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john kenney

Oliver Cromwell, 1963, Series 561 (DJ)

Oliver Cromwell is the 15th title in the 561 series, colourfully written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney.  In this colourful telling of the life of Cromwell, writer L du Garde Peach gives a very positive portrait of the main character, supported by Kenney’s lively illustrations.  If you remember from childhood Kenney’s picture of the young Cromwell fighting with the young Charles, you’ll find it very hard later on to accept that this is just a story and never actually happened.

This copy

With its original DJ (not price-clipped).  In Good condition inside and out.  There are some minor marks on the dj front panel and some more distinct ones on the back.  Neat name to title page, otherwise the book has clean pages.  I believe it to be a first edition – it is the last title listed on the back dj flap.

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The Circus Comes to Town, 1957 (missing DJ)

The Circus Comes To Town was the 10th book to be published in series 413 – the second series of Ladybird books ever produced.  The 413 series is quite a  random mixture of tales and rhymes – but all for pre-school children.  The best bit about the book are the wonderful John Kenney illustrations.  The book features two children who go to the circus.  That was a typical format for Ladybird at this stage – two children sharing a simple experience through pictures.  What’s notable about these two children is that they were called Peter and Jane.  Not THE Peter and Jane, who were later to star in their very own reading scheme – but  it would seem that the names lodged in the head of Douglas Keen.  Keen, in 1957, was the rising-star employee of Wills & Hepworth  – who would later go on to commission the Key Words reading scheme – the Peter and Jane books.

In common with all the books in series 401, the first edition of this book had 3 extra pages.  Later editions dropped these pages.

This copy has lost its original dustwrapper.   It’s generally in good used condition.  It has white endpapers and a closed-wing logo, so probably dates to the early 1960s

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King Alfred the Great, 1956, Series 561 (DJ)

King Alfred was the first title in the 561 series, colourfully written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney.  Early editions (before 1965) were issued with a dustwrapper.

In this colourful telling of the life and times of Alfred, writer L du Garde Peach and artist John Kenney set the tone for the beautiful series of history books (the longest series that Ladybird ever produced) that was to follow.  It was a first-class collaboration between the two men, ended only by the ill-health of both in the 1970s.

If you ever get a chance to see the original artwork of this book, do.  It’s massive – much bigger than most Ladybird artwork –  and really packs a punch.

This copy:

It still has its original DJ in very good condition – not price-clipped.  Someone one has neatly added a couple of ticks and ‘Marco Polo to the list of titles on the back flap of the DJ.  The book itself is in very good condition inside and out with nice clean pages.

 

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Cleopatra and Ancient Egypt, 1966, Series 561

Cleopatra and Ancient Egypt was the 22nd title in the 561 series, colourfully written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney.  This book was never issued with a dustwrapper.

I don’t think a great deal is known about the real Cleopatra – at least, not when this book was written – so the book is more about Ancient Egypt and the title perhaps an attempt to chip away at the obvious gender-gap in the titles of this series.  (There are so many interesting female figures in history – but the books merely reflect the curriculum and historical focus of their time so there’s no point in fretting about it now).

This book is in very good condition inside and out – very minor edge wear and the pages are nice and clean.   Originally priced at 24p, which dates it to the mid-1970s

 

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Warwick the Kingmaker, 1966, Series 561

Warwick the Kingmaker was the 21st title in the 561 series, colourfully written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney.  This book was never issued with a dustwrapper.

The Wars of the Roses is complicated.  This book does it’s best and it tells a good tale – but I’m still confused about it all.  Writer Peach is clearly fond of Warwick and contorts the telling to keep him as some sort of hero.

But the artwork in this one is something else!  Even by Kenney’s own high standards, he excels himself.

This book is in good condition externally and very good internally.  There’s exta wear to one edge of the spine and a small nick.  Inside the pages are nice and clean.  With an original price of 2/6 and a tally number of 150, I believe this to be a first edition.

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Napoleon, 1971, Series 561

Napoleon was the 26th title in the 561 series, colourfully written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney.

This copy:

Matt boards.  Very good condition inside and out.  Negligible wear and just a small blemish head of spine.  Nice clean pages.  This copy dates to the early-1970s and has the original price of 15p on the back.

 

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Joan of Arc, 1971, Series 561

Joan of Arc was the 28th title in the 561 series, colourfully written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney – one of the last books issued before the ill-health of Kenney put an end to this great collaboration.  I had this book as a child and read it many times.  There were so few important women in the Adventures in History series that any book with a woman actually on the cover was bound to seize my attention.  Of course, rooting for Joan meant booing for the English – but I seem to have reconciled myself to the idea without too much trouble.

This copy:

Matt boards.  Very good condition inside and out.  This copy dates to the early-1970s and has the original price of 18p on the back.

 

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Alexander the Great, 1963, Series 561

Alexander the Great was the 17th title in the 561 series, colourfully written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney.

This book was one of the last ever to be originally issued with a dustwrapper.

This copy:

Matt boards.  Excellent condition inside and out with very nice clean pages.  This copy dates to the early 1970s and has the original price of 15p on the back.

 

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The Pilgrim Fathers, 1963, Series 561

The Pilgrim Fathers was the 29th title in the 561 series, colourfully written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney.

Correspondence exists between Peach and Kenney that shows a joking concern that the book might lack ‘glamour’ and jocular pleas from Peach that Kenney make the ‘Pilgrim Mothers’ as attractive as possible!  Sadly, this was the be the last book in the long collaboration between these two men; Kenney died in the year this book was published and Peach died two years later.

This copy:

Matt boards.  A very nice copy of this hard-to-find title. There is a spot of insect damage to the inside edges of the back boards – but helpfully this isn’t visible when the book is closed.  It has very nice clean pages.  An early edition, it dates to the early-1970s with a tally number of 320 and has the original price of 15p.

 

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Robert the Bruce, 1964, Series 561

Robert the Bruce was the 18th title in the 561 series, colourfully written by L du Garde Peach and illustrated by John Kenney.

This is a colourful telling of the life of Bruce, the story builds up to the Battle of Bannockburn which is re-told with great vigour in words and pictures.  This book was one of the last ever to be originally issued with a dustwrapper.

This copy:

Matt boards.  Very Good condition inside and out with very nice clean pages.  This copy dates to the early-1970s and has the original price of 15p printed inside.

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