Drama Merry-Go-Round by Eric Newton


Blackie and Son Limited had its origins in educational books and partworks sold door-to-door in the early 19th Century. In my search for Raymond Sheppard artwork in books I discovered that he did something in Book Four of this series called Drama Merry-Go-Round.

DramaMerry-Go-Round_Book1_p19I have copies of Book One and Two (see my next article)  and know that a Four exists. But how large the series was I don’t know. There are some lovely illustrations – no credits as was usual, but hopefully you can still enjoy them. Do comment if you think you recognise a style form the period of these books. I have not copied every illustration just those I liked.

Eric Newton, who edited these books might have apparently been a pseudonym for Christensen Frederick George Newton.


The title pages state:

Head Master, Blackhorse Road Junior School, Walthamstow;

Lecturer in School Drama for the Speech Fellowship,

Essex County Council, Middlesex County Council etc.

DramaMerry-Go-Round_Book1_p24-25I can’t find anything under his longer name, but Eric Newton was also the name of an art critic for the Guardian and the Times, who broadcast on the radio on the subject of art. What’s interesting is that the British Library list, under “Eric Newton”,14 books attributed to him or to which he contributed and state his birth date as 1904. The latest book publication date is 1964.

DramaMerry-Go-Round_Book1_p28-29Newton states in the Introduction that the books are aimed at 7-8 year olds. Each has 88 pages and have that cloth linen covering that school texts had when I was a kid. Presumably we all forgot to wash our hands before reading!

DramaMerry-Go-Round_Book1_p30-31The ‘other’ Eric Newton is listed on Who’s Who as having received a CBE in 1964. “Born 28 April 1893; married 1st, 1915, Isabel Aileen Vinicombe; two s; 2nd, 1934, Stella Mary Pearce; died 10 March 1965” His obituary appears in the Guardian. I’m not suggesting they are the same, I just wanted to note that there are two gentlemen published who may get confused. Hopefully this helps someone in the future!





DramaMerry-Go-Round_Book1_p54 DramaMerry-Go-Round_Book1_p56 DramaMerry-Go-Round_Book1_p60-61

SWIFT Comic – Animals and their young

p.7 Badger
p.7 Badger by Tom Adams

In my blog on Raymond Sheppard I have reproduced all of the Sheppard drawings from the original series in Swift (6 April 1957 to 2 November 1957). Unfortunately, I don’t own all the relevant original Swift comics so was totally reliant on the reprint book Animals and their Young, London: Longacre Press, 1962. This presented a conundrum. Had all the other animal illustrations, present in the reprint book, also first appeared in Swift and – my natural curiosity – who were the artists responsible for them?

Once I’d received the two – anxiously sought after – Longacre books, Birds and their Nests being a companion title, my first task had been to compile a complete listing of their contents, to send to David Slinn who had freelanced on Swift in the late-1950s. His response, immediately clarified a number of issues:

“Where the birds are concerned, those not drawn by Raymond Sheppard will almost certainly have been amongst the subsequent input from Tom Adams. The animals are less straightforward, though somewhat more intriguing, and present various possibilities. The red deer, offers three alternatives, though the hedgehog just one, from separate Tom AdamsSwift series, in the first instance, ‘Looking at Things’. The sea-lion and walrus required researching further ahead, but eventually turned up, with a couple of illustrations by our old friend Basil Reynolds.
“This Longacre title, based on the first Swift series, ‘Animals and their Young’, which was handled entirely by Raymond Sheppard, has clearly left the book’s editor eleven species short of requirements. There was, by the early 1960s, a wealth of colour wildlife artwork stored in Hulton House, so there would have been very little difficulty in sourcing anything required from earlier Eagle and Girl features as well.”

After I sent him scans of these relevant pages from the reprinted volume, David was able add to his initial comments:

“The editorial budget looks to have been fairly substantial, as it is almost certainly Tom Adams, himself, who has provided the baby hedgehog/leaves/ground (there’s just a trace of the vertical join, while the horizontal is lost in the re-inked shadow area). Likewise the extended left-hand stretch of woodland, behind the stag and family, has been painted with his characteristic treatment.
“Whether, in every case, the original illustrator had been contacted to adapt their artwork, certainly the background sunset to the walrus picture, looks to have been added from the unmistakable “Disney-like” palette associated with Basil Reynolds. Although, the somewhat arbitrary cropping didn’t do this image any favours. Which is slightly worrying as, of course, any re-proportioning or additional artwork required on Raymond Sheppard’s original artwork, unfortunately – as, of course, with his tragic early death in 1958 – won’t have been in his hands.”


p.75 Walrus

p.75 Walrus by Basil Reynolds

Swift ' Wild Creatures...World' 29 Aug 1959

Swift ‘ Wild Creatures…World’ 29 Aug 1959

p.71 Skunk

p.71 Skunk by Basil Reynolds

p.69 Sea Lion

p.69 Sea Lion by Basil Reynolds

Swift ' Wild Creatures...World' 26 Mar 1960

Swift ‘ Wild Creatures of the World’ 26 Mar 1960

p.53 Otter

p.53 Otter by Tom Adams

p.49 Opossum

p.49 Opossum by Peter Sharrocks


p.45 Mouse

p.45 Mouse by Tom Adams

p.21 Elephant

p.21 Elephant by Tom Adams

p.19 Deer

p.19 Deer by Tom Adams


Swift 'British Wild Animals' 18 Oct 1958

Swift ‘British Wild Animals’ 18 Oct 1958

p.9 Bat

p.9 Bat by Tom Adams


p.29 Hedgehog

p.29 Hedgehog by Tom Adams

Swift 'British Wild Animals' 6 Dec 1958

Swift ‘British Wild Animals’ 6 Dec 1958

Finally, the following alternative Red Deer illustrations to the one included in the book, provide a couple of further examples of Tom Adams’ extensive contribution to the Swift comic.

Swift 'Looking At Things' 6 Oct 1956 [i]

Swift ‘Looking At Things’ 6 Oct 1956

Swift 'Looking At Things' 13 Oct 1956

Swift ‘Looking At Things’ 13 Oct 1956

I wish to register my thanks to David Slinn for his extensive knowledge of who did what in the Swift comic and for his help on this article.