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Anthony Buckeridge

Anthony Malcolm Buckeridge OBE (20 June 1912 – 28 June 2004) was an English author, best known for his Jennings and Rex Milligan series of children's books. He also wrote the 1953 children's book A Funny Thing Happened which was serialised more than once on Children's Hour.

He was awarded the OBE in 2003.

Contents

Personal life

Buckeridge was born in London but following the death of his banker father in the First World War he moved with his mother to Ross-on-Wye to live with his grandparents. Following the end of the war they returned to London where the young Buckeridge developed a taste for theatre and writing. A scholarship from the Bank Clerks' Orphanage fund permitted his mother to send him to Seaford College boarding school in Sussex. His experiences as a schoolboy there were instrumental in his later work.

Following the death of Buckeridge's grandfather, the family moved to Welwyn Garden City where his mother worked in promoting the new suburban utopia to Londoners. In 1930 Buckeridge began work at his late father's bank but soon tired of it. Instead he took to acting including an uncredited part in Anthony Asquith's 1931 film Tell England.

After marrying his first wife, Sylvia Brown, he enrolled at University College London where he involved himself in Socialist and anti-war groups (he later became an active member of CND) but did not take a degree after failing Latin. With a young family to support, Buckeridge found himself teaching in Suffolk and Northamptonshire which provided further experiences to inform his later work. During the Second World War, Buckeridge was called up as a fireman and wrote several plays for the stage before returning to teaching in Ramsgate.

He used to tell his pupils stories about the fictional Jennings (based however on an old schoolfellow Diarmid Jennings), a prep schoolboy boarding at Linbury Court Preparatory School, headmaster Mr Pemberton-Oakes.

In 1962 he met his second wife, Eileen Selby. They settled near Lewes where Buckeridge continued to write and also appeared in small (non-singing) roles at Glyndebourne.

He was awarded the OBE in 2003.

Buckeridge died on 28 June 2004 after a spell of ill health. He is survived by his second wife Eileen and three children, two from his first marriage.

Works

After World War II, Buckeridge wrote a series of radio plays for the BBC's Children's Hour chronicling the exploits of Jennings and his rather more staid friend, Darbishire; the first, Jennings Learns the Ropes, was first broadcast on 16 October 1948. In 1950, the first of more than twenty novels, Jennings goes to School, appeared. The tales make liberal use of Buckeridge's inventive schoolboy slang ("fossilised fish hooks!", "crystallised cheesecakes!", and others). These books, as well known as Frank Richards' Billy Bunter books in their day, were translated into a number of other languages. The stories of middle class English schoolboys were especially popular in Norway where several were filmed. The Norwegian books and films were rewritten completely for a Norwegian setting with Norwegian names; Jennings is called "Stompa" in the Norwegian books.

Reception

Buckeridge made no small contribution to postwar British humour, a fact acknowledged by such comedians as Stephen Fry. The deftly worded farce and delightful understatement of his narratives has been compared to the work of P. G. Wodehouse, Ben Hecht and Ben Travers.

Jennings novels

The "Jennings" series is a collection of humorous novels of children's literature. There are 25 in total. The first, Jennings Goes to School' (ISBN 0-333-65523-0), appeared in 1950 and new titles were published regularly until the mid-1970s (the last for fourteen years was Jennings at Large in 1977, the only book to feature Jennings during the school holidays), with two more in the 1990s (Jennings Again in 1991 and That's Jennings in 1994). When published in France the name of "Jennings" was changed to Bennett while in Norway he is known as Stompa.

The novels usually followed a format of three major subplots per 16-chapter novel. This practice in turn facilitated a popular BBC radio version on Children's Hour.

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Characters

The stories are all set in a boarding school. The main characters are the pupils of the school. J C T Jennings is the main character. He is the son of a businessman whose home is at Haywards Heath in the stockbroker belt. He is good-natured and well-meaning, but his tendency to act on impulse results in him getting in to trouble frequently. His best friend is C E J (Charles Edwin Jeremy) Darbishire, a mild-mannered and short-sighted son of a clergyman, the Reverend Percival Darbishire, from whom he has inherited a habit of sententiously citing proverbs. Inherently more cautious than Jennings, he usually finds himself drawn into situations in which he would rather not be involved.

Venables, Atkinson, Temple, Bromwich (Major) are classmates of Jennings in form 3 and fellow boarders in dormitory 4. Temple's nickname was Bod, from a tortuous schoolboy logic involving his initials, CAT (Charles A Temple), becoming Dog, then Dogsbody, and finally Bod. Pettigrew, Marshall are day pupils whose privileges Jennings "borrows" in order to assist him in bending school rules. While Binns Minor, Blotwell are shrill-voiced first-formers who are treated with condescension appropriate to their years by Jennings and his contemporaries.

The teaching staff include Mr L P (Lancelot Phineas) Wilkins, Jennings's form master. "Old Wilkie" is a man of little patience and a volcanic temperament, though very occasionally redeemed by a heart of gold. Mr Michael Carter is Jennings' housemaster, a man of great imperturbability and patience, with a phenomenal ability to detect dissembling and violations of school rules. This character was said by Buckeridge to be based on himself. Mr M W B (Martin Winthrop Barlow) Pemberton-Oakes M.A.(Oxon.) is the headmaster; "The Archbeako" is a classical scholar with a capacity to command immediate discipline. Mr Hind is the Music master; mild of manner, trailing clouds of smoke from his cherrywood pipe - also teaches art to Form I. Mr Topliss teaches shooting once a week in a shooting range behind the gymnasium. Matron is the school matron; she is sympathetic and understanding, but with a keen ability to spot malingerers.

Miss Angela Birkenshaw is Jennings's absent-minded Aunt Angela.

Minor recurring characters:

  • Hawkins (Old Nightie) — the night watchman.
  • Robinson (Old Pyjams) — the oddjob man. His nickname is obviously a pun on the nightwatchman's nickname of Old Nightie.
  • Lieutenant General Sir Melville Merridew DSO MC Bart — retired general, the school's most distinguished alumnus, and frequent bestower of half-holidays.
  • Miss Thorpe — tireless voluntary charitable worker within the Linbury community.
  • PC Honeyball — Linbury's village policeman.
  • Farmer Arrowsmith — owner of a farm adjoining the school grounds.
  • Mrs Lumley - owner of a small tearoom in Linbury village. She is renowned as a baker of excellent cakes and doughnuts.
  • Dr Basil Featherstonehaugh Hipkin — an absent-minded zoologist who meets Jennings and Darbishire when they accidentally push him into the river while they are on an illicit boating expedition.
  • George the Third - matron's cat, a large ginger tom.

List of novels

  1. Jennings Goes to School 1950 The first novel. This has been recorded by Stephen Fry, for BBC7 as five 15 minute readings. It is available as an MP3 download.
  2. Jennings Follows a Clue 1951
  3. Jennings' Little Hut 1951
  4. Jennings and Darbishire 1952
  5. Jennings' Diary 1953
  6. According to Jennings 1954
  7. Our Friend Jennings 1955
  8. Thanks to Jennings 1957
  9. Take Jennings, for Instance 1958
  10. Jennings, as Usual 1959
  11. The Trouble With Jennings 1960
  12. Just Like Jennings 1961
  13. Leave it to Jennings 1963
  14. Jennings, Of Course! 1964
  15. Especially Jennings! 1965
  16. A Bookfull of Jennings 1966
  17. Jennings Abounding 1967 (also titled 'Jennings Unlimited')
  18. Jennings in Particular 1968
  19. Trust Jennings! 1969
  20. The Jennings Report 1970
  21. Typically Jennings! 1971
  22. Speaking of Jennings! 1973
  23. Jennings at Large 1977
  24. Jennings Again! 1991
  25. That's Jennings 1994

Rex Milligan

Rex Milligan is a fictional character created by children's author Anthony Buckeridge, famed for his Jennings series of books.

Rex is the eponymous schoolboy hero of a series of five books set in the mid twentieth century. The school that he attends is a grammar school in north London. The stories are presented in first person narrative, in contrast to the Jennings series. The final book is a compilation of 16 stories first published in the Eagle comic.

Characters

  • J.I.G. (Jigger) Johnson. level-headed, animal loving best friend of Rex.
  • 'Alfie' Cutforth (Alfie, short for alphabet, because his initials are A.B.C). Loud-mouthed know-all.
  • J.O. Stag (Staggers). Inventor of ambitious, but ultimately unworkable gadgets.
  • Boko Phipps.
  • Mr. Birkinshaw, aka 'Old Birkie', or 'The Birk'. Teacher short of temper, much in the mould of Mr. Wilkins from Jennings, who teaches Maths.
  • Mr. Frisby, aka 'The Frizzer', a teacher mild in manner who teaches French.
  • Spikey Andrews, football captain for Sheldrake's deadly rival school, "the Secondary Tech".
  • Bubblegum Tucker, another pupil at the Secondary Tech.
  • Mr Howard, aka 'Old Snorker', teacher at the Secondary Tech.

List of books

  • Rex Milligan's Busy Term
  • Rex Milligan Raises the Roof
  • Rex Milligan Holds Forth
  • Rex Milligan Reporting
  • Introducing Rex Milligan

References

Notes

Bibliography

  • Anthony Buckeridge, While I Remember, ISBN 0952148218.

External links


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