Barbosa – The man who drew Flashman

I was given a gift of a book on an artist I had only noticed a few months ago! But when reading the book I realised I’d seen his work in Lilliput a long time ago where I have examined a lot of Raymond Sheppard‘s artwork.

Artur Barbosa on the far right

Artur Ernesto Teixeira de Vasconcelos Barbosa, was an artist who worked in different fields – predominantly commercial art. As Lawrence Blackmore, the author, says this meant his work was not as valued as those ‘fine artists’ who assemble piles of bricks, or unmade beds! Barbosa was very talented and is well-remembered for his focus on period costume but he also designed stage sets, costumes and as Blackmore tells us, on one occasion, the interior of a rather famous yacht!

Barbosa was born in Liverpool on 6 March 1908 and lived in Groombridge, Kent until his death on 5 October 1995.


Barbosa – the man who drew Flashman

The picture of the cover, above, shows how thick this gorgeous book is – 350 pages of reproductions, and biographies. It’s on quality paper and I can’t see there ever being another biography on Barbosa or a gathering of his materials in one place like this. The edition is limited to 500 – or as the publisher says “Available in a limited edition of just 500 copies worldwide, only four hundred and fifty of which will be for sale. It will not be reprinted”


Blackmore gives us a biography and tells us about Barbosa’s career and how he worked on book jackets, set design, costume design, and advertising. He outlines the work Barbosa did on the following authors, together with a small biography of each:

  • pp 85-102: George MacDonald Fraser
  • pp103-122: Georgette Heyer
  • pp123-130: Patrick O’Brian
  • pp 131-140: Doris Leslie

He covers Barbosa’s work in magazines of the day Lilliput, Everbody’s Weekly, Bystander and does not sniff at children’s work (a refreshing change). Other authors mentioned include C. S. Forester, Joanna Trollope, Graham Greene, Sax Rohmer, Jules Verne, Anthony Powell, and Lytton Strachey.  I had a lovely surprise when I had saw the following covers on John Christopher books – an author I love. I have never seen these before!

John Christopher covers by Barbosa

A very rare portfolio is reproduced in the book – here’s one image, demonstrating Barbosa’s detail working. Blackmore reproduces the captions which will tell you more!

A Louisiana Zouave – Sergeant c. 1862

One of Barbosa’s later commissions was for Tesco supermarket, producing designs for their fortified wines!

Tesco fortified wines range – labels designed by Barbosa

Now, time for my confession. I don’t like Barbosa’s Regency and period costume paintings. Besides the elongated figures, I find the colour paintings too 2-D without depth – even where there is a background.  I do like his dustjacket designs as they mirror the period I love, where illustrators – not photographers – were king (and queen!). However I must say I do like his linework in black and white – here’s one example from the book

One page of Barbosa’s line work

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor (and Rex Harrison)  are just some of the names that crop up in this brilliant book.  The Hollywood couple asked Barbosa to design the interior of a yacht they bought, Burton, apparently realising it’s almost as cheap to own a yacht (and pay staff) than pay hotel bills!


The Burtons’ boat


I loved the fact that Blackmore never skirts round explaining some of the works he has found and their origins, placing art in Barbosa’s timeline. Such as the Radnorshire Fine Arts Limited pieces


I enjoyed reading this book and seeing how a researcher and fan of Barbosa put together a finished product.  Personally – and this is just me – I’d love an article on the search process which can be fascinating in itself.  The reproductions are very good – especially as Blackmore himself confesses very little of Barbosa’s orignal art exists. I would have liked to see references placed as footnotes to see Blackmore’s sources, but his notes at the end of the book cover all the queries I had, although I had to deduce some of them. I loved the fact that Blackmore appears not to held back any information he has acquired over a long time collecting said information. Where he has a lead he takes it, checks it, theorises and shares it here. A completist, if ever there was one. If not for the fact he admits that much more is likely to be out there yet to be discovered, this could be a catalog rasionée. Even so I doubt another will ever exist!

Another artist, mentioned in the book from Barbosa’s time was Reinganum, I’d love to see a book of his artwork! But I suspect I’m in a minority there too!  One thing lacking from the book was something about Barbosa’s techinique but knowledge like that must be very hard to gather if no contemporary articles exist – especially as those who knew him are few and far between now. Blackmore has done all art collectors and admirers a great service by putting this book together




Title: Barbosa: The Man who drew Flashman
Author: Lawrence Blackmore
Artist: Arthur Barbosa
Publisher: Book Palace Books, June 2018
Number of pages: 350
Format: Hard Cover with Dust Wrapper; Full Colour illustrations
Size: 9″ x 12″ (220mm x 297mm)
ISBN: 9781907081439

The Three Musketeers


Book Palace’s brilliant reprint of Arturo del Castillo’s artwork

There are so many versions of this story that one more, I thought, seemed a bit superfluous, but I was wrong! And before we gone on, in case you need this, this article contains spoilers!


Arturo del Castillo’s superb artwork as reproduced in this book. Just look at that figure work!


The artwork, which first appeared weekly in the UK’s children’s comic Film Fun and Lion, is of exceptional quality. The publisher has done a fantastic job considering the bleed through that occurred in children’s comics of the late 50s early 60s. The scans are great but the highlight of this paperback is the reproduction of Castillo’s original art. 14 pages of extraordinary beauty! Steve Holland provides a ‘stripography’ of Castillo’s work and an introduction to the lore of the Three or four Musketeers! A book that is very unlikely to be reprinted and well worth obtaining.


The three stories first appeared in

  1. Film Fun: 7 Jan 1961 – 27 May 1961 as “Three Musketeers”
  2. Lion: 28 Sept 1963 – 2 Nov 1963 as “The King’s Musketeers”
  3. Lion: 9 Nov 1963 – 22 Feb 1964 as “The Man in the Iron mask”

Steve Holland’s introduction of 5 two-columned pages covers the history of Dumas’ work and the Musketeers in particular. I love Steve’s work as he is a fan and writes for fans, knowing just how much to put in the introduction.


D’Artagnan portrayed by Walter Abel adorns this gorgeous page.

The first story has headers of photographs from the two films that appeared in 1935 (with Walter Abel as D’Artagnan) and 1948 with Gene Kelly. I thought that Errol Flynn appeared as D’Artagnan, but I’m wrong! He did star in “The Adventures of Robin Hood” in 1938 where he performed some brilliant fencing, so I expect I’ve mixed that up in my mind! The story tells of how D’Artagnan travels to Paris to join the Musketeers and how a gift to the Queen from the Duke of Buckingham might cause a war!


Wonderful detail in the Sea Captain’s face and beard!


A beautiful scene showing horses close up as well in silhouette. Stop for a moment and look at the rocks and trees. Gorgeous work!

The second story has a tragic event which is very touching and we learn of the Queen’s twin sons and how Richelieu must separate them before they cause division in France.

D'Artagnan tries to rescue his love

D’Artagnan’s adventure reminiscent of Alex Raymond’s work.

D'Artagnan is too late

Lady Constance slips away from D’Artagnan. Castillo leaves the panel with the central characters commanding the space. D’Artagnan’s simple words tell us the bad news and hurt as we read.


The coach is ambushed on a valley road.

The third story carries on from the birth and separation of the two Dauphins and tells the story of “the Man in the Iron Mask”

Steve Holland writes a two page biography of Arturo del Castillo and gives us a ‘stripography’ of his work in the UK. The book is rounded off with such a highlight – 14 pages of fantastic original artwork reproduced as they are today.

I can’t recommend this book enough and for all this you pay £20!


The Complete Adventures of The Three Musketeers

Author: Alexandre Dumas; edited by Steve Holland
Artist: Arturo del Castillo
Publisher: Book Palace Books, 30 April 2018
Number of pages: 112
Format: Flexi Cover; Black & White illustrations
Size: 9″ x 11″ (216mm x 280mm)
ISBN: 9780955159688

PRICE: £20.00




Terence Cuneo

In my research for Frank Bellamy and Raymond Sheppard artwork I kept coming across Cuneo’s work . This is one piece I felt deserved highlighting as his story is so interesting. Wikipedia has a biography and also a listing of his works , which includes Wide World Magazine. His daughter states (on a website set up dedicated to her dad’s work):

My Father, Terence Cuneo, left no records of his work, either written or oral. I therefore took it upon myself to trace and record for posterity his brilliance, in order to keep alive his name and image.

The article appearing here was published in a TV Times special called Christmas with the Stars [1969], pp.38-41





“A brush with royalty” from TV Times Christmas with the Stars [1969]

ICI Magazine and illustrators

September 1947 ICI Magazine – Unknown artist

In browsing through issues of ICI Magazine online for Raymond Sheppard artwork, thanks to the generosity of the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre (Mersey Road,  Widnes, Cheshire WA8 0DF Telephone 0151 420 1121), I came across some lovely artwork and some well known illustrators which surprised me. I must say thank you specifically to Paul Meara who not only told me of the re-vamp to the webpages which broke a link to the online ICI magazines, but did some photos for me of various editions

I suspect there’s so much to be seen here that I’ll stretch this out over a few articles with little commentary. For a bit of background to the in-house magazine for ICI see the Sheppard blog. The magazine took in reports from various parts of the organisation and included Reports from the Alkali Division, Dyestuffs Division, General Chemicals Division, the Nobel Division, Metals, Paints, Plastics, and Salt Divisions. They also wrote about the overseas divisions such as Egypt and New Zealand amongst others

But what pleasantly surprised me and occupied a few of my evenings  was the artwork that was sourced from employees and also commercial artists (such as Raymond Sheppard) – some well-known and others now forgotten.I have to confess that I’ve selected according to my curiosity and taste and should you want to check these out, the link is above. Also it’s worth saying here, credits for artists are rare and some signatures are hard to read, but I’ll have a go!

Advice to Amateur Artists by “Spike” February 1929



“Pielou” is the signature in this design from January 1947 ICI Magazine. is this Florence Pielou (1884 – 1959)?


Frontispiece from March 1947 is by H Emmett F.R.P.S – a relation of the famous Rowland Emett?


All three of the above by “Rix” are from March 1947 ICI Magazine


ICI magazine January 1947 with art credited to “Neave”


H. C. Geelan (of the Central Publicity Department of ICI) in ICI Magazine November 1947


Miss B. K. Reeve’s work for ICI Magazine January 1948 (she also was in the Central Publicity Department).


R. Pink (Paper Goods Manufacturing Company Limited) in July 1948


September 1948 – W. Bowen (Central Publicity Department). Stop and look at this and you’ll see a face!


January 1949 – R. J. Beeching (Kynoch Press Studio, London). The printer/publisher of the ICI Magazine


Animals and Birds -Blackie and Son Limited

I recently shared a picture from this title on my Raymond Sheppard blog and thought I’d share the rest here.

The book has no date, in common with a lot of these children’s Blackie books, the idea, I guess being their long shelf life. This particular one is a hardback with all pages of board.

Animals and Birds COVER – Artist unknown


Animals and Birds Page 1 -A talkative couple by Kim Hunter?? (See  also Page 12 below)



Animals and Birds Page 2 – M. A. Peart

Liss Llewellyn Fine Art have some biographical details and a lovely portrait of Marian Ada Peart. This illustration also appears in the Blackie’s Children’s Annual (33rd Year), illustrating a story called “The Cat Lady” written by ‘Q. K.’ I have reproduced it here for your pleasure!

The Cat Lady by Q. K.



Animals and Birds Page 3 – B. Butler

This image also appears in Blackie’s Children’s Annual (33rd Year) accompanying the story “Marmalade” where a cat runs away and is found by Ian in the pet shop. B. Butler shows the moment Ian is asked by the owner “Can I help you, Sir?” – the text on the Annual’s illustration.

Animals and Birds Page 10 – Field-mouse and blue tit by Allan Carter

I can find only a few references to Allan Carter – born in 1909, and illustrated books for Oxford University Press and Blackie between 1928 and 1936.

Animals and Birds – Page 4 – “What about my share?” by Topham

I know this is Miss Inez Topham and that she must have died around 1957 as interestingly there is a Charity (no. 212667) set up on 16 January 1963, which I can only assume is the same lady as it states “WILL DATED 12 JUNE 1957” – and the charity is for “FOR THE RELIEF OF DISTRESSED ARTISTS.”. She does many illustrations in Blackie and Thomas nelson children’s books.

Animals and |Birds – Page 6 – “At the Smithy” by B. Butler


Animals and Birds Page 7 – House-martins at home

Aniamls and birds – Page 8 – by R. Gudgeon

I suspect this might be Ralston R. B. Gudgeon (1910 – 1984) who painted wildlife images (and might he have done the cover to this book?)

Animals and Birds – Page 9

Animals and Birds – page 11 – “If only we dared!” by B. Butler

Animals and birds – Page 12 –


Animals and birds – back cover by B. Butler


Tom Kerr – who was he?


I’ve had a few people pointing to this rather mixed up page and wanted to register two things here:

  1. FACEBOOK has a group on The Comic Art of Tom Kerr
  2. I’m writing an article and a new fuller listing of Kerr’s work for a new magazine. More information to follow – I appear to be a world authority – purely by accident – but realise I’m no such thing! If you have ANYTHING to add please email me ~ Norman


Morgan has pointed me to his hunch that the cartoon below is actually by Egyptian born British cartoonist Kimon Evan Marengo (February 4, 1904 – November 4, 1988), better known for his pen name Kem. Thanks to Mullock’s Auctioneers

Morgan Wallace commented on a post of mine and forwarded this cartoon signed by “Kerr”. I showed this previously here but didn’t read ‘Kerr’! Interestingly this sent me on an exploratory trip to see what we know about Tom Kerr, if this is his work, which i begin to think it is not!

Morgan said

“I don’t have much information to work with. It came with a collection of other similar pieces. I know that all of them are original commissions, never been published.
All 20+ pieces hail solely from 1941-1943. Many were humour artists that contributed to humour publications of the day. Men’s magazines of the period also ran some of the artists, such as prewar and wartime issues of RAZZLE, LONDON OPINION, LILLIPUT, BLIGHTY, PUNCH, and even the Daily Mirror.

Kerr cartoon

Tom Kerr’s Wikipedia entry is thin on the ground, to say the least and even Steve Holland, our British comics expert admits defeat! He does have many mentions of Kerr and a very early example of his work, but none that show this style signature. When I see Tom Kerr, the comics artist, sign his work it’s usually in upper case and with no chance of comparing the letter ‘e’, which might give us the best clue!

Here’s a page form a 1967 Lady Penelope comic of “The Monkees” comic strip just before he finished drawing it. BUT note the signature. Would the above signature have evolved into this one below?

Anyway I have spent an interesting afternoon scouring all sorts of places for this listing which I hope helps someone! Tom Kerr information is so thin on the ground, if you want to contribute, let  me know.

List of strips (which I could find!)

  1. “Adam Eterno” in Thunder (17 October 1970) – Reprinted in Lion Holiday Special 1974
  2. “Alona” in Princess
  3. “The Avengers” in TV Comic 1968 (#877-887, #889)
  4. “Billy’s Boots” in Scorcher (c. March 1970 – November 1972 )
  5. ” Boy Bandit ” in Jag (27 July 1968-1 March 1969)
  6. “Brew-up Ben and his Boomerang” in the never published Whacko (c.1971) – see Steve Holland
  7. “The Can-Do Kids” in Lion (1 January 1972-15 January 1972, 15 April 1972-22 April 1972)
  8. “Charlie Peace” in Buster (August 1964 – June 1966)
  9. “Coote’s Crocks” in Wizard (c.1971-1972) – see George Shier’s blog
  10. “Crowther In Trouble” in Look-In ( 9 January 1971- December 1972)
  11. “The Daredevils ” in Jag (11 May 1968-15 June 1968, 29 June 1968-20 July 1968, 10 August 1968, 14 December 1968, 18 January 1969)
  12. The Day the World Forgot” in Eagle (April 26 1969 vol.20 No.17)
  13. “Doctor In Charge” in Look-In (c. May 1972)
  14. “Fatman and Sparrow” in Solo (15 February 1967 – ?)
  15. “The Fenn Street Gang” in Look-In (c. 1971)
  16. “Fireball XL5” in TV21 (30 September 2067 #141- 30 December 2067 #154)
  17. “Get Smart” in TV21 (1 July 2067 , #128 [published in 1967] – 23 December 2067, #153)
  18. “Jack O’ Justice” in Valiant (23 January 1965 – ?)
  19. “Kelly’s Eye” in Knockout (20 October 1962 -9 February 1963)
  20. “The King of Keg island” ran in Lion (14 November 1970 to 13 March 1971)
  21. “Kraken and the Ogre from the Past” in Valiant (August -September 1964)
  22. “Life with Uncle Lionel” in Princess (September 1963 -?)
  23. “The Magic Bus” in Little Star (1972-1974)
  24. “The Man called 39” in Valiant (February and May 1965)
  25. “The Mark of the Mysterons” in Solo (24 June 1967, #19 – ?)
  26. “Mary Jo: the girl with the heart of gold” ran in Princess (1963 – 1967) and in Princess Book 1966 and 1967
  27. “The Mind Stealers” in Lion (28 December 1968 – 26 April 1969)
  28. “The Monkees” in Lady Penelope (24 September 1966 -14 January 1967?)
  29. “Oddball Oates” in Lion (3 May 1969 – 7 November 1970)
  30. “Orlando” in TV Comic Annual 1969 (dated 1968)
  31. “Patty Pickle” in Twinkle
  32. “The Perils of Paul White” in Whizzer and Chips (1970)
  33. “Peter the Cat” in Score ‘n’ Roar (1970, #1-41)
  34. “Phil the Fluter” in Lion (20 March 1971-22 January 1972)
  35. “Pinky & Perky” in Harold Hare’s Own Paper
  36. “Pinocchio” in Harold Hare’s Own Paper (c.1960/61)
  37. “Sgt. Bilko” in Solo (18 February 1967 #1 – 14 September 1967 #31?)
  38. “Sgt. Bilko” in TV21 (
  39. “The Sparrows go to War” in Buster  1965
  40. “The Sparrows fight on” Buster Holiday Special 1980 [7 pages]
  41. “The Stealer” in Whizzer and Chips
  42. “The Steel Claw” in Valiant
  43. “Thunder Boult – the Magician who went to War”  in Buster (April 1964 and January 1965)
  44. “Who’d Kill Cockney Robin” in Shiver and Shake
  45. “Witch Winkle” in Twinkle
  46. “The Outlaws” in Jag 8 June, 15 June, 20 July, 3 August, 31 August, 16 November 1968
  47. Valiant Book of TV’s Sexton Blake
  48.  ~~Anti-smoking strips See Lew Stringer’s blog
  49. ~~Clarkes Commando (boys shoes) adverts (Series 1, Series 2)

Our Dutch friends have an entry in the vast Lambiek Comiclopedia which forms the basis of the Wikipedia article and Lew Stringer has examples of his work on his blog, but no biographical information. Roger Perry (a contemporary) in his memoirs for Downthetubes mentions Kerr illustrating strips in the Lady Penelope Annual of the Monkees, which he also did in the comic too. Kerr drew Monty Carstairs (who was also drawn by Frank Bellamy). British Comic Art blog has some nice scans

I used GCD, ComicsUK Forum, the above mentioned Steve Holland’s Bear Alley Blog, Lew Stringer’s Blog and any other source I could find!

And finally, on the ComicsUK Forum Shaqui mentioned on 1 March 2006:

I’ve seen Tom Kerr‘s signature on strips as far back as 1960, drawing ‘Pinky & Perky’ and ‘Pinocchio’ for ‘Harold Hare’s Own Comic’. I tried to trace him through his agent but was told he died in the 1970s.

And finally on the Save






Supermoose chocolate bar and Peter Ford

Countdown 006_1971_Mar_27 Pg 24

Countdown  #6 27 March 1971, p.24

A recent email prompted me to look into Supermoose, as I was investigating whether Frank Bellamy produced some advertising for the chocolate bar.  I remember the milky chocolate bar (from Cadbury Limited) which I thought more substantial than Milky Way (Mars Limited). It appeared in 1970, as far as I can ascertain, and was “a chocolate covered nougatine whip”, perhaps explaining why I liked it better than Milky Way!

It appears that the cartoons are by Peter Ford, who has an interesting, but brief history on the Internet.

Steve Holland points out his realistic artwork in Commando comics and John Freeman’s DowntheTubes lists a few of the reprinted stories he did. Peter Gray’s comic and art blog mentions his work on “Dad’s Army” in Countdown‘s later incarnation as TV Action and ComicsUK Forum shows he also illustrated “Motormouse and Autocat” strips too. He has also illustrated some “Bewitched” strips which appeared in Lady Penelope in the second half of the 1960s.

Matthew Emery (on the above mentioned forum) says:

Mick Anglo described him in his book on the fifties as, ‘a stocky Maori who used to draw adventure strips in which Aeroplanes often featured.’

Gerry Embleton shared the following, “Peter Ford was a very dear friend of mine when I was in my very early twenties. He was a wonderful character, he sang in amateur opera, played the guitar, was a talented cartoonist and comic strip artist, a paratroop instructor, a judo third Dan and ran a school, and was a school teacher. These separate worlds rarely had contact with each other and when he died representatives of his different interests gathered at his funeral and were amazed to discover how wide his interests were. He was quite a formidable character having a Polynesian anatomy, very big and powerful, a fierce warrior look when angry and a huge white toothed smile.”

From what I’ve researched he very likely grew up in Poplar.

Shaqui on the above Forum mentions that: “[Regarding] “Perils of Parker”, [i]n fact Gerry Embleton did the first 20 or so, then there was a ‘crossing over’ period as Embleton and Ford shared a studio, before Ford took over the strip entirely.”

and later states

“…[H]aving corresponded with his close friend Gerry Embleton, Peter Ford sadly died of a heart attack in the 1970s.”

If you follow Matthew emery’s pursuit of information at you’ll see, he was an expert in Judo as well as an artist!

Anyway back to the Supermoose series. It surprised me when I researched a bit further as it started in issue 6 (27 March 1971) of Countdown and continued until issue 31 (18 September 1971) without a break. Most appeared on the back page, but sometimes moved inside in order a special feature appear in its stead.

If anyone can add anything, let me know

Countdown 007 Pg 15

Countdown 008 Pg 24
Countdown 009 Pg 24 - SupermousseCountdown 010 Pg 24Countdown 011 Pg 15Countdown 012 Pg 24Countdown 013 Pg 24Countdown 014 Pg 10Countdown 015 Pg 24Countdown 016 Pg 22Countdown 017 Pg 24Countdown 018 Pg 24Countdown 019 Pg 10Countdown 020 Pg 18Countdown 021 Pg 24Countdown 022 Pg 10Countdown 023 Pg 24Countdown 024 Pg 24Countdown 025 Pg 15Countdown 026 Pg 18Countdown 027 Pg 15Countdown 028 Pg 10Countdown 029 Pg 10Countdown 030 Pg 10

And the last strip that I have found was published in Countdown issue 31 (18 September 1971)

Countdown 031 Pg 22_1971_Sep_18

W. J. Blyton author and artist and farmer and journalist!


Men and Shires map by Blyton; Page 1 by Sheppard

Having spent a lot of time reading William Joseph Blyton’s two books ilustrated by Raymond Sheppard, and writing blog articles on them, I also wanted to show the author’s artwork. Some of it is quite well executed but others are perhaps rushed. You be the judge.

The Tablet ( 6th March 1937, Page 16 ) also reviewed the book (see other reviews in my Sheppard article)

The literary map at the beginning of Mr. Blyton’s book is a good foretaste of what is to come. Scott, Shakespeare, Chaucer and Hardy have England and the Lowlands divided between them in broad spheres of influence, as it might be Northumbria, Wessex and Mercia. Other names appear in groups—Wordsworth, De Quincey and Ruskin clustering among the Lakes, Priestley and the Brontës sharing the wastes of the industrial provinces, and so on down to the crowded South. One does not expect to find Swinburne so far up the lonely North-East coast, and what is Marvell doing on the Humber ? Mrs. Gaskell and Cmdmon sing an odd duet. Altogether it is a fascinating map, and will keep the reader from the text for many minutes.

” I am in love with this green earth, ” wrote Lamb, and Mr. Blyton has caught and fixed this mood in poets and prose-writers the land over. He has turned out just the book for a lazy spring or summer day, when the senses are sharpened for country sights and sounds, and a favourite stretch of hillside or coast is all the better for having touched the heart of Keats or Coleridge. Mr. Blyton himself knows how to use language (though rather too fond of the caviare, as in his iterations of “sapid”), and can sum up a period of literature neatly : “Poetry, it seems, was to turn pedagogue ; the wild horses of the sun to become Dobbin in the shafts of instruction. Gay’s `Rural Sports’ had not this systematic or homiletic air, just previously, any more than the humorous rogue Allan Ramsay’s ‘ Gentle Shepherd,’ which had a bright unreal Petit Trianon accent. To fire fact with imagination, genius was needed, the genius which Wordsworth said made poetry `the trans-figured countenance of science.’ This was withheld. Talent only was given. But what provocative and curious failures or half-successes talent producet: nevertheless ! ” There is little that Mr. Blyton misses (though Johnson in the Hebrides and Jane Austen in Bath are surely not to be disregarded in such company) and he gives us much that may be unfamiliar. John Clare, for instance, could write such lines as these : “And Crossberry Way and old Round Oak’s narrow lane With its hollow trees like pulpits I shall never see again.

Enclosure like a Buonaparte let not a thing remain.

It levelled every bush and tree and levelled every hill And hung the moles for traitors, though the brook is running still It runs a naked stream and scold.”

That excellent poet, Lord Gorell, has written the lines which sum up Mr. Blyton’s purpose : “My footsteps fall on English earth In sound of English sea, And, new as though unfelt before, Its glory falls on I will not praise her more than this—She everywhere has known Whole centuries of quiet love As deep as is my own.”

The English language is as flexible as the English countryside, and both have here been explored by a patient and loving friend.

There are many satisfactory woodcuts, one or two tiresome errors in quotation. English Cavalcade fails entirely to give the quality of the book ; here is no pageantry, or high top note of patriotism. Why not have taken the title from the device on the intriguing map : Men and Shires?

I have emboldened the only reference to the illustrations. Did the reviewer mean Sheppard, Blyton or both?

The Rolling Year was solely illustrated by Sheppard; English Cavalcade was illustrated both by Sheppard and the author himself. Follow the links to read a biography and also reviews of the books on publication in 1936 and 1937 respectively.

The dual illustrations are strange, particularly as Blyton’s are not framed in the way Sheppard’s are. Sheppard, of course had co-illustrated The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway. But we know why that happened. For English Cavalcade we can only guess.



Raymond Sheppard on p154 and Blyton on p.155





Margaret Tarrant and The Littlest One


Recently I bought a book for my wife but have no idea where now! Still I wanted to share the details in case anyone was interested.

We have both loved Cecily Mary Barker  since we were kids (no we didn’t know each other at that time!) but when we first got married we had posters on our walls and later bought two Margaret Tarrant pictures! I always thought of her artwork as ‘insubstantial’ yet cute. But the two we bought still inspire me when I look at them. They are both at the top of this post and the reproduction does not do them justice.

Anyway enough of my memories.

The Littlest One was written by Marion St John Webb and you can read more about the authoress on the wonderful March House Books website. I found I had bought the third one in the series “The Littlest One Again” first published in 1923, so I’d bought a very cheap first edition! But it was the pictures which grabbed me. Here they are.







Norman Thelwell

My wife and I visited Hampshire recently in order to see the Norman Thelwell exhibition (16 January to 10 April 2016, 11am – 5pm)at the National Trust property, Mottisfont House. I was really pleased to see that the captions, which were excellent, stated that all the artwork on display was “On loan from the Thelwell Family Archive”. I hope they won’t mind me sharing these crude photographs all taken by me, and thus including reflections!

It was wonderful to walk round a few rooms and find older people than me laughing out loud. The cartoons still work so well and as one caption stated:

“In some ways Thelwell was out of step with conventions for cartoons in post-war Britain – these were often political and urban in outlook and acerbic in tone. […] Thelwell’s approach was completely different. His style was always naturalistic  and he included a great deal of descriptive detail. […] Although he said that politics bored him, Thelwell did produce cartoons that used humour to protest against environmental issues.”


The following are borrowed from the Mottisfont website (All Thelwell material is © The Estate of Norman Thelwell, and the official website has great stuff that I have no need to reproduce here!):



Romsey Abbey

Romsey Abbey by Norman Thelwell