Saturday, September 22, 2012

Dulwich Village

One of the pleasures of being a Jane Shaw fan is that I've made quite a few new friends around the world through her writing. The latest is Ruth Redfern in Crail, Scotland, who sent me this book about Dulwich Village. As all Jane Shaw enthusiasts know, Wichwood Village in the Susan books is based on Dulwich. This book, which was published in 1981, is packed with information and pictures of the area, many of which are places where Susan, Midge, Bill and Charlotte wandered. Well worth getting a hold of. So thanks to Ruth for this gift.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jane Shaw Quiz 85

In the Susan stories, who is old Vulture?

The answer to Quiz 84: Ricky's real name is Erica. Her full name is Erica Andersen.

Quote of the Day

In an old chest of drawers, unobtrusively mingled with old maps, old water-colours and worthless prints, they found ancient parchments, manuscripts with crabbed old English script, vellum lovingly illuminated by medieval monks. Naturally, the children could not identify them, but that they were the proceeds of previous robberies by the Mad Collector they were certain.

From SUSAN'S HELPING HAND, Chapter 10, Susan Makes a Mistake.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Places in Jane Shaw: Limpopo River

And here is the Limpopo River, which they reach not long after leaving the Parfuri. It certainly is more impressive.

Places in Jane Shaw: Pafuri

In Chapter 4 of Nothing Happened After All, which is mostly set in South Africa, Dizzy and Alison are delighted when they are told that they will be having lunch on the banks of the Limpopo River. They even quote Kipling's description: "the grey-green greasy Limpopo". However, when they get to the river, Alison is surprised that it is "dark brown and muddy". Rob informs them that they have changed course and that the river they are romancing about is actually the Pafuri. The girls are incensed that they have wasted the precious film in their cameras on this river. But Rob and Tommy promise them a brief glimpse of the Limpopo soon and a better one when they are on the way to Southern Rhodesia.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fivepenny Mystery Chapter 1

The mysterious man in Johannesburg at the beginning of Fivepenny Mystery who turns out to be the evil Ainros.

Quote of the Day

Miss Barclay went leaping down the beach to examine the depth of water, but came back disconsolate. "We could never get Celia round now, disabled as she is - I doubt if any of us could do it, with the waves crashing in like that. Anyway, it's too dangerous to try - there is nothing else for it - we'll just have to climb up beyond high-water mark and wait for the tide to do down. Thank goodness the cliff doesn't become sheer till above high-water mark."

From THE MOOCHERS ABROAD, Chapter 2, The Picnic. Despite the title, the characters spend a considerable amount of time actually getting out of Cornwall. First they are trapped at the school in quarantine for the mumps. Then in this chapter, Celia has sprained her ankle and the girls and Miss Barclay are cut off by the tide and have to spend several hours on the cliff waiting for the tide to go out. It is only in Chapter 5 that they finally leave England. This is in contrast with Jane Shaw's other holiday stories, which either begin already in the foreign country (Breton Adventure, Susan Interferes, Fivepenny Mystery) or see the characters in the new country fairly quickly (Crooks Tour, Twopence Coloured, Susan's Kind Heart).

Jane Shaw Quiz 84

In Crooks Tour, what is Ricky's real name?

The answer to Quiz 83: In Nothing Happened After All, Dizzy and Alison are disappointed to learn that South Africa has no jungle.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fivepenny Mystery illustration

While I was reading Fivepenny Mystery last year, I published this illustration with comments, which you can read here. But the scan I posted was pretty shabby and the paper was clearly yellowing. Now we have a cleaned up version. This is definitely my favourite scene from all of the Penny books. It is very cleverly written and, as I've said before, it's my opinion that Jane Shaw achieved the highest level of her writing with this book. Fivepenny Mystery was published by Nelson in 1958, when the author was at the pinnacle of her career. It was at this time that she published Susan at School, Susan's School Play and Susan and the Home-made Bomb. 1958 was definitely a very good year.

Jane Shaw Quiz 83

What aspect of South Africa disappoints Dizzy and Alison at the beginning of Nothing Happened After All?

The answer to Quiz 82: At their school, Ricky, Julie and Fay are library monitors.

Quote of the Day

"There, there, don't cry little cabbage," Sara said, and ran through all the French endearments she could think of, followed by literal translations of English ones, each new effort being greeted by a lustier bellow than the one before. Sara was being reluctantly forced to the conclusion that the infant had taken a dislike to her on sight when she saw a gleam of hope. Scrabbling in her bag she brought out a piece of Toblerone, rather tattered as to its wrappings but still recognizable. The crying stopped as suddenly as if a tap had been turned off.

From BRETON ADVENTURE, Chapter 13, Sara Does Some Rescue Work.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Places in Jane Shaw: Arran

This is a view of a place on Arran called Tormusk. Jane Shaw and her husband retired to a very small village  in this region called Balmichael. I was there last year on a day like the one in the picture: clear blue sky, warm sun and beautiful scenery. This photo was taken by David G. Campbell.

Jane Shaw Quiz 82

What extra duty do Ricky, Julie and Fay do at their school in Glasgow?

The answer to Quiz 81: Penny names her dachshund puppy Candy.

Quote of the Day

We went to Bush-pig's home for lunch that day, and had what is called a braaivleis. We would have called it a barbecue. The Logans' beautiful house led on to a beautiful garden with a tennis court and a swimming-pool in the far distance. Many servants in spotless white suits flitted about and perhaps twenty people had this enormous lunch, steak and chops and sausages cooked on an open fire and salads of all kinds and puddings to finish with made of pineapples and grenadillas.

From VENTURE TO SOUTH AFRICA, Chapter 1, The Chance of a Lifetime.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fourpenny Fair illustration

An illustration from The Fair, Chapter 13 of Fourpenny Fair. Penny and Sid hang the notice they have made advertising the play that the orphans will perform.

Jane Shaw Quiz 81

What name does Penny give to her dachshund puppy?

The answer to Quiz 80: At St. Ronan's, Susan and Midge are Dragons, meaning that their house is St. George's.

Quote of the Day

The rather ancient dinghy which belonged to the school was to be done up to look like a Roman galley and come sailing across the lake from behind the little island. It would mean a lot of work, Miss Merriman warned them, getting the Roman galley ready; there would be prows to make a sail. But far from grumbling about the amount of work involved, everybody was wildly enthusiastic. Messing about with paint was just the kind of thing they liked.

From NEW HOUSE AT NORTHMEAD, Chapter 5, Startling News.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Willow Green Mystery illustration

A scene from Chapter 3, when David mistakes an elderly man in a wheelchair for Mr. Starky and loses control of the wheelchair, which procedes to hurtle down a hill. Much to everyone's surprise, the man enjoys the little jaunt!

Jane Shaw Quiz 80

Which house are Susan and Midge in at St. Ronan's?

The answer to Quiz 79: "Nice woman, little Mrs. Gascoigne," is a phrase frequently used by Uncle Charles whenever he refers to Selina Gascoigne.

Quote of the Day

"Oh, help," said Jennifer, "what is it this time? Some footling little thing you've got, and you expect us to get all worked up about it. You two are always getting excited about nothing. And do sit up, Mike - you look awful leaning over the table like that."

From VENTURE TO SOUTH AFRICA, Chapter 3, Cheering Up Jennifer. We can see that Jennifer really needs cheering up. She's definitely Jane Shaw's grouchiest character.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Penny and Sid

An illustration from Chapter 11 of Crooked Sixpence. Penny returns his lost photo to a grateful Sid.

Jane Shaw Quiz 79

Whose (very much mistaken) catchphrase is "Nice woman, little Mrs. Gascoigne"?

The answer to Quiz 78: Charlotte goes to study art in Perugia

Quote of the Day

"I don't see how we dare risk a meeting," said Caroline, "in case they find out where the book is. We've just got to get to Rh├Ândorf first."
"Gosh, yes!" said Sara, her impish little face screwed up in an expression of grim determination. "Step on the gas, John, and race them to it."


Sunday, September 2, 2012


This is Nicky from the short story Family Trouble. She is probably the most mature and realistic of Jane Shaw's teenage characters.

Jane Shaw Quiz 78

To which Italian city does Charlotte go to study art?

The answer to Quiz 77: Susan and her parents live at Owl Cottage, the house that Mr. and Mrs. Lyle rent when they return from Africa.

Quote of the Day

Ricky and Julie were now hopping about on the pavement like a couple of demented fleas. "We must do something! We must stop them! Caught in the act! What shall we do? How can we stop them?" Ricky was muttering, dithering as usual.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Margery or Marjorie?

The characters' names are a very important aspect of Jane Shaw's stories and were all given very careful consideration; so much so that she would write stories and leave spaces where the names should be, only filling them in later on after the characters had been well established and a suitable name could be given to them. Even before you meet them, the names Susan, Charlotte and Midge tell you a great deal about them. The same is doubly true for the Gascoignes. So it's a bit surprising that Midge's real name varies a little. In most of the books, when she gives her real name it is spelled Margery, but in Susan Rushes In and A Job for Susan the spelling is Marjorie. A bit unusual for an author who took such care over her characters' names.