Saturday, 13 February 2010

Favourite books from my childhood

Today I was reading Ragged Old Blogger's post where she showed some photos of one of her childhood books, and also showed a link to Love Stitching Red - Carolyn Saxby's blog where there are lots of children's books named.
This book is really falling apart after much hard use. Called "The Sun's Babies" by Edith Howes, it was given to my mother when she was a small girl before the first World War. It is full of fairy tales and verses and my younger sister and I loved being able to thumb through it. I think we went looking for fairies in the garden afterwards!

You can see the pages are very dilapidated, but I couldn't bear to part with the book.

My mother used to read this wonderful book to the three of us children and also two cousins who lived with us during the second world war. We would shiver in fright in some of the chapters and cry through the sad parts, but implored her to keep going whenever she said she would stop. The Durack family was one of the first families to settle the Kimberleys in Western Australia, a very, very remote area in the late 1800s when the set up their cattle stations. They had a great affinity with the aborigines in the area and Mary, one of the next generation, wrote some incredible stories incorporating aboriginal lore. Her sister Elizabeth, illustrated them. This story is about two little picanninnies who have lost their small brother and go in search of him.
Some of the illustrations are quite scary to small children, and there are some beautiful line drawings in the book.
We were a family of bookworms who devoured everything. New books seemed to be published just before Christmas and the whole family had books as part of Christmas. My parents read all our children's books as well as us - WE Johns Biggles series was a favourite, as were all the Anne of Green Gables books. I preferred the Emily books to the Anne books, and I particularly loved an English series of books about a schoolgirl called Dimsey. I can't remember the author, but someone else out there may have read them. Of course we acquired all the Billabong books by Mary Grant Bruce as they were published. They are all very dated now, but oh, they were so exciting. Then we graduated to more adult reading, including Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. I didn't realise how lucky we were till I went to boarding school and discovered lots of the other girls in my class were not allowed to read "adult" books till they were in their teens - I think I was only about 10 when I graduated to the adult shelves. Looking back, I am sure I was guided away from anything considered risque!
Time to go, I have to prepare food to take to the Gardens for a members' BBQ tonight and I am going to be late.


  1. Wonderful books Robin - no wonder you treasure them. I always asked for a book for Christmas - I think they were in short supply along with many other things back then. We must be influenced by all those beautiful illustrations in the work we do, without be aware of it.

  2. It started raining on Friday afternoon Robin and it is still raining.
    Not belting down rain that runs away but soaking rain that sinks into the ground.
    We are expecting it to last until Monday--who cares just as long as it keeps raining.


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