsworth and - say- Shelly or Byron is surely due in part to  difference of environment. But such discussions we may concede, might have robbed the book of that discursive character which is one of its charms. In these pages we are, and are meant to be literally-minded sightseers, not philosophers.
There is need of a volume of this kind. Borrow, if I may refer to him once more, concludes an account of a conversation he had with a miller in this way, " 'What a difference,' said I to my wife after we had departed, 'between a Welshman and an Englishman of the lower class.What would a Suffolk miller's swain have said if I had repeated to him verses out of Beowulf or even Chaucer, and had asked him about the residence of Skelton?'". None of us will have difficulty in answering that question and our answer will emphasise the purpose that may be served by so brightly written and informative a study of the relations between the men and shires of Britain.
 I have emboldened the only comment in this long review of Sheppard's artwork and as can be seen, Blyton also did some of the illustrations. I have reproduced these for completeness on my Visual Rants blog along with another review which doesn't mention the illustrations at all beyond "There are many satisfactory woodcuts" .

The New Zealand Herald 17 April 1937 inserted one image from the book in its review column with no actual review beyond the following text:

There are other reviews, (for example Illustrated London News, Saturday, April 24 1937 p.706) but none mention Sheppard's illustrations just Blyton's omissions in his text.










Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Raymond Sheppard and William Joseph Blyton (W. J. Blyton) (Part One)

I was lucky recently to purchase two framed originals by Raymond Sheppard. The seller had tried to sell them at various auctions houses, but I made him an offer and was over the moon to receive them in the post. Both were published in W. J. Blyton's The Rolling Year: A Farmer's Log (London and Glasgow: Blackie & Son, 1936). I'll feature them in the third article on Blyton. But first who was Blyton?

"Hay Harvest Home" - Frontispiece
In September 1936 The Rolling Year was advertised as "written with unaffected literary grace, as well as firsthand knowledge, the author of Country Airs, here takes you deeper into the joys and mysteries of the country's and farmer's craft, and lets out more secrets of a family's pioneering adventure". By November Blackie had obviously received reviews and replaced their blurb with the following: "somehow there seems more hope in life when one reads such a book...His is a lovely romance" - Yorkshire Weekly Post

"Market Day" p. 44
I read the book over the Christmas holiday and although it has dated language and ideas, the gist of it would resonate with current thinking - the return to permaculture, although a very modern word is obviously not a new concept. Some of the 'sketches' Blyton writes around farming life are brilliant and stay in the memory, particularly those around visitors and workers on the farm and their country ways. His descriptions and meditations of nature are thought provoking and peaceful.

So who was William Joseph Blyton?
"Mr. Blyton went off to be a farmer after twenty years of journalism, and the first book he made out of his experiences, Country Airs, was very well received. If we are not greatly mistaken The Rolling Year, which continues the record, will be equally welcome. It is a book for the townsman, or for the townsman " gone rural." I, a countryman-gone-journalist, find it rattles too "literary for my taste: it says a lot I want to know about the land and life on it, and a lot that I ought to know whether I want to or not. It is an encouraging book, too—but I'm not sure that the dedication is not the most significant thing in it: "To my Son and Daughters, who made it all possible." A word of praise is due to Mr. Raymond Sheppard for his illustrations. - Q.L."  From The Catholic Herald, 30 October 1936, p.4
"A paradise of solitude" p. 72
I did some more digging now that I had his full name and found a fascinating character. Let's start with the end of his life which was tragically short.

The Times Wednesday, May 17, 1944; pg. 7
This obituary appeared in The Times Wednesday, May 17, 1944; pg. 7 and a shorter biography in the Tablet, "the international Cathlolic news weekly" of 1944:

Tablet 12 May 1944 p250
I left the second person mentioned in the article for the curious! So we know now he was a journalist who couldn't write about the return to farming without being 'authentic' as we now say. He wrote pamphlets for the Catholic Truth Society and was quoted in the supplement to "Roads to Rome" - with the sub-title "A Guide to Notable Converts from Britain and Ireland from the Reformation to the Present Day"*. Follow the link to a Word document at the bottom of that page for an overview of Blyton's catholic writings where you'll read the following and more:

Blyton, William Joseph – journalist and author; b. 1887; c[onverted]. 1923; d. 1944; worked as a journalist; until World War II a farmer in Surrey; a leading spirit in Marydown Catholic land colony; returned to journalism; editor of the Ransomer 1926-1932; wrote novels and non-fiction about country life and religious issues; writer of several Catholic Truth Society pamphlets and contributor to many journals
We know that Blyton was the Honorary Secretary of the Marydown Farming Association (Tablet 21 December 1935 p87) and that the Association started on 1 August 1933 in Elstead, near Goldalming. the history of this initiative appears to be thin on the ground but does turn up in Church, nation and race: Catholics and antisemitism in Germany and England, 1918-1939


"Spring Fever! The thunder of flying hooves" p.120
"Milking Time" p.144

"An old water wheel" p. 178
"Man doth not live by bread alone" p. 216
"The Sire of Gods and men with hard decrees
Forbids our plenty to be born with ease" p. 262

W. J. Blyton select bibliography

The Witness from Outside. [Excerpts on Roman Catholicism from Protestant writers.] London : Guild of Our Lady of Ransom, [1924]
The Law of Self-Sacrifice in Nature, Man, and God. London : Ernest Benn, 1930.
The Modern Adventure. [Essays.] London : Burns, Oates & Co., [1930] - The Modern Adventure here dealt with is not political or geographical; still less is it the 'adventure' of one sort of novel. It is the religious quest at the the core of life, so much more crucial, exciting and, to many, more tantalising. Give a man his moorings on spiritual facts and he will soon think straight on issues like world-peace, social and international solidarity, economic justice, family loyalties, and the primal decencies. He will use the ground won - not to go to sleep on, but to think and act from.
Gale Warning. London : Burns, Oates & Co., 1931.
Country Airs London : Blackie, 1935. - After 20 years of journalism, the author, a London editor, abandoned Fleet Street in order to make a living out of the land. With a family to support and a derelict farm to break in, it was a lively and highly speculative adventure,chequered by many ups and downs,all of which are described with rare literary charm
The Rolling Year: A Farmer's Log London ; Glasgow : Blackie & Son, 1936.
English Cavalcade [Essays on English literature and the English countryside.] London : John Murray, 1937.
Arrows of Desire. [Essays.] London : Hutchinson & Co., [1938] - Prewar musings on social conditions and political events and personalities
Anglo-German Future. London : Hutchinson & Co., [1939] - 185 pgs of text which was published in June 1939 and argues from the position of a supporter of appeasement or at least one who hopes against hope that war will not come
Landfalls and Windfalls: a personal record. [With plates.] London : John Murray, 1940.
To Happier Days. London : John Murray, 1941.
Cakes, Ale and Virtue. A modern's testament. London : Hutchinson & Co., [1944]

So You're Going Farming!. London : Quality Press, 1946.
English Language and Literature (The New Educational Library) by Michael Blacon, W. J. Blyton, Richard Church, Sir John Ervine,et al. London: Odhams (1948)

[CORRESPONDENCE] Young nations in a hurry,  Saturday review of politics, literature, science and art Vol: 126 no.3293 (Dec 7, 1918): p.1129.
[CORRESPONDENCE] A question of ancestry Saturday review of politics, literature, science and art Vol:127 No.3310 (Apr 5, 1919): pp.325-326. 

Journal articles and pamphlets
  • More Tributes to the Church from Non-Catholics (Guilt of Our Lady of Ransom.), 1925
  • The future of the countryside, Fortnightly review: pp494-504. , Oct 1930
  • Religion - Town, and Country. Published by Dublin Review, Volume 188, Jan 1931
  • Relativity and Knowledge Published by London: Catholic Truth Society . 1934
  • William Cobbett,  The English Review, Aug 1935
  • The Second Renaissance, The Cornhill Magazine Sep 1935
  • This was a man, The Cornhill Magazine Aug 1936 
  • Pastoral, The Cornhill Magazine Oct 1936 
  • Threatened beauty,  The English Review, Vol: LXIII No. 6, Dec 1936
  • England's Waste Lands The National Review Vol. 108:648, Feb 1937
  • Wordsworth view of Europe in 1837, The National Review Vol. 109:657, Nov 1937
  • Cindrellas of the bookshelf: I: Wander-years at home The Cornhill Magazine Mar 1937
  • Cindrellas of the bookshelf: II: Sorcery in words, The Cornhill Magazine Apr 1937
  • The English idea in histories, The English Review, Vol: LXIV No. 7, July 1937
  • Historians In The Making. Published by Quarterly Review, Volume 268, 1937
  • Government And The Individual. Published by Quarterly Review, 1937, Volume 269.
  • Will Juggernaut survive?  The National Review Vol. 110:662, April 1938
  • Toll for the brave, The Cornhill Magazine Nov 1938 
  • Some Moderns And The Bible. Published by Quarterly Review, 1938, Volume 271
  • Time and Apple Platt Farm, The Cornhill Magazine Aug 1939
  • Old Germanies For New. Published by Quarterly Review, Volume 271- 273, 1939
  • The Roots Of A Nation. Published by Quarterly Review, Volume 271-273, 1939
  • The Response To Crisis: Some Contrasts. Published by Quarterly Review, Volume 276- 277, 1941
  • Britain's Cultural past and present Published by Quarterly Review, Volume 278- 279, 1942
  • Old English: A Revaluation Published by Dublin Review, Volume 210, 1942
  • The Coming Society: A Glimpse. Published by Quarterly Review, Volume 280, 1943
  • Prelude For Politicians. Published by Quarterly Review, Volume 281, 1943

Part Two of this article on W. J. Blyton will focus on the other book that Sheppard illustrated by him: English Cavalcade

*A request to Joseph Kelly to use his biography, “William Joseph Blyton, 1887-1944,” written in Catholic Life, September 2003, p.15 was not answered unfortunately. If that changes, I shall update this article
***If anyone can scan a copy of the cover of Rolling Year for me I'd be very grateful***