Saturday, 5 March 2011

Children’s Canal Books in England. (Part 1) - The Moral Tales.

Drunkenness , Depravity and Violence’ .The Moral Tales (1880-1900).

Forgotten Canal Books No2 Cover Robin DearForgotten Canal Books No2 Illustration from Robin Dear
Frontispiece & Illustrated cover from ‘Robin Dear’ 1903.

The Victorian era was characterized by increasing wealth for some and desperate poverty for many. Along with this disparity came an increase in the concern felt by public opinion for the social and religious wellbeing of those less fortunate than themselves. The moment for the social reformer had arrived, and concerning himself with the floating canal population, that man was George Smith.
Smith’s book ‘Our Canal Population’ was published in 1875 with the intention of publicising the overcrowded living conditions on canal boats and barges.These conditions along with poverty, lack of education and in Smith’s eyes a lack of religious observance led in his view to the moral degradation of the canal boating population. His lonely campaign of lectures, articles, leaflets and books was pursued throughout the 1870’s with an evangelical single-mindedness which eventually practically bankrupted him, left him jobless and with his family life in tatters.
Eventually however and as a result of his agitations, the Canal Boats act of 1877 was passed which registered the boats with local authorities and stipulated amongst other things the number of the boats occupants. The act met some but not all of Smith’s aims and so throughout the 1880’s and 90’s we find him continuing his solitary campaign of reform. Help was at hand however because as a direct result of the publicity surrounding the passing of the act and the publication of his books, a small but dedicated group of authors took up his ideas and presented them to the public in the form of fictional stories for children
Moral Tale Illus (4)
Improving and moralizing tales were the staple fare of most Victorian children’s upbringings and this small group of books with waterway themes should be viewed in this context. Invariably published by evangelical Christian organizations with a messianic reforming agenda these small cheaply produced books found great favour for presentation as prize books in school and Sunday-school.Between the Locks prize plate
In almost every book in my collection, acquired over many years there is a prize presentation plate. Typical of these is a plate in one of the first books to be published which states “A reward given for Attendance, Diligence and Good Behaviour” which gives us a good idea of the qualities expected in the recipients of these prize books. 
It’s difficult to say which was the first of these books to be published as the publishing date for all of these books is rarely given.But probably the first off the mark was ‘Water Gipsies, or The Adventures of Tag, Rag and Bobtail’ by L T.Meade which was actually first serialised in an 1878 magazine.
The editor of this magazine (Sunday Magazine) was said to be seven foot tall and to light his cigars from the gaslights in the street – an obviously flamboyant character in this otherwise pretty dour cast of performers. .
L.T.Meade was actually Elizabeth Thomasina Meade Smith (1854-1914) who, with her ultra prolific output of ten books a year and over two hundred and eighty books in her lifetime, is generally credited with establishing the ‘Girls School Story’ genre of books. An early feminist she also wrote in several other genres including crime. Water Gipsies was first published in book form in this country in 1883 and tells the story of three boat children and their drunken abusive father, a story which was to become familiar to the readers of these books.

Undated but also from around this time (British Library says 1879) ‘Between the Locks’ is the story of a pleasure boat trip on the Medway, the voyagers evangelizing amongst the Kentish workers as they travel along the river. The author was the Revd E Newenham Hoare and the publisher – ‘The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge’. Other notable publishers of this ilk were ‘The Religious Tract Society’ and the ‘ Sunday School Union’.
The year 1878 also probably saw the appearance of ‘Rob Rat – A story of Barge Life’ by Mark Guy Pearse. With a dedication to George Smith this book is probably the best known of them all, primarily I think, for its numerous illustrationsrob rat cover
These are remarkable for their ‘relative’ accuracy i.e the artist had actually seen the narrow boat, back cabin or tunnel that he illustrates. For modern eyes they also possess a period charm not seen in some of the other books whose illustrations vary from the naive to the frankly ludicrous. Forgotten Canal Books No2 Cabin from Rob Ratrob rat
Above…...Title Cover & Illustrations from Rob Rat.
Pearse’s book was printed and reprinted over the next 10 years and its longevity nearly equals that of its author who was a Cornish Methodist preacher living from 1842 to 1930.
Continued………See – (Childrens Canal Books Part 2)

Children’s Canal Books in England. (Part3). Moral Tales 1880-1900 cont’d.

Rob Rat Illus (5)Rob Rat Illus (3)
Illustrations from Rob Rat

The century of the ‘Moral Tale’ was drawing to a close and the Edwardian era was dawning; and with it came some new ideas. Victorian paternalism and class values lessened their hold on author’s imaginations and sickly sweet religious themes were definitely on the wain. A book of this kind in which religion plays a surprisingly low role is 'Us' by Mrs Molesworth which was first published in 1885.
Illustration by Walter Crane from 'Us' by Mrs Molesworth.         Mrs Molesworth was a prolific author of children's books, (especially for girls) typically emphasising moral instruction, duty and sacrifice.  'Us' is primarily noted and collected for its illustrations by the  pre  eminent Victorian Illustrator Walter Crane but in the history of children's canal books it has a very special place as it was probably the first book to portray canals and canal workers in a sympathetic and unpatronising way. Published as it was in the mid 1880's when the children's 'moral tales' with their stories of moral degradation, drunkenness and child cruelty were at their publishing height, Mrs Molesworths book contains a chapter where runaway children are befriended by friendly & sympathetic boat people whose boats are clean and tidy.It is only a chapter in the book in which the villains are that other  favourite Victorian bogey -Gipsies
But before we leave the C19th and its ‘moral tales’, four books that seem to me to be typical ‘moral tales’ but which I can find no mention of in any canal bibliography that I’ve seen. Acknowledgement should be made here to Mark Baldwin and his excellent ‘ A Bibliography of British Canals  1623 – 1950’  in the book ‘Canals , A New Look’  P’bd 1984. All canal book collectors should have a copy. Its quite indispensible and a mine of information on books you didn’t know existed. Even here though I can find no mention of these four books in my collection.Canals A New Look
Silent Highways – A story of Barge Life’  by F Palmer was published in 1881 and is thus quite an early entry in the genre. It’s a typical example of it’s kind as it  climbs the heights and plumbs the depths with chapter headings such as ‘Does it Hurt to be Dead’, ‘This is Heaven Ain’t It’, Forgotten Canal Books No2 Cover Silent HighwayHungry and Penniless’ and ‘Joy at Last’, the final outcome being that all the participants seem to have caught smallpox and died!! The story such as it is , is set on boats travelling between London and the Black Country.over there 1over there2
First editions of‘Over There -A Story of Canal Life’ (c 1889) have F.C.F as the author on the cover ,whilst later editions have the authors name in full - F.C.Fanshawe.  I can find no reference to this book nor to‘Waif and Gipsy’  (c1893)  The second book was written by  A D Phelps and is partly set on a London bound boat on the Bridgewater canal. 'Silent highways' & 'Over there' are both very rare the British Library even does not have the latter as it was destroyed in the Blitz and they have not been able to replace it.

Forgotten Canal Books No2 Cover Robin DearForgotten Canal Books No2 Illustration from Robin Dear
Finally Adela Mount’s ‘ Robin Dear – A Story of Canal Life’  was published in 1903, rather late for a moral tale. This book has probably the best cover illustration and design of all these books. It portrays a horse pulling a wide beam barge with a lock in the background and is a beautiful example of  book cover illustration done in an early art nouveau style. This is interesting in itself as the story is set on a boat travelling from King’s Langley on the Grand Junction Canal to Leicester. Keen canal buffs will spot the problem here !. Other places mentioned in the text are Heyford furnaces and Weedon.
Published as prizes and often going to juveniles who had little access to other books, these books must have instilled fear and horror in a whole generation of children and could have been responsible for the landsman's derogatory epithets of ‘dirty bargee’ etc. It is no wonder that the working population on the boats kept themselves to themselves and regarded people on the ‘bank’ with distrust. In the face of an almost universal hostility backed by an evangelical fervour, who could blame them.
Today these books can be seen as virtual diatribes. They were however a product of their time and of the religious and moral viewpoints of their authors. That conditions were bad on some of the boats cannot be disputed but then so were the conditions in the slums of the big cities. Many boatpeople led clean,honest and industrious lives, some did not. It had always been the same and indeed remained so right up to the final days of carrying in the last century.
That these books were produced in their thousands, seems almost impossible to believe as they are quite hard to find now! Many of them however are available as ‘print on demand’ books.
A final note – If you have come across any moral tales not noted here –then I would love to hear about them.

This blog continues into a new century……( See Children's Books Part4.)

Children’s Canal Books in England. (Part4) Books from the Edwardian Era.

‘Our Holiday on A  Barge’  - Books from the Edwardian Era.

With the arrival of a new century the old books were quietly forgotten and although prize books were still given, they were of a very different kind. Religious and moral  preaching; if not entirely forgotten were definitely on a backburner and instead  straightforward adventure stories were the norm.2574475585
This new trend manifested itself in children's canal books with the publication in 1903 of Richard Stead’s ‘Grit Will Tell’. This book with its stirringly British ‘Stiff Upper Lip’ title tells the story of a runaway barge boy (a not uncommon theme). However for the first time religion plays no part in the story. Moral values too are low key and instead the plot is presented as a straightforward boys adventure story which is unique in being set on a Leeds & Liverpool Canal shortboat before moving to scenes aboard a ‘market packet boat’ in the Goole area. The story later shifts to a steam dredger on the Meuse.
It’s no coincidence that the book was published by Blackies who were pioneers in the production of  ‘Tales of Daring’ or ‘Spiffing Yarns’ as they were sometimes called. They had already published one of these – ‘Aboard The Atalanta’ by Henry Frith as far back as 1877 and with several chapters set on the Regents canal it can I think be recognized as the first Children's canal book with a non religious theme.
Aboard the Atalanta Atalanta title page

Aboard The Atalanta’  1877 - The first canal adventure story.

Bss photo016
‘Jim’s Children’ 1912 – Illustrated front cover & frontispiece.
The year 1903 is pivotal in children's canal based books as it saw not only the appearance of ‘Grit Will Tell’  as the first book in a new century with a completely new direction in children's canal based books but it was also the year in which the last ‘moral tales’ were published i.e ‘Robin Dear’ and 'Littlebourne Lock'. (which unusually for a moral tale is set on the Thames) and is another Blackies children's book from around 1900.

The author of ‘Jim’s Children-A tale of Town,Country and Canal’ published in 1912 was Theodora Wilson Wilson (1865 – 1941) who was a teacher and social worker at Kendal in the Lake District. With her Quaker beliefs it is not surprising that she was also a pacifist, humanitarian and an early contributor to feminist and suffragette literature.
It is, as far as I know the only children's story to be set on the Lancaster canal and concerns the mild adventures of a family of children in and around ‘Brentholme’ (Kendal) who amongst other things travel on a Sunday School Outing down the canal. The boat is a trading boat well scrubbed out for the occasion and the children become involved with the boatwoman and her lost babies.
Again this book was published by Blackie’s and was in fact republished in 1933 as was ‘Grit Will Tell’  It is also one of the first children's books I have with a dust wrapper. The following two images are of 2 titles from 'The Boys Friend Library' series of paperback adventure story books for boys published weekly between 1906 & 1940 when paper shortages forced closure of the series. They are written by the same author and are - 'Dave the Barge Boy - A Tale of England's Waterways'  from 1910 and 'The Boy Barge Owners - A Story of Canal Life' from 1909 and are the earliest books of their type that I have found. Sydney Floyd Gowing wrote under the pen name of David Goodwin and was a fairly prolific boys short story writer.He wrote one more canal story for 'The Boys friend Library' - 'King of the Canals' in 1920.
         I have recently discovered that both of the tiles shown below were originally published in the weekly comic 'Boys Friend'  (Same publisher as library series) in 1903 but have never seen them.

our holiday1
'Our Holiday on a Barge’  by Alice Talwin Morris.1911.
The subtitle of this book is 'Nature Stories and Pictures for Little Folks’ ; its a familiar phrase and one which accompanied instructional books from Victorian times on, although it somewhat belies the age of some of the children in the illustrations.
Bss photo031
This book is important because for the first time children's fiction seems to move into the real world. The story is a simple one. Father hires a barge for a holiday and the family set out to travel up the Thames.  They witness the sights and sounds of the river and discover the plants, animals and birds on its banks.
Bss-photo0306Bss photo028

Alice Talwin Morris the author was the wife of Talwin Morris the Art Director at Blackie’s, the children's book publishers of Glasgow. He is best remembered today as a designer of book covers in the Art Nouveau style and  was a member of the renowned ‘Glasgow school’, whose leading light, Charles Rennie Macintosh is still revered today.
The circle in which the young couple moved had a libertarian, bohemian and artistic outlook and this approach is reflected throughout the book. The illustrations in colour and black and white are numerous (over40) and those of boats and barges are for a change reasonably accurate although one sometimes wonders whether it’s an English or a Dutch river that's being portrayed. However compared with what went before its quite revolutionary. It’s also the first time in a children's book where a barge is hired and converted for a holiday although the precedent had been set a couple of times before in adult fiction e.g ‘Two Girls On A Barge’  by V Cecil Coates in 1891 and ‘Strange Adventures of a House-Boat’ by William Black 1888.
Bss photo029
So for the first time in a juvenile canal book, a simple non moralizing story is told in which the parents and children are shown as a family enjoying and exploring the world around them. Its like a breath of fresh air and coming as it did at the start of a new century and in the middle of the Edwardian period it was a portent of things to come.
Collectors looking for a copy of this book should realise that it was also issued in a deluxe edition with ,interestingly, a different cover design and also in exactly the same form and with the same illustrations but combined with a separate travelling caravan story in ‘Happy Days By Road and River’ issued in the same year 1911.
Happy Days by Road & River001
After the publication of these two books ,nearly two decades were to elapse before another children’s book with a waterways theme appeared in the UK.
Finally to end this chapter I show the decorative front cover of  Alphonse Daudet's novel 'La Belle Nivernaise' translated from the French and published in 'The Children's Library' series by Fisher Unwin around 1906, the example shown above is a third edition from 1908.. A famous and well loved novel in France where it was first published in the 1870's, it tells the story of a Peniche and its family crew on their travels over the French waterways. It was translated by Robert Routledge of the family publishing firm of the same name and first published in English translation in 1885.
Interestingly it seems to be probably the only early French waterway book to be translated into English. Likewise Richard Sargent's moral tale 'Ned The Barge Boy' is probably the only English waterways story to be translated into French.
To be continued. See Children’s Canal Books Part5.

Children’s Canal Books in England. (Part 5) Adventure Stories from the 1930's.

Adventure Stories of the 1930’s.

Fossil the scout Dustwrapper
1933 First Edition. Dust Wrapper.

After the appearance of ‘Our Holidays on a Barge’  in 1911, the appeal of an English canal as a setting for juvenile fiction seems does not seem to have engaged the minds of most of  the children's writers of the 1920’s and 30’s. Indeed Canal literature focusing on the canals of the U K was in something of a nadir during these years with interest being focused on the waterways of Europe. It’s true that these inter war years saw the appearance of books set on rivers, and most notably on the Thames with for instance ‘The Mystery on the River’  by Brian O’Farrell  arriving in 1933.  
The popularity of the Norfolk Broads as a holiday area for middle class families was well established and since Victorian times families had holidayed on converted wherries etc. These activities had spawned an attendant literature for adults and occasionally for children, this most famously shown in Arthur Ransome’s series of books set initially on the lakes of Northwest England ‘ Swallows and Amazons ‘ – 1929 and then on the Broads in 1934 with Coot Club.

Coot Club. 1934. First Edition.

Mark Harborough’s ‘Fossil the Scout’  appeared in 1933 and can be said to be the first ‘modern’ children's canal book to appear in the UK. I certainly haven't discovered any juvenile book with an English canal theme appearing before this. They could be out there and I would love to be proved wrong but this simple story involving a scout troop and their adventures does seem to be the first of its kind.
Fossil the scout 1047Fossil the scout 1049Fossil the scout 2048
Illustrations and Title Page from ‘Fossil the Scout’ 1933.

All the elements that were to be the recognizable hallmarks of children's canal adventures in the flood of books to come later in the 1940’s are here in this pioneering book – mystery, adventure, an element of danger,good realistic illustrations and of course the essential ‘props’ of boats and a canal tunnel!
‘Fossil’  is not quite the earliest item from the 1930’s in my collection.That honour goes to an inauspicious little comic from 1932 – Fairyland Tales with its story All Aboard a Barge.
Fairyland Tales 1932
This comic first appeared from its Scottish publisher in the late 1920’s. With its early art deco coloured cover and its period illustrations it was obviously intended to appeal to the very youngest readers. Some canal book lovers can find no interest in children's books at all and even less for ‘comics’ but we should remember the example of the Victorian Moral Tales which influenced children's opinions from an early age. I make no apologies for collecting the most seemingly ephemeral or insignificant items –they all have their place.
Fairyland Tales IllusFairyland Tales Title Page
Illustrations from ‘All Aboard a Barge’  1932.
So we find few children's books from the 1920’ & 30’s, a situation paralleled in adult books set in England. An actual voyage of discovery took place in 1939 however whose purpose was research for a children's book that was to be published in 1940.
Continued in Children’s Books .Part 6

Children’s Canal Books in England. (Part 6) Adventure Stories from the 1940's.

Adventure Stories of the 1940’s.
Explorers Afloat 
Explorers Afloat’  First Edition 1940.

Garry Hogg’s first book really belongs to the 1930s since,although it was published in July 1940, it was conceived after an actual voyage on the Grand Union Canal during April 1939. As it is such an important book I have already discussed it in an earlier post of mine – see – Oodles of Ice Cream & Fizzy Pop – posted Oct 2010 - go to I didn’t include the art deco type illustrations in that post so here they are now.
Explorers Afloat illus1 (2)Explorers Afloat Illus1

Of all the books from the 30’s/40’s period, this book is probably the hardest & most expensive to acquire, apart,that is, from Susan Woolfitt's children's book – ‘Escape to Adventure’ published a few years later which is also very elusive !
Garry Hogg also wrote another book with a waterway setting, this time set on the Thames – ‘Houseboat Holiday’ – published in 1944.
Houseboat Holiday title page
Nostalgic and evocative, period, art deco illustration from Houseboat Holiday. 1944

The War Years, Tom Rolt and ‘Getting away from it all’.
Anyone familiar with accounts of war time life will have noted the war weariness of all – civilians and military alike. This manifested itself in many ways. People needed to remove themselves if only for a little while from the never ending struggle to survive –from rationing – from long work hours and from the general affects and atmosphere of wartime Britain.
Nella Last in the book which derived from her wartime diaries kept  for the Mass Observation Project ‘ Nella Last’s War ‘ P’bd  1981   was a typical example as she loved to get away from war battered Barrow in Furness for a break to the shores of Coniston Lake in the hills of her beloved Lakeland. Walking and hiking became ever more popular and in the field of literature, books with a nostalgia for peaceful pre war days were very popular as were books which featured the countryside and countryside pursuits.
This was one reason why Tom Rolt’s  ‘Narrow Boat’  published in 1944 was so popular. With its nostalgia for an ancient and peaceful way of life it was an immediate hit and has never been out of print since. Its importance was profound and its influence has been felt in the canal world right down to the present day. With Rolt leading the way other authors were not slow to follow,  although it’s strange that in the decade after the war there were more books published for children than for adults.

First Edition. Pb'd 1941.

Isla Mitchell published her book - The Beginning was a Dutchman set on the Grand Union Canal in the same year that Narrow Boat hit the book stalls. 
Malcolm Saville and Enid Blyton - two top names in the world of children's books were quick off the mark in acknowledging this new found interest in the canal world and quickly realised that it would make an ideal setting for their books.
Painted Box. 1st Ed 1947 
First Edition Dust Wrapper.1947.
Malcolm Saville,a man of strong religious and moral convictions, published his first children's book in 1943. As the second book in the ‘Michael & Mary’ series – ‘The Riddle of the Painted Box’  appeared in 1947 and with its setting of canal and countryside fully complied with what was to become Saville’s trademark i.e children's books with a strong emphasis of place with an adventure usually set in the English countryside. His many books have  appeared as films, as a T V series and on radio. In all, he set three of his books on an English canal.

 Reprint of 1950 with a different dust wrapper.Riddle of the Painted Box 2nd. 

You Didn’t Know Enid Blyton Had Written a Canal Book ?
Enid Blyton was a very controversial figure and I like most other children in the 1940’s & 50’s just couldn’t get enough of her books. Looking back on those years now I can remember being quite mesmerized by the children in these books. How was it that these children had such exciting adventures all the time, lived in large houses with a cook, travelled to exotic places such as Cornwall and had relations who worked as scientists or in professional occupations.? In my world just after the war I could only dream of such things and was far too young to know or be concerned with questions of class, race or gender.
To be fair to Enid Blyton it is true that for the first half of the 20thC most children's book authors were impeccably middle class and wrote from a middle class perspective. However I often wonder if these authors ever considered what effect this aspect of their writing could have on a child who enjoyed none of their privileges. Much food for thought here I think!!Saucy Jane Family 1947.
The Saucy Jane Family’  1947 by Enid Blyton. First Edition.Title page.

Intended for a younger age group than Malcolm Saville's readers – The Saucy Jane Family was reprinted over many years. However there were as far as I know no film,radio or TV appearance for this book. Enid Blyton's work was,despite,its popularity with kids almost universally condemned by critics who said that apart from being  badly written, her attitude to class,race and gender was reprehensible to say the least, particularly in view of the age of the intended readership of her books and so its not surprising that the BBC refused to allow her work to be broadcast for at least 20 years.
A Unique Book.
Last and not least of the three books that appeared in 1947 is Bert Thomas’s ‘A Trip on A Barge – A Small Boys Adventures with the Water Gypsies’  Small and unassuming as it is, it is nevertheless one of my favourites and as I have never seen another copy it must also be one of the rarest of children's books. A small thin volume designed for the younger reader it nevertheless has a quite unique style and has a well researched and authentic ‘feel’.
A Trip on a Barge. Cover. 1947A Trip on A Barge. Title Page 1947
Cover and Title Page from ‘A Trip on A Barge – A Small Boys Adventures with the Water Gypsies’  by Bert Thomas. 1947.

Bert Thomas is interesting ,not least for the fact that he was a professional cartoonist and the son of a sculptor. In the early 1900’s he moved to London and worked for magazines & newspapers such as ‘Punch’ and ‘The Evening News’. He designed the ‘Arf A Mo, Kaiser ‘ poster in the First World War and designs for National Service and the railways in the Second W W. His design for ‘Is Your Journey Necessary’ is justly famous. He also produced several instructive books  for children of which A Trip on a Barge is one.Imacon Color Scanner   !CF6DiU!BWk~$(KGrHqN,!i8E1N!05Y9DBNWqsOws6g~~_12
Information posters designed by Bert Thomas.
‘A Trip on a Barge’  is produced in the artists typical cartoon style with a cartoon illustration accompanied by text on each of the 15 pages of the book. Its interesting that within the limits of a cartoon style Thomas manages to convey an accuracy in detail and authenticity which shows that unlike many earlier illustrators, he was an eyewitness to the scenes he drew.A Trip on A Barge Illus 3A Trip on A Barge Illus 1

Published at the height of post war austerity on cheap paper but with colour(albeit only three) illustrations, this book is a charming and unassuming treasure of 1940’s book design. The books rarity is probably due to its ephemeral nature  and style and as it does not appear in any canal children's book list that I’ve seen one can only assume that it's not deemed important enough!!
For me its beauty lies in its authenticity, and its importance, in the fact that it is the FIRST English children's book to be illustrated in a cartoon style.
It is quite Unique !!
One last observation – The breasted up pair of boats nearing the bridge in the illustration above with a general stores on the left of the bridge. Could this be the famous boaters store at Marsworth ?. Looks like it to me!
On to a  Good Thing ?
Finally the 1940’s output of juvenile titles ended in 1948 with the publication of four more titles.
Malcolm Saville followed up his 1947 book success with a new title – ‘Two Fair Plaits’. Set on the Regents Canal and the London Docks. It is the second book in his Jillies series.
Two Fair Plaits 1st Ed115 

A young David Severn produced ‘The Cruise of the Maiden Castle’  during this year (1948). His real name was David Unwin son of the Unwin half of the publishers Allen & Unwin. The fact that his father told him that his publishing house had lost a million and a half children's books in the London Blitz and that consequently there was a severe shortage of books for children, may have influenced the author to start writing for kids in 1943.

Also published in 1948 and only four years after Garry Hogg's book with the same title - The Dust Jacket to Marjory Cleves book is printed in typical War austerity colours. A girls school tale.
Cruise of the Maiden Castle 1st

Finally, and the last book of the decade , ‘Escape to Adventure’  is probably one of the best books of this period. From a critical point of view authenticity is again the key note , so its unsurprising to find that its author was one of the wartime trainees on the Grand Union Canal Scheme (the so called Idle Women). Susan Woolfitt who had already published an autobiographical account of her life on the boats with ‘Idle Women ‘ in 1947 (See my Jan 2011 post – ‘Who Was Amy’ - go to  ) wrote this exciting and very realistic account of two children and their canal adventures. It is again a very scarce book and I show the only copy I have seen with a dust wrapper (battered & torn I'm afraid).!
To continue – Go to my posts archive for  Children’s Books Part7.