These are some of my favourite types of inscriptions – ones where a book is given as a gift. There are lots of lucky children here, given books by their aunties, uncles, parents and possibly even friends. There are books given for birthdays, Christmases, Easters and other special events.
Books given for Christmas
The Wonderful Carpet and Other Stories was given To Gill from Gran, Christmas 1945. It also reads Sally Drinkall and Sally Drinkall Donington, a contender for confused ownership.
Aptly The Christmas Book was From Marlene Xmas 1946. She doesn’t say who it was given to, however.
The Children of Willow Farm was received by what looks like Sudonil Emerson at Xmas 1948. Further down the page is from someone which I can’t make out. I actually missed it altogether the first time I looked.
The Secret Island was given to Pamela for Christmas 1949, from Uncle Wendy. That’s what it looks like anyway!
My Enid Blyton Bedside Book was also given in 1949, it reads; To Peter Xmas 1949 From Auntie Hilda & Uncle Reg.
More Adventures on Willow Farm is dated 1950 TO WENDY MERRY XMAS FROM AUNTY EVELYN + UNCLE GING. Wendy has then added her details: WENDY TURNER LITTLECOATS RD. GRIMSBY LINCS TELEPHONE. NO. 5176. Further to that there is a stamp – C.H. Turner & Co (GY.) LTD. RADIO & ELECTRICAL ENGINEERS 1&3 CORPORATION ROAD GRIMSBY LINCS PHONE NO. 23?1. I wonder why a radio and electrical engineer business would put its stamp in a book? My best guess is that Wendy’s father or other relative worked there and let her play with old stamps.
A non-Blyton now, Mystery at Witchend (The first Lone Pine book by Malcolm Saville) reads P HAMMOND 1951. It also has the inscription To PAT, Wishing you a Happy Xmas 1951 FROM DAD.
My one edition of Every Girl’s Annual (which contains one Blyton story) reads To Patricia With Love and Best Wishes From Christina + Jennifer x x x x Xmas 1951.
Enid Blyton’s Bluebell Story Book was also a gift for Christmas 1951. This time for Bridget, Happy Xmas from Hazel 1951.
A Bridget, (who knows, it could be the same one!) was given The Seventh Holiday Book the next year, it reads Bridget Xmas 1952 with lots of love.
And another one to Pat, this time The Sunny Story Book is inscribed To Pat, with best wishes for Christmas 1953. From Uncle Norman, Auntie Barbara and Alan in very neat writing.
The Ring O’ Bells Mystery was given To Bobby Happy Xmas From Peggy & Bill 1954.
The Happy Story Book has two different handwritings in it. First is Shirley J Price December 25th 1954 and then Off Aunty Masie and Uncle Frank for Christmas
Last Term at Malory Towers reads To Carole From Mam & Dad Xmas 1962
Enid Blyton’s Lucky Story Book has obviously been passed on at some point. First it reads- To Stephen From Lynne xmas 1965 xxxx. Then it says THIS Book now belongs to : – Julie Carole Batty, Mariners Flats Keadby Scunthorpe.
The Folk of the Faraway Tree isn’t dated but reads To Jean Dorothy Lyastin With Happy Christmas Wishes, from Auntie Beaty & Uncle Tim
Likewise Mr Pink-Whistle Interferes reads To Robin, With Best wishes for a very Happy Christmas from :- Margaret.
And lastly, also with no date, The Naughtiest Girl is a Monitor was for JEAN THORNE HAPPY CHRISTMAS FROM :- JOHN LIDSTONE.
Books given for birthdays
The Happy House Children – To Gillian Happy Birthday from John. As with many inscriptions someone’s gone over this one with a pen.
More about Josie Click and Bun – To My Dear Christine. Wishing you a Very Happy Birthday With love from Auntie Dora xxx 1948 The frontispiece has been coloured in and I wonder if it was Christine who did it.
Well Done Secret Seven – With Love From Elizabeth x Happy Birthday
Enid Blyton’s Magazine Annual – Happy Birthday Katherine, Love Mother, xxx. This one has an unusual inscription on the ends of the pages reading Katherine Melling.
I’ll Tell You a Story‘s inscription is really hard to make out. To Miss Aan Keflich Wishing her many Happy returns of her Birthday. Love from Grandad is what I think it says but I’m really not sure about the name!
Books given just because?
Some of these might well be birthdays as they have dates written in them, but they could well be for other reasons too. At least one is for Easter.
From mummies and daddies:
- Twenty Minute Tales – Helen Emms With Love from Mummy, Happy Easter 1955
- The Children of Cherry Tree Farm – To Patricia from Mummy & Daddy
- The Secret of Moon Castle – To Christine With love From Daddy
- The Sixth Holiday Book – To Susan from Mummy and Daddy
- The Ninth Holiday Book – To Rosemary From Mummy xx 1955
- Before I Go to Sleep – To Karen with lots of love from Daddie + Mummie x x x x x x
From aunties and uncles:
- The Second Holiday Book – To Jennifer Love Auntie Florrie
- Enid Blyton’s Nature Lover’s Book – Pamela, with love and best wishes from your Auntie Dorothy & Uncle Leonard. June 27th, 1947.
- The Buttercup Farm Family –To Janice From Uncle George & Auntie Margaret Feb 28 1959. In pencil after it says aged 6 so this might have been for a birthday.
- The Yellow Story Book – To dear Pauline with love from Auntie Kathleen Jan 1951.
- A Picnic Party With Enid Blyton – To Christine from Auntie Hela & Uncle Ron June 1959
- Down At the Farm with Enid Blyton – To Margaret From Auntie Flo & Uncle Arthur
From children to their friends or siblings, perhaps for a birthday. I could just imagine them arriving at a party clutching their gift-wrapped present to give to the birthday child.
- Five On a Hike Together – To Leslie, From Jackie & John
- Five Go Adventuring Again – To Michael, From Gary & Philip 1950
- Claudine at St Clare’s – To Edna With best wishes from Rosemary Mar 1950 and also Edna Barton, Moat Farm, Barking, Nr Ipswich, Suffolk
- The Bad Little Monkey – To David From Michael
- Jolly Little Jumbo – To Ernest from Michael 1944
- The Pole Star Family – With Best Wishes To Pat. From. Michael and Susan Bainbridge
- Six Cousins at Mistletoe Farm – To Pamela from Victoria and Janet July 11th 1949
Then there are a few I couldn’t quite work out:
- The O’Sullivan Twins – To (what looks like) Vallong (but is probably Valery?) from Daddy, Name’s Day 1950. I had no idea what name’s day is so I looked it up.
- The Mystery of the Missing Necklace – To Dear Ann With much love From Mrs ?
- The Secret of Cliff Castle – To Jonnie With love from Auntie Glenys? and Uncle Astin? Xmas 1956
- The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat – To Jenna(? Jeane? Jenae? Jenny?) From Aunty, Uncle and Lynette
And lastly a strange little note inside Trickey the Goblin and Other Stories reads To Teddah.
And a bonus which is not an inscription but I just had to share, there’s a very colourful picture drawn inside the front of Run About’s Holiday. It looks exactly like the sort of thing I would have drawn as a child, though I would never have done it in a book!
So what have I learned from this project?
A lot of people liked to write in books! I’m not sure it’s so prevalent today. I buy plenty of second paperbacks from the 90s onwards and I don’t recall seeing many inscriptions. Perhaps the modern paperback is such a throwaway commodity that nobody bothers claiming ownership?
Of the books that were inscribed it was usually the tattiest ones, the ones missing their dust jackets and so on that were inscribed. I think this signifies how much those books were loved and read.
I enjoyed looking at all the different handwriting though some of it was hard to work out. Handwriting style has changed quite a lot over the years. It was interesting to see so many people write Xmas for Christmas as I’ve seen many people lament it as a ‘modern’ and ‘American’ term which is clearly rubbish. Also interesting is the prevalence of capital A written like a large lowercase a.
So after doing this project would I write in books? Brodie gets so many, they are so much cheaper now than in Blyton’s time, so probably not just because it would be so time consuming and not special like it was when children got a few books a year if they were lucky. He has a few inscribed books as I was given some as gifts from friends and family before they were born – all personal favourites of theirs – so that will be nice to look back on.
Do you write in your books or ones for your loved ones?