Forgotten Books by Well-loved Children’s Authors

Back in March, I posted this missive to other book bloggers looking for help to compile a list of forgotten authors.

I had some great suggestions as there is definitely love out there for digging-up neglected books especially amongst those who have discovered Persephone Books.

In fact it was two Persephone books (Saplings and The Shuttle) along with a rogue A.A. Milne mystery novel that inspired me to create the list. Of course, it’s also Persephone Reading Week at the moment (more details here and here) so I’m hoping to discover others!

However, I had a little chat to myself (as you do) and told myself that  I needed to be a bit stricter about my criteria because otherwise it really is a bit of a vague topic. As what had attracted me to doing this at first was reading books by authors who were known for their children’s writing, I decided that would be the backbone of a sort of organic list of titles.

Below is the beginnings of my list (once I get a few more I’ll add a more comprehensive page to Novel Insights).

  • I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith (101 Dalmations)
  • Saplings, by Noel Streatfeild (Ballet Shoes)
  • The Family Roundabout, by Richmal Crompton (Just William)
  • The Red House Mystery, by A.A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner)
  • The Shuttle, The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden)
  • Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom, Work, and The Chase, by Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)
  • The Blue Castle, by L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables)
  • Apricot Sky, by Ruby Ferguson (Jill’s Gymkhana)

I’ll also be doing a bit of hunting myself. I did a bit of Googling the other day and discovered that Hans Christian Anderson and J.M. Barrie had written adult books but as is often the case these are mostly out of print. Also, as Eva of A Striped Armchair pointed out in her review of Castle Eppstein “sometimes classics fall into obscurity for good reason” – so I’d like to vet them first!

Have you got any more to add? If so, I’d love you to drop me a comment (feel free to include links to reviews for my page!)

34 responses to “Forgotten Books by Well-loved Children’s Authors

  1. Ruby Ferguson also wrote my favourite Persephone, Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary:

    Off-the-top of my head and other than those you already have listed, I can only think of Roald Dahl. Simon T mentioned to me last week specific CS Lewis books for adults but I can’t remember which ones…

    • novelinsights

      Roald Dahl is a great one – I loved his adult stories. I shall have to quiz Simon at the weekend about CS Lewis 🙂

  2. I love The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge – a lovely and comforting read.

  3. What a fun project. In fact, Noel Streatfeild wrote MANY books for adults, including some “light romances” under the name of Susan Scarlett. See this website for more details:

  4. I never knew Dodie Smith wrote 101 Dalmatians! That was really a surprise.

    • novelinsights

      I know! Actually I didn’t realise, perhaps that’s the forgotten connection (if not the actual book!)

  5. Elizabeth Goudge also wrote a lovely adult book called Green Dolphin Country which is brilliant and now only published by Capuchin Classics but it’s worth reading although it is a doorstop!

  6. The Blue Castle is one of my favourite books! I have to say, I’ve never thought of I Capture the Castle as an obscure book – it’s quite mainstream, the last ten years.

    A great publisher of forgotten books by famous classics authors is Hesperus – they have an impressive list of books we’ve never heard of by Big Name authors. But I think it’s a bit harsh to decide that some should have been left in obscurity – isn’t that a matter of personal opinion? It seems like, the books that “survived” and are more popular are so because they were more popular in their day, and in subsequent “days”, but it doesn’t follow that the non-famous ones must be obscure for a reason just because they’re not popular or well-known. Some books weren’t appreciated in their day but are huge now. Didn’t everyone laugh at Moby Dick and scorn it in its own day?

    Sorry, ranting – interesting topic. I wish they’d re-release The Blue Castle; the only edition available is a piece of crap that falls apart and has a terrible cover!

    • novelinsights

      You make a good point! Actually though I hadn’t heard of it until I got into book blogging…

      I’m hearing so many good things about The Blue Castle, I will have to get a copy. I’d also like to read some Hesperus books they sound great!

      You are perfectly welcome to rant at Novel Insights – always open to different points of view!

  7. Pingback: Persephone Round-Up #6 | Paperback Reader

  8. Joanna Lloyd wrote many books for girls(Audrey, a New Girl is very funny indeed) and also the rather fun mystery series republished by Rue Morgue in her real name Joan Coggin

    • novelinsights

      Hi Donna, I don’t know Joanna Lloyd – I will have to look her up, thank you for the suggestion!

  9. I just wanted to note to you and your readers that there’s an entire website devoted to the subject of forgotten classics: The Neglected Books Page.

    Although I’ve yet to write it up, Chloe Marr is another remarkable adult novel by A. A. Milne, and one still out of print.

    • novelinsights

      Hi Brad, so glad you stopped by, thanks for the link! Also would love to read more A.A. Milne so that’s a great suggestion.

  10. Annabel (gaskella)

    Nina Bawden is famous for her children’s books (Carrie’s War and the Peppermint Pig in particular) and has written many great adult books too – Circles of Deceit was Booker listed.

  11. Not totally what you were asking for but a thought anyway. I can only think of an author who’s known for grown up books but has written a book for children – Salman Rushdie Haroun and the Sea of Stories.

    • novelinsights

      Hi Joan, thanks for stopping by with your suggestion! That’s a sort of topsy-turvy one 🙂 I remember reading that as a kid and really enjoying it.

  12. I love all of Richmal Crompton’s many and various novels, and I love AA Milne’s work so much that I’m going to pop over to your original Milne post and rave more there!

    • novelinsights

      Please do! I have only read Just William but loved his writing so would happily read more.

      • Richmal is a woman 😉 Just writing a post about one of her novels, it’ll appear later in the week.

      • novelinsights

        Oh Simon, thank you for setting me straight! How funny – i guess it’s from reading the Just William books I just assumed . they were written by a man. Looking forward to your review!

  13. Josephine Elder also wrote books for adults, though she was probably best known for her juvenile books.

    Check out Greyladies who are republishing books that fit into your criteria.

    • novelinsights

      Hi Geraldine, thanks for your suggestion! I already had a little look at the link and spotted a Noel Streatfield.

  14. I thought of another one lastnight – Monica Dickens. She wrote many novels for adults (and is a Persephone author!), and autobiographical novels but also wrote some children’s books including the wonderful World’s End series, and the slightly better known folly foot books.

    • novelinsights

      Hi Verity – great stuff! Thanks for coming back with the suggestion. My list is in progress and will be going up soon 🙂

  15. I’ve been trying to get my hands on Elizabeth Goudge’s Green Dolphin Street for several years now. Didn’t realize till recently that she also wrote children’s books.

  16. Pingback: My TBR & Japanese Literature Challenge 4! « Novel Insights

  17. I was writing for Walker Books throughout the Nineties, but most of my books have gone out of print. However, my first book, The Time Tree, has recently attracted some very exciting TV film interest. Do check me out.
    In the past few years I’ve been published with Franklin Watts, doing little books for early readers which are being quite successful.

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