Anthony Buckeridge

by Harry on July 2, 2004

I only noticed this thanks to a comment from otto below, but Anthony Buckeridge, author of the Jennings books, died on June 28th, aged 92. He received a very belated OBE a few years ago, of which I know he was very proud. There are two obituaries here and here. The books, mysteriously, went out of print about a decade ago, but have come back into print recently. You can even get the scripts for the radio plays (but not, of course, the audio, which the BBC has almost certainly lost) at David Shutte books. As a kid I would wait impatiently for the opportunity to go to the bookshop in Aylesbury and then look longingly at the shelf of Jennings books thinking about which to buy next. They are, as the Guardian obit says, brilliant:

bq. Buckeridge wrote carefully and well, and often with style; each hilarious episode takes the narrative forward with an expertise usually associated with more famous authors – it is no coincidence that PG Wodehouse was one of Buckeridge’s literary heroes. He may have written about a more innocent, decent and ordered world than our own, but the essential character of a young boy remains as true today as it was 50 years ago.

I’ve been reading them aloud recently to my 7 year old daughter who, despite being an American gurl, is rivetted by them, as she should be. Timeless classics. And Buckeridge was always one of us, as Mrs Thatcher would have said. Only not one of her one of us, if you see what I mean.

Those who would like to express condolences to Mrs Buckeridge should send them to this address:

Mrs Buckeridge
c/o David Shutte,
‘Waterside’ 119 Sussex Road
PETERSFIELD : Hampshire : GU31 4LB, UK.



Lenore Ealy 07.02.04 at 5:28 pm

Thanks for bringing these to our attention. I’m always on the lookout for read-aloud material. I’m not familiar with Buckeridge at all. Is there any particular order in which one would want to read the books?


Backword Dave 07.02.04 at 7:42 pm

The Telegraph had an op-ed page article by Harry Mount on the same theme.

I hadn’t known that he was still alive; I’m still sad he’s dead.

Lenore, I think ‘Jennings and Darbishire’ was the first, but it’s been a while …


Ophelia Benson 07.02.04 at 7:45 pm

‘Front Row’ had a segment on him a couple of days ago, so it can still be heard.


harry 07.02.04 at 8:29 pm

Thanks Ophelia, that’s great. I suspect you’d like the books.

Lenore, the first is *Jennings Goes to School*. It is good, but not the best, because I think he improved (as people tend to). It is the only one that matters for order purposes — the others all exist independently of each other, but JGTS is the one in which he and Darbyshire start school.

Take Jennings For Instance is a personal favourite, but for no particular reason.

If you DO like them you should also try Richmal Crompton’s *Just William* books (which are a little more complex, and never went out of print). I managed to get an extensive quote from *William-The Hero* into a law review article last year, and am aiming to find a good quote from Jennings for my next trick….

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