Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Peering inside and preserving 1962's "Dragons, Fairies and Fun"

For a book published in 1962, Dragons, Fairies and Fun by Dora Broome seems to be fairly obscure. It was published by Cultural Publications Ltd. of Nottingham, England, and it's a small-size, 152-page hardcover, measuring 5 inches by 7.5 inches. As of this writing, I can't find any other copies for sale online, and there are no reviews or websites that discuss it, to my knowledge. Perhaps documenting it here will help in a minor way to preserve it for history, lest it fade away completely. And if anyone in the United Kingdom has memories of this book, I'd love to hear them in the comments section. 
There are some signs of provenance inside the book. Pictured above is the plate that's been affixed to the inside front cover. Written in Welsh, it explains that the book is part of the Ceredigion school library and provides details on how students can check out the book, in similar fashion to the way we do so in the United States.

The message is signed by Alun R. Edwards (1920-1986), who was a longtime librarian in Wales. In fact, he's been remembered at a ceremony next month (August 2, 2022). The Ceredigion County Council website notes that Edwards "was first appointed librarian for Cardiganshire in January 1950. Over the next quarter century, he revolutionised Ceredigion's library services and indeed the book industry in Wales as a whole. Among his visions that were realised were the expansion of travelling library services, the College of Librarianship in Aberystwyth, the counties’ book purchasing scheme, the Welsh Book Council and the establishment of reading and discussion groups. Following the re-organisation of local government, he was appointed Librarian of Dyfed in 1950. He worked as the County Librarian for 30 years until he retired in 1980."
On the next page is a faded purple stamp indicating that the book has been withdrawn from circulation at Myfrgall Dyfed Library [?] and is available to buy for 10c. And on the page after that, pictured below, a child long ago indicated their clear ownership of the book. (I believe we all did this at times during our childhoods.)
Here's a rundown of the book's stories from the Contents page:
  • Hezekiah's Dragon
  • The Knight of the Dustbin
  • Hey Diddle Diddle
  • Will o' the Wisp
  • Aunt Quenelda and the Magic Mirror
  • The Magic Carpet
  • Little Bess
  • The Story of Odd
  • The Sugar Plum Fairy
  • Buffy
  • The Chimney-Sweep and the Mayor's Procession
  • The Cuckoo that went on Strike
  • The Fish Maid
  • Goodfellow
  • The Travelling Glow-worm
  • Mrs Goblin's Christmas Shopping
The illustrator is listed as B. Gerry, and I can't find any solid information on them, given that little information. For that matter, I can't find much about the life of author Dora Broome, either. She wrote 1951's Fairy Tales from the Isle of Man and 1970's More Fairy Tales from the Isle of Man, and her other titles include The Magic Journey, The Lifeboat Fish, Matilda the Radio Mouse, Lancashire Tales, Mary-Jo's Elephant, Royal Peke, Circus Pony, Ship's Monkey and Fairground Billy. With her mixture of interest in both fairy tales and the circus, she seems to have much in common with Ruth Manning-Sanders!
Gerry's cover illustration of the dragon is probably the best of the lot. There's little that's fantastical about most of the other illustrations, beyond perhaps this one.
And that's pretty much it. Again, I'm sure there are some folks out there with memories of this book. It would be great to hear from you and to share your thoughts for posterity. 

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