Elsie and the Abbey series

Hey there,

Hope you are well today.

I’ve spoken a few times about the books that affected my life when I was little, particularly the Abbey Girls books by Elsie J Oxenham. Elsie died in January 1960, so to commemorate the anniversary of her passing, I thought I would look into Elsie’s life and the Abbey series a little more.

Elsie was born in 1880 and was one of six children, four girls and two boys. Her father was also a writer and she adopted Oxenham, his pen-surname, when her first book (it was not part of the Abbey series) was published in 1907. Elements of her life unsurprisingly turned up in her fiction, for example folk dancing played a large part in the Abbey series and Elsie was a member of the English Folk Dance Society.

There are over 30 Abbey books and some related shorter stories. Apparently characters from the series show up in some of Elsie’s other works and characters from her other works show up in the Abbey series. Although not all of her works are interrelated, I love the idea that her characters moved in and out of each other’s lives and continued to exist beyond the confines of one series.

I have five of the Abbey books, thanks to my mum, and as I said in this post the books made me want red hair, twins and my own Abbey. They also read well alongside my love of dancing and I remember making up my own steps to the dances Elsie described that must have come from her folk dance background. I was also more than a little enchanted by the May Queens who each had their own unique colour and flower associated with their “reign”.

Elsie’s books are collectors’ items and, more than 50 years after her death, there are appreciation societies internationally for those who collect and/or are interested in her works. It is my plan to track down the rest of the Abbey series, the main list you can find here. I’ve had a look and it might prove to be time consuming and a little costly, but I’d love to know more about Joy, Jen, Rosamund and Maidlin among the many, many others who appeared in the books. Many of the books are now out of print although Girls Gone By Publishers reprinted some of the series and it is still possible to get them second hand. The hunt is on 😉

Do you know the Abbey series? Are there books from your childhood that you would like to revisit? I’d love to know, so please get in touch either here or on twitter.

Elle  xx

Background information and further reading:

The world of Elsie Jeanette Oxenham and her books – Monica Godfrey

Wikipedia -Elsie J. Oxenham

Wikipedia – Abbey Series

Books from my mother

Hey there,

Hope you are well today.

I was so pleased last week when Twin 2 asked me to pre-order the latest in the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy. Turned out it was to be released the next day and as soon as it arrived, Twin 2 jumped up onto the settee and started reading, forgetting all about football, TV, the Xbox etc. I’m so delighted that he has responded this way to a book.

I spoke here about books that affected me as I was growing up and  it started me thinking again about the books my Mum passed on to me when I began to show an interest in reading. My favourites were those in the Abbey Girls series by Elsie J Oxenham, but she also passed me Adventure for Two by Elsie, the story of two sisters, one with aspirations to be a ballerina, the other who (amongst other things) started a business rowing tourists from her seaside home to a local island. This really struck a chord with me because it involved ballet and boats. What could be better?

I made my way through Enid Byton’s Mallory Towers books (apparently there were only six, I feel as though there were many more) and Mum also gave me Cherry Jam at Glencastle by A. Ruby Forde, which I read and re-read but sadly can remember little about, apart from it involved two girls – one called Cherry, the other Cerise, which I considered kinda clever at the time. 😉

These books were written way before I was born, but they were still a very important part of my childhood. I’m on the case now to see which books from my childhood I could pass down to my guys. They’re still a bit young for my first choice – Fahrenheit 451 – but we’ll get there.

Which books from your childhood would you like your children to read? I’d love you to let me know, either here or on twitter.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your day. 🙂

Elle xx