Other British Publishers CWS

T. Nelson & Sons; C.S.S.M.; Pickering & Inglis; Christian Colportage Assoc.; Victory Press

Collectively, these five concerns published ten of Savery's novels, all of which make a strong Christian statement. The Lutterworth Press is listed separately only because they published so many more of her books. The covers of original editions on the left are to scale. Reprints and translations are on the right, reduced an additional ten percent.

T. NELSON & SONS LTD

Nicolas Chooses White May. Illus. by Helen Stratton. London : Edinburgh : New York : Toronto : Paris: Children's Own Series, T. Nelson & Sons Ltd, London, 1930. 99 pp.

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The date for Nicholas is taken from the Savery work diary and does not appear in the book itself, which is rare and very hard to find. The covering of the spine is missing on typical used copies. The Edinburgh office of T. Nelson offered Savery £20 for all rights on Feb. 10, 1928, and she accepted immediately. It was her first sale of a book.

Riding with Jane and Aubert, his nine-year-old twin siblings, Nicolas meets in a railway compartment his eccentric cousin, Jocelyn, carrying large bundles of may flowers, red, pink, and white. The twins choose red and pink, but discard them in the roadway for Jocelyn to find, while Nicolas takes the white may with him to their new home with stern Aunt Silvia. Jocelyn is in disgrace there. He comes to family gatherings once a month so the neighbors will not talk, but he has been exiled to a small cottage known as the Thief's Hole. Only Nicolas chooses to visit him there. Nicolas has his own problems. Aunt Silvia's spoiled granddaughter Orris dislikes him, attacks him, and finally sees him banished to the Thief's Hole, also. Aunt Silvia is the first in a long line of Savery old ladies who conceal a warm heart under a forbidding exterior.

C.S.S.M. [ Children's Special Service Mission ]

Flight to Freedom (English edition of The Good Ship Red Lily). Illus. by L.F. Lupton. London : Wigmore Series No. J 7, C.S.S.M., 5 Wigmore Street, London, W.1. 1958. Printed by Page & Thomas Ltd., Sheraton Street, London, W.1 and at Chesham.

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British spelling is used by C.S.S.M. For the plot, see The Good Ship Red Lily. Savery's Puritans with their delightful names, such as Willing-Yea-Zealous Fazackerley, were certainly not silent about their religion, and Savery makes plain her displeasure when the Royalist Challoners, father and son, sleep through Sunday sermons, but evidentally C.S.S.M. was unwilling to republish the story without a more evangelical emphasis. To satisfy them, Savery introduces a silver posy ring with the message "Find Christ thine," which Toby receives along with a three-page sermon. Toby considers passing the ring along to Uncle Ingram, but delivers his own homily instead. One chapter has been added to make Ingram and his father more sympathetic. The ring reappears at the end of the book with distant church bells ringing out "Find Christ thine."

There is nothing wrong with any of this, and the additional material has been added without discontinuities in the narrative. One thing is certain: copies of Flight to Freedom are cheaper and more available on the Internet than copies of The Good Ship Red Lily!

PICKERING & INGLIS

Yellow Gates. London : Glasgow : Edinburgh: Sunshine Series No.18, Pickering & Inglis, 14 Paternoster Row, London, E.C.4. 1935. 94 pp. Reprinted many times including 1938, 1939, 1941, 1944, 1945, 1947, 1948, and 1951 as Peter of Yellow Gates, which, in 1951, was London: Dewdrop Series No. 5, Pickering & Inglis Ltd., 29 Ludgate Hill, London, E.C.4. 64 pp.

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The Savery work diaries, an inscription in my copy of the book, and the dates listed in later editions all agree that the book was first published in 1935, but the date does not appear in the book itself. By 1941 the title has changed to Peter of Yellow Gates, but that edition still has 94 pages. Book cover The work diaries speak of a wartime edition, also entitled Peter of Yellow Gates, on Feb. 9, 1945. It is reasonable to conclude that by then the page count was reduced for the war effort. The frontispiece changed between the 1935 and the 1951 editions, but no illustrator's name is given in either. Curiously, the text of the 64-page edition has more words than the 94-page text. Typically, ten to twenty lines have been added to each chapter of the latter. In only one chapter have lines from the 94-page text been deleted. There is no particular pattern to the additions, which were made at the publisher's request and earned Savery one guinea. Both the longer and shorter texts are easy to find and inexpensive.

The story is a simple one. Peter, an orphaned seven-year-old, wants to be accepted by lovable Mrs. Deniol and her irascible ailing husband, who just happens to have come into a sizable inheritance on the condition that he adopt a small boy. Unfortunately, Mr. Deniol has selected handsome, sturdy Willie rather than sickly, troublesome Peter. Things work out in the end, because, as Mr. Deniol puts it, "We know the best and the worst of each other, don't we?"

A somewhat fussy matron also wants to adopt Willie, and her name is Mrs. Creak, which Peter repeats as Mrs. Squeak. The redoubtable founding headmistress at Savery's own school was a Miss Edith Elizabeth Maria Creak. I think it probable that the girls referred to her as Miss Squeak on occasion.

The Pickering books were written for a Christian audience. Peter's simple faith is challenged by Deniol's skepticism, but that faith prevails in the end, as Deniol ponders the nature of fatherhood.

Danny and the Alabaster Box. London : Glasgow : Manchester : Edinburgh: Dewdrop Series #17, Pickering & Inglis, 14 Paternoster Row, London, E.C.4. 1937. 63 pp. Reprinted in 1949, 1956, 1960, 1969, ... which in 1960 was London: Snowdrop Series No. 11, Pickering & Inglis Ltd. 63 pp.

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Book cover Book cover Danny is easily obtained from used book dealers on the Internet. The 1937 and 1960 editions carry different series names and have different frontispieces by unidentified artists, but the texts appear to be identical. By 1969 the cover has changed again, and there is no frontispiece, at least in my copy.

The book carries us along pleasantly as the often ill, but always irrepressible Danny Chevenix and his sister Charlotte raise money for their alabaster missionary box. Neither child is a saint, so the fund-raising is as entertaining as any reader could wish. "Uncle Arthur," who explains and interprets Christian stewardship to the children, is Second Classics Master at King Arthur's, the school attended by Danny's older siblings. This school is clearly modeled on Savery's own school, the King Edward VI High School in Birmingham, and Danny's home, St. Matthew's Vicarage, is strongly reminiscent of Savery's, which was St. Mark's Vicarage. The large Chevenix family will return in 1951 with the Lutterworth publication of Redhead at School.

The Boy from Brittany. London: Sapphire Series #14, Pickering & Inglis Ltd., 29 Ludgate Hill, London, E.C.4. 1957. 96 pp. Reprinted, 1959, as a serial in OUR OWN MAGAZINE.

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Savery's last book for Pickering & Inglis was reprinted only in serial form, and used copies appear only occasionally, though at modest prices. It is not an attractive book. The paper is thick, but of poor quality, quite brown after fifty years. The information concerning the serial is taken from Winifred's Thought Book, in the de Grummond Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi library.

The publisher's offer to accept the book asked that it be lengthened by 8,000 words and added: "We should like the reference to chess in Chapter 8 deleted." The request is mentioned in the work diaries.

Savery was of Huguenot extraction on her father's side. The Boy from Brittany is one of several books she wrote about French Protestants and by its fourth chapter, Paul, the boy from Brittany, is in Cornwall becoming acquainted with most of the Kinglake family described in Savery's book-length serial The Silver Whistle. Playing on the credulity of French émigrés fleeing the revolution, Marc-Antoine, Paul's scapegrace guardian, is grooming him for the role of le Dauphin, son of Louis XVI, the lately executed king. Paul, who knows he is an orphan, but whose memory has been unreliable following a serious accident, believes what he is told. Of the Kinglakes, only credulous Emilie Treloar believes the claims. The rest of the family, especially Emilie's small son Richard, are searching for evidence to expose Paul as a fraud. When Paul recovers his memory and remembers who he is, he must decide what to do. Christian readers of the Pickering series will not be surprised by his decision.

There is an inside joke in the book. In The Silver Whistle, Ivo Kinglake is called the Ice King. In The Boy..., Paul is called the Snow King by Richard and Marc-Antoine.

CHRISTIAN COLPORTAGE ASSOCIATION

Sir Dominic's Scapegrace by 'Elizabeth Cloberry'. Cover by J. R. B.  Edgware: Fireside Stories No. 6, Christian Colportage Association, The Corner House, Whitchurch Lane, Edgware, Middlesex. October 7, 1947. 19 pp. Book cover

Savery also used the Cloberry pseudonym for a short story written for WOMAN'S MAGAZINE in 1940. Sir Dominic's Scapegrace is mentioned several times in Savery's work diaries as she made changes in the manuscript at the suggestion of various editors. At times the story had a length of about 50,000 words, but there were only about 16,000 when it was published. A list of her books and serials, appended to Winifred's Thought Book, verifies her authorship and the 1947 date. For a substantial fee, the British Library will send you a copy. I think the cover illustrator was J. R. Burgess.

Sir Dominic's scapegrace is his troublesome middle son, Nicko, who runs away from home as a teenager. When Nicko sneaks into the family home through an attic window five years later, he falls, is severely injured, and wakes to find himself the bedridden captive of Sir Dominic, who is sceptical of everything Nicko has to say for himself.

The name of the publisher guarantees that a reconciliation is in order, but the preaching is by example rather than by sermons, and there are two unpleasant villains to assure that the story won't become too sweet to be swallowed.

VICTORY PRESS

Blue Fields. Frontispiece by Thomas Henry. London: Victory Press, Clapham, London, S.W.4. 1947. 203 pp. Originally issued, Nov. 1940 to Oct. 1941, as a serial in YOU AND I

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Of all the novels that Savery wrote, Blue Fields is the most centered upon Christianity. This is more than a story about Christian behavior and Christian conversion. Savery asks the reader to look at the heart of Christian demands and rewards. I do not know that she ever wrote a better "Christian book," and it was favorably reviewed in THE HARVESTER. It also sold well. Blue Fields is available infrequently on the used book market.

The story centers on four individuals: Tracy, Midge, Sam, and Jacynth. Midge's idolized aunt and guardian, Tracy, was killed in an airplane crash, but her picture hangs in the manor, and her legacy pervades the book. An atheist, she viewed Christians as hypocrites and opposed anyone who might attempt to make a convert of Midge, including his devoted brother Sam, who is the most common victim of Midge's bad behavior. When Midge's worldly guardian Diana can't turn down an opportunity for an around-the-world cruise, he is turned over to Diana's cousin Jacynth, who takes on the thankless, poorly paid task of trying to manage the "queerest thirteen in the world, and a difficult handful."

Jacynth is sweet and competent, but over her head, Sam is long-suffering past belief, and Midge conceals desperate secrets that make him willfully wicked and self-destructive. This is not a book for many children, not because Savery is obscure, but because she poses adult questions. Only Patric, in Forbidden Doors, faces grimmer decisions, and Patric's torments have external causes, while Midge tortures himself.

Up a Winding Stair. Frontispiece by Thomas Henry. London: Victory Press, Clapham, London, S.W.4. 1949. 104 pp. Originally issued, Feb. to Dec. 1945, as a serial in YOU AND I.

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Simon "Spider" Armadale is disfigured and in chronic bad health following injuries suffered in the RAF. Estranged from his best friend, Rusty, he is bitter and disconsolate. Although he earns a living wage as a manager on the estate of the absent Lord Orisley, Spider's income is barely sufficient to maintain his selfish stepmother, Mrs. Venstey, and his two little sisters. Spider lives not with his family, but in a stone tower nearby that is cozy, but dilapidated. While Spider is away, his stepmother rents the other side of 'her' house to the Enderby's. Mrs. Enderby is an invalid, her husband is in the service, and they have four young children, so Mrs. Enderby sends for her sister Christabel, a nurse with a love for children. When Chris arrives, she recognizes Spider, whom, with Rusty, she had nursed following their war injuries.

Chris is one of Savery's nice young Christian ladies, but Mrs. Venstey has few redeeming features, and Spider is not a nice young man; nevertheless, everything ends happily, rather more happily than is strictly reasonable. The book can be obtained for a small premium on the Internet if one is patient.

Scarlet Plume. London: Victory Press. 1953. 158 pp.

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Rose Fragonard was taken from her home village when she was fifteen and imprisoned as a Huguenot for the next thirty-five years. Shortly after returning home, she discovers Phillipe, a filthy toddler who has wandered away from the cottage of his foster mother. Installed in her place by the local Marquis, who becomes Phillipe's godfather, Rose watches Phillipe grow in stature and in favor with the Marquis. Strange things happen. Rose returns to the cottage one day to find that Phillipe's true mother has taken him away. Rose follows her all the way to Marseilles, where Phillipe is left for the nuns on the steps of a convent a few feet above the river's edge. Convinced that the mother does not want Phillipe, Rose takes him home again. Now she is the child's full guardian, accepting no money from the Marquis and insisting on raising the child as a Protestant. Nevertheless, the Marquis continues his interest in the boy, while Rose, in turn, finds it possible to assist the Marquis and his wife, who have their own secret tragedy. In common with many Savery stories, the villains of the story are not caught and punished; they repent.

Except for Emma, this is the only Savery novel told after the fact by an older woman. The dust jacket has a picture from Chapter 8 of Phillipe dancing under the moon. There are no illustrations in the book, which is easily available on the Internet.

Thistledown Tony. London: Victory Press, Clapham Crescent, London, S.W.4. 1957. 120 pp. Printed by Richard Clay and Co., Ltd., Bungay, Suffolk.

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As with many children in Savery stories, Tony is being raised by an older Nannie. He does not remember his mother, his father must work elsewhere, and the doctors have recommended that Tony live in the country. The thistles he gathers are used to stuff pillows for local use and to sell for coins to put in the missionary box. Twins Puff and Mic, who are two years older than Tony, resent his pursuit of their grandmother's thistles, and they chase and torment him when they find him alone on the moor. Life changes after George, Tony's father, inherits his father's estate following a deathbed reconciliation. The good news is that Tony and his father need no longer be separated, and Nannie can take a long-delayed trip to Australia, where she has a sick sister. The bad news is that Puff and Mic also live at the manor, because George is their half-brother and guardian. The twins resent Tony's presence in their house, and they are too jealous to share their beloved brother George. Thus, the chasing and the torments continue, both at school and at the manor, but never where George can see them. Convinced that it is the Lord's will that he not tell on them, Tony suffers in silence and even manages to pray for his oppressors. The situation cannot last forever, nor does it. Mic turns out to be a pretty good kid, Puff comes around after a fashion, and George's home knows peace at last.

This book for younger children has much more in common with the Lutterworth books being published simultaneously than with the earlier titles for Victory Press. There is no frontispiece. The dust jacket by 'G J' shows Tony in hiding, a scene from the second page of the novel. One wonders if the illustrator read any further. Used copies may be found without difficulty, but they aren't cheap.

This web site © 2010-14 by Eric Schonblom. The unpublished works of Constance Savery are reproduced with the permission of her literary heir and copyright owner, J.D. Hummerstone. The covers are reproduced in low resolution to respect the copyrights of their respective artists and publishers.