Sunday 14 October 2018

Some Terrific Ts by Lynne Benton

J.R.R. TOLKIEN  John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE FRSL, born in 1892, was an English writer, poet and university professor who is best known as the author of classic fantasy works The Hobbit (1936), The Lord of the Rings trilogy (1954-5), and The Simarillion (a collection of some of his earlier work, published posthumously in 1977).  As professors at Oxford both he and C.S.Lewis belonged to an informal literary discussion group called the Inklings.  He was always fascinated by language, and invented a whole new language (elvish) for The Lord of the Rings.  From 2001-3 this was filmed as a trilogy of live-action films, directed by Peter Jackson, and won several Oscars.  These were followed by three further films based on The Hobbit, from 2012 to 2014.  Tolkien died in 1973.

BARBARA EUPHAN TODD was an English children’s writer whose most famous character was the scarecrow Worzel Gummidge, who came to life.  The first of these books was Worzel Gummidge, or The Scarecrow of Scatterbrook, published in 1936.  She wrote nine further children’s books about Worzel, several of which were adapted for radio and television from the 50s until the late 80s.  She died in 1976.

P.L. TRAVERS Pamela Lyndon Travers, OBE, was born Helen Lyndon Goff in 1899 in Australia, though she spent most of her career in England.  Her most famous character is the magical nanny Mary Poppins, about whom she wrote eight books, beginning with Mary Poppins in 1934.  Walt Disney was very keen to film the stories, and after 20 years and much persuasion she finally allowed him to do so, the result being the musical film Mary Poppins in 1964, starring Julie Andrews as the eponymous heroine.  The story of Travers herself and Disney’s attempts to persuade her to give him the film rights was filmed in 2013 as Saving Mr. Banks with Emma Thompson as P L Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. P L Travers died in 1996.

JILL TOMLINSON never intended to be a writer.  Born in 1931, she trained as an opera singer, and then decided to have a family while her voice matured. Sadly she then developed Multiple Sclerosis, so had to find another outlet for her energies.  She decided she wanted to write for children, but her first story, The Bus who went to Church, was rejected by sixteen publishers before it was accepted for a picture book.  However, she managed to continue writing through her increasingly debilitating illness, and several other picture books followed, her most popular being The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark (published in 1968).  Her animal stories have been best-selling children’s books for nearly four decades.  She died suddenly in 1986 at the age of 45.

JAMES THURBER was an American cartoonist, author,  humorist, journalist, playwright, and celebrated wit.  Born in 1894, he was best known for his cartoons and short stories for adults, but two of his children’s stories have stood the test of time: The Thirteen Clocks and The Wonderful O.  He died in 1961.

GEOFFREY TREASE, born in 1909, was a prolific British writer who published 113 books, mainly for children, between 1934 and 1997, starting with Bows Against the Barons and ending with Cloak for a Spy in 1997. His work has been translated into 20 languages. He is best known for the children's novel Cue for Treason (1940).  He insisted on writing historically correct backgrounds, which he meticulously researched, believing that children’s literature should be a serious subject for study.  At the time this was a radical viewpoint.  He was also one of the first authors who deliberately set out to appeal to both boys and girls and to feature strong leading characters of both sexes.  He died in 1998.

MARK TWAIN, born in 1835, (real name Samuel Langhorne Clemens), was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. His best-known books are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) which was modelled on his own childhood, and also introduced Huckleberry Finn as his friend.  Finn subsequently became more famous as the hero of the sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), often called "The Great American Novel".  Twain died in 1910.

SUE TOWNSEND, FRSL, was born in 1946 in Leicester.  She was an English writer and humorist whose work encompasses novels, plays and works of journalism. She was best known for creating the character Adrian Mole, and wrote a series of nine books with him as the central character, beginning with The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 ¾.  In the 80s her Adrian Mole books sold more copies than any other work of fiction in Britain.  The earliest books tell the life of a teenage boy during the Thatcher years, but the sequence eventually depicts Adrian Mole in middle age.  She died in 2014.

Next month I'll be putting the Us and Vs together, since there aren't too many of either.

Visit my website:

Latest book: Danger at Hadrian's Wall published 2018 by Coppertree Press.


Sheena Wilkinson said...

Loving this seres, Lynne! So nice to be reminded of old friends -- and introduced to others!

Enid Richemont said...

Oh thanks for this post, Lynne - so interesting.

Lynne Benton said...

Thank you, both. So glad you're enjoying my lists!

Unknown said...

Those books are great!