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Malcolm Saville

British author Leonard Malcolm Saville was born on the 21st February 1901 in Hastings, Sussex. Sent away to boarding school at the age of nine, he received the majority of his education at the Richmond Hill School in Surrey.

On leaving school at the age of 16, he stepped into the world of the book trade, when he started work for the Oxford University Press where he found books to fulfill booksellers' orders. After a short stay at Cassell and Company in their publicity department, he began work for The Amalgamated Press in London in the same post, but was later promoted to Sales Promotion Manager.

It was during his time at The Amalgamated Press in 1926 that Saville married Dorothy McCoy. This would be a long and happy union that brought them four children and eventually many grandchildren.

Ten years later, in 1936, Saville joined the publisher George Newnes, where again he became Sales Promotion Manager. This would prove an important move in his life as George Newnes would later publish 16 of the titles in Saville's famous 'Lone Pine' series for children.

Saville began writing the 'Lone Pine' series of books during a period of separation from his family in the second world war. His wife and three of his children were evacuated to rented accommodation on a farm at Cwm Head in Shropshire, whilst he stayed at home in Hertfordshire, becoming a Deputy Night Controller. The 'Lone Pine' books were based around the area of the country where his family were staying at that time, and featured a group of children known as the 'Lone Piners'. Each member of the Lone Pine Club had to sign a document and swear to "keep the rules and to be true to each other whatever happens always".

As each chapter was finished, Saville would send it off to his family in Shropshire and await their approval by return. The finished book 'Mystery at Witchend', the first in the series, was published in 1943. However, the 'Lone Piners' would have many more adventures and further character introductions throughout the other 19 titles in the series, finishing with 'Home To Witchend', which was first published in paperback by Armada in 1978. Some of these Lone Pine adventures were serialised on BBC Children's Hour.

During 1946 Saville began work at the offices of My Garden magazine, where he would eventually become Associate Editor. He stayed with them during the magazine's move to Surrey and until it ceased publication in 1952. In the late 1950's to early 1960's, Saville again took up employment with publishers George Newnes and became editor of the popular Sunny Stories magazine, after Enid Blyton left the post to set up her rival magazine.

Throughout his writing career which spanned nearly five decades, Saville wrote approximately 90 books. His popular stories for children, in addition to the Lone Pine adventures, include the 'Jilly Family series'; 'Buckingham Family books'; 'Mike and Mary' books; 'Susan and Bill' books (the majority of these illustrated by E.H. Shepard of Winnie-the-pooh fame); 'Nettleford books' and 'Lucy and Humf' books. 'Marston Baines' was another popular series, but one that seemed to cross over to a more 'adult' fiction.

Saville did not limit his writing to just fiction. He also wrote several non-fiction books which focused on subjects he had a great interest in, such as wildlife, nature and travel. Extensive research was put into making sure that the details for these books were accurate. An example of this is 'Malcolm Saville's Country Book'. Please see the end of this article for a list of Malcolm Saville titles.

Many of Malcolm Saville's books were influenced by places he had either been to or places he had heard about and then subsequently visited. His love of places can be seen where he takes the trouble to describe them in such detail that they can actually be visited and explored by his readers! These descriptions somehow add something to his stories - a realism, that is not always found in children's stories.

Another influence on his writing was his religious and moral convictions. He had strong traditional values and these come through in his writing, where we can see he gives great importance to friendships, loyalty and family life. Also his sense of right and justice always makes for happy endings for the good characters in his stories.

Unlike many children's book authors, Malcolm Saville encouraged his readers to write to him with their thoughts on his books. He then personally undertook the task of writing back with a handwritten reply. The letters from his readers provided Saville with a valuable source of input for his future works.

The popularity and universality of Saville's stories can be judged by the level of interest and demand for his books. Some of his books have been so popular that they have had to be reprinted, many in paperback form, to fill the demand for them. This has also been good for new generations, as they too can enjoy the timeless stories.

Sadly Malcolm Saville died on 30th of June 1982, but his ideals and legacy live on through his many books.

Sources used in researching this material:
The Complete Lone Pine by Mark O'Hanlon and Book and Magazine collector No. 33 (December 1986).
List of titles derived from Wikipedia.

A list of Malcolm Saville titles

The Lone Pine series

The Buckingham series

The Jilly Family series

The Nettleford series :

The Marston Baines series

The Susan and Bill series

The Michael and Mary series

The Brown Family series / Lucy & Humf

Other fiction books

Travel books :

  • Come to London ( 1967 )
  • Come to Devon ( 1969 )
  • Come to Cornwall ( 1969 )
  • Come to Somerset ( 1970 )
  • Portrait of Rye ( 1976 )

Nature and countryside books :

  • Country Scrapbook for Boys and Girls ( 1944 )
  • Open Air Scrapbook for Boys and Girls ( 1945 )
  • Seaside Scrapbook for Boys and Girls ( 1946 )
  • Jane's Country Year ( 1946 )
  • Small Creatures ( 1959 )
  • Malcolm Saville's Country Book ( 1961 ) - an updated revision and expansion of the Country Scrapbook and Open Air Scrapbook .
  • Malcolm Saville's Seaside Book ( 1962 ) - a similar updated revision and expansion of the Seaside Scrapbook .
  • See How It Grows ( 1971 )
  • Eat What You Grow ( 1975 )
  • The Countryside Quiz ( 1978 )
  • The Wonder Why Book of Exploring a Wood ( 1978 )
  • The Wonder Why Book of Exploring the Seashore ( 1979 )
  • The Wonder Why Book of Wild Flowers Through the Year ( 1980 )
  • The Seashore Quiz ( 1981 )

Religious books

  • King of Kings ( 1958 )
  • Strange Story ( 1967 )

Other non-fiction :

  • The Adventure of the Lifeboat Service ( 1950 )
  • The Coronation Gift Book for Boys and Girls ( 1952 )
  • The Story of Winchelsea Church ( 1978 )

Contributed by Joanne Hill.

(Published 1st Oct 2013)

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