The Life and Times of a busy bookseller, her husband and Gordon setter dogs in North Norfolk.

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Born In Essex, UK.
School in Luton.
College - Sussex.
Worked in Cambs.
Now Living in Norfolk.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Loss of another favourite author - Miss Read/Dora Saint including Bibliography

Somehow I missed hearing about the death of Miss Read pseudonym of Dora Saint,  on 7th April this year.  It came to my attention a couple of days ago, and despite her making the good age of 98, almost 99, still made me sad.  With her passing, another writer leaves us, who in her writings brought memories of a certain sort of England and its rural village life. This may not be a type of England that all people experienced, but it was one that she enjoyed for some years in her youth, and wanted to preserve in words and pass on to others in her fictional villages of Fairacre and Thrush Green.

Dora Jessie Saint, so much better known to her readers as Miss Read actually started her life in London,(See part 1 of her autobiography as a child A Fortunate Grandchild which describe her days as a London child) and moved to the country when her family moved to the countryside to aid her mother's health. From 1921 to 1924 she went to the local village school and she clearly made many friends and found living in a small community fun (as can be seen in Time Remembered the 2nd part of her autobiography as a child). At school she was good at both reading and essay writing, and went on to follow her father into the world of teaching. She taught in Middlesex from 1933 - 1940 when she married Douglas Saint, and after the war, although doing occasional supply  teaching, turned more to writing, including articles for magazines, and scripts for the BBC schools service.

The first of the Fairacre novels, Village School, was published in 1955. The rest of the series then followed:

Village Diary (1957)
Storm in the Village (1958)
Over the Gate (1964)
Village Christmas (1966)
The Fairacre Festival (1968)
Tylers Row (1972)
The Christmas Mouse (1973)
Farther afield (1974)
Village Affairs (1977)
Village Centenary (1980)
Summer at Fairacre (1984)
Changes at Fairacre (1991)
Fairwell to Fairacre (1993)
A Peaceful Retirement (1996)
Chronicles of Fairacre: Omnibus (1972)
Further Chronicles of Fairacre: Omnibus (1972)
Mrs Pringle (1989)
Fairacre RoundaboutL omnibus (1990)
Miss Read's Christmas Tales: Omnibus (1990)
Christmas at Fairacre: Omnibus (1991)
Miss Read chronicles Giftset: Omnibus (1992)
Village Christmas/The Christmas Mouse: Omnibus (1993)(2003)
Fairacre Affairs omnibus (1997)
The Last Chronicle of Fairacre: Omnibus (2001)
Storm in the village/The fairacre festival:omnibus (2002)

Miss Reads other well known Series was her Thrush Green set of books, another rural sequence:

Thrush Green (1959)Winter in Thrush Green (1961)
News from Thrush Green (1970)
Battles at Thrush Green (1975)
Return to thrush Green (1978)
Gossip from Thrush Green (1981)
Affairs at Thrush Green (1983)
At Home at thrush Green (1985)
The School at thrush Green (1987)
Friends at Thrush Green (1990)
Celebrations at Thrush Green(1992)
The year at thrush Green(1995)
Christmas at thrush Green(2009)

Life at thrush Green - Omnibus (1984)
More Stories from Thrush Green: Omnibus (1985)
The World of thrush Green: Omnibus (1988)
Tales from Thrush Green: Omnibus (1994)
Encounters at Thrush Green: Omnibus: (1998)
The Villagers of Thrush Green (1999)
Farewell Thrush Green: omnibus (2000)

Apart from her 2 main series of books set in fiction country villages around village schools, Miss Read also wrote some other books. The following complete the list.

Caxley Chronicles

The Market Square (1966)
The Howards of Caxley (1967)
The Caxley Chronciles (Omnibus of above) 1999

Other novels

Fresh from the Country (1955)
Hobby Horse Cottage(1958)
Miss Clare Remembers(1962)
Tiggy (1971)
Emily Davis (1971)
Hob and the Horse Bat (1974)
Animal Boy (1975)
No Holly for Miss Quinn (1976)
The White Robin (1979)


Country Bunch (1963) (1992)
The Little Red Bus & Other Rhyming Stories (1991)
Miss Read's Christmas Book (1992)
Tales from a Village School (1994)
A Country Christmas (2006)
Non-Fiction including autobiographical works

Miss Read's Country Cooking: (1969)
A Fortunate Grandchild (1982)
Time Remembered (1986)
The English Vicarage Garden: 30 Gardens of Beauty and Inspiration (1988)

Miss Read wrote about the simple, the good things in life - friendship, the countryside, nature, and harmless gossip.  She was realistic about the downs as well as the ups in village life, but she did let good prevail. Her stories had a charm and appeal that many appreciated and her characters had values and a stability that many still seek out in a fast changing world. I feel sure her work will be appreciated for many years to come. Many of her books we delightfully illustrated by John Goodall

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Flower Fairies of the Summer

The Song of the Honeysuckle Fairy

The lane is deep, the bank is steep
The tangled hedge is high;
and clinging, twisting, up I creep,
and climb towards the sky.
O Honeysuckle, mounting high!
OWoodbine, climbing to the sky!

The People in the lane below
Look up and see me there,
Where I my honey trumpets blow,
Whose sweetness fills the air.                                                                  
O Honeysuckle, waving there!
OWoodbine, scenting all the air!
The Song of the Poppy Fairy                                                                                                

The green wheat's a-growing,
The lark sings on high;
In scarlet silk a-glowing,
Here stand I.

The wheat's turning yellow,
Ripening for sheaves;
I hear the little fellow
Who scares the bird thieves
Now the harvest's ended,
The wheat-field is bare;
But still, red and splendid,
I am there.

These prints come from a 1920's edition of Flower Fairies of the Summer by Cicely Mary Barker.  The book binding had lost its spine, and was badly worn, and the book was falling apart.  The plates however were still in nice condition. They make a lovely set of single sided 1920's colour flower fairies plates, suitable for mounting and framing. The page size is approximately 5.5" x 4". We have available for sale at 4.00GBP each plus P&P (available individually or grouped). e-mail us at to purchase.

The Heather Fairy
The Honeysuckle Fairy
The Travellers Joy Fairy
The Greater Knapweed Fairy
The Scarlet Pimpernel Fairy
The Wild Thyme Fairy                                                                          
The Thistle Fairy
The Scabious Fairy                                                                            
The Toadflax Fairy
The Yarrow Fairy
The White Campion Fairy
The Nightshade Fairy
The Poppy Fairy

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Words Gone By - The Vintage Paper Girls

Well we have done it - Annette and I have now officially 'launched' our new business, and this is what we are calling ourselves.  Words Gone By - The Vintage Paper Girls (Not specifying whether it is us or the paper that is Vintage!). When I say 'launched' what I really mean is spent some money on it thus committed ourselves to the business. However we are both excited about it and so far thoroughly enjoying ourselves. We are ploughing through the necessary 'boring stuff' so that we can get to the good bit, enjoying wading through the goods that we are buying. It is quite a long time since I have started up a business - Peakirk Books began in 1997, and although that feels like yesterday to me, some things have changed, and I had forgotten about some of the paperwork that is demanded of you. However we are getting through it and are nearly out the other side. To cheer ourselves up we went to an auction to do some buying of goodies that we felt would be appropriate to sell in our new business, and were amazed at what was available. However we weren't alone in finding such things interesting, and the bidding was very competitive.  I have also squirrelled away various bits and pieces over the years (at long last my hatred of throwing things away is coming into its own) so I think Annette my be quite surprised at the odd bits and pieces I produce over time.  Some of course will be quite worthless, but others I hope will be of use to be people - you never know quite what people are seeking.   It is both amazing and interesting  just what people do collect, and makes the world such a diverse place with people having such  varied interests.  It also keeps so much more of the past, and our social history, alive and in our memories.

We intend selling via 3 mediums.  Our main regular sales will be via ebay. This will enable our various small bits and pieces to reach a world wide audience, thus hopefully help us reach a variety of collectors, family tree researchers, etc.  We intend to take up the name Vintage Paper Girls as soon as our Bank account comes through (I sat through my hours interview with the Business Account Manager last week and came out with my head spinning) and am now just waiting for the bank account to be set up so that we can get the ebay account up and running then we will be off!  The second medium will be local ie Norfolk, Fairs.  Here we intend selling more general items that we find, and probably more visually attractive ones on stalls around this locality.  As soon as we have some booked I will put on here where we will be.I have collected some great bits already.  Thirdly I will add some ephemera to the Peakirk Books stand at the PBFA book fairs that we do, when I am allowed to increase my stand to a larger stand - I am currently investigating where the stands can be increased in size, and am hoping that the June fair at The Heart of England will allow me to have a larger stand, to get started.  Here we would have strictly printed matter & ephemera in line with PBFA book fairs. We see these 3 outlets working well concurrently, and hopefully leading to a thriving 'bolt on' business to add to our main one ie Peakirk books.  Meanwhile, you will probably see me next flat our asleep on the floor, happy but exhausted!

Keep an eye on our blog for further news!