Reproducing “Greywacke Jones” in this blog got me thinking about children’s books and the books I absorbed when I was a child.
The first “big book” I read – by which I guess I mean the first book that was a novel with chapters – was “Tuppeny, Feefo and Jinks” by Enid Blyton. I was six years old and this book started my reading journey. From that time there has never been a day when I have not been in the progress of reading a book, when there has not been an unfinished book at my bedside.
I was to read the vast majority of Enid Blyton books, many of them several times over – “Binkle & Flip”, The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, The Naughtiest Girl in the School, The Folk of the Faraway Tree series. I’m pretty sure Enid Blyton books filled my early childhood years from about the age of 6 to 9, although I remember travelling to Narnia for the first time at this age (and didn’t want to return!), “Charlotte’s Web” and Pippi Longstocking.
Others I recall – devouring every single Agatha Christie. The “Gemma” books by Noel Streatfeild. “The Girl of the Limberlost”.
In mentioning Agatha Christie, special acknowledgement has to go to the very first book of hers I read – “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd”. I still can feel the profound impact of that book – like, so this is what I’ve been missing all my life?? (I think I was 13!) I borrowed this from the school library and clearly recall staying up all night to finish it, and the shock and awe I felt at the end. I’ve become a bit of a connoisseur of crime novels over the ensuing decades and can categorically state that NO ONE matches Agatha Christie.
When I look back on my childhood, I think of the T.S. Eliot poem, and in the pools of light thrown by the street lamps of memory are all those books of my childhood. Reading has been THE abiding passion for me since “Tuppeny, Feefo and Jinks”. Stick me on a deserted island with nothing but a never-ending supply of books and I’ll be happy. My heartfelt thanks to all the writers of the books of my childhood, for igniting and stoking the fire that has warmed me all my life.