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The Twelve and the Genii  
The Twelve and the Genii cover.jpg
First edition, 1962
Author Pauline Clarke
Illustrator Cecil Leslie
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Fantasy novel
Publisher Faber and Faber
Publication date 1962
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 185pp

The Twelve and the Genii is a children's fantasy novel by Pauline Clarke, published in 1962. It was awarded the Carnegie Medal and the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis. Its title in the U.S. is The Return of the Twelves. It concerns twelve toy wooden soldiers that at one time belonged to Branwell Brontë and his sisters (the original "Genii" of the title).[1]


Plot summary

Max, an eight-year-old boy whose family has just moved to a farmhouse in Yorkshire, discovers some old toy soldiers in the attic. He is surprised and delighted to find that they can come to life. The soldiers, known as the Twelves, or the Young Men, all have different personalities; they are brave, intelligent and very independent, not to mention argumentative. They adopt Max as one of their Genii, or protectors, and he begins to spend most of his time watching and thinking about them. He learns from the local parson that they once belonged to the Brontës, who wrote stories about their adventures. When his sister Jane discovers the secret, she becomes as keen on the soldiers as he is.

Seneca D. Brewer, an American professor, causes a stir in the neighborhood by writing to the local paper about the Brontës' wooden soldiers and offering £5,000 (at the time a small fortune) to anyone who finds them. Max's brother Philip believes Max's soldiers could well be the ones, and impulsively writes to the professor about them — only to deeply regret his act when he too discovers the truth.

The soldiers learn that they are in danger of being taken to America and disappear in the night. The children have some anxious moments before they discover that the soldiers have decided to return to their original home in Haworth, now a museum dedicated to the Brontës. Their march across the countryside is fraught with perils, but with the protection of the Genii they eventually reach safe haven.


  • Max Morley, an 8-year-old boy
  • Jane Morley, his 11-year-old sister
  • Philip Morley, his 14-year-old brother
  • Mr. and Mrs. Morley, their parents
  • Mrs. Hodgson, Mrs. Morley's help in the house
  • Bill, Mr. Morley's help on the farm
  • Mr. Howson, a parson and Brontë fan
  • Christopher Howson, his son
  • Seneca D. Brewer, an American professor
  • Mr. Kettlewell, a local farmer
  • A reporter from the local paper

Wooden soldiers

  • Butter Crashey, the Patriarch of the Twelves
  • Stumps, formerly Frederick Guelph, Duke of York (Max's protégé)
  • Alexander Sneaky, formerly Buonaparte (Branwell's protégé)
  • The Duke of Wellington (Charlotte's protégé)
  • Parry (Emily's protégé)
  • Ross (Anne's protégé)
  • Gravey (Jane's protégé)
  • Cheeky, the surgeon
  • Bravey
  • Crackey
  • Monkey
  • Tracky


  • Brutus, the Morleys' cat
  • Rover, Mr. Kettlewell's dog
  • A water rat

Allusions to other works

Branwell Brontë's The History of the Young Men is the source for the adventures the Patriarch recounts to Max. Mr. Howson mentions the book, and Mrs. Morley finds a copy which she intends to read to Max. This is the book which convinces Philip of the identity of the soldiers. Jane has just finished reading Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, which she loves, and she christens the handsome Mr. Howson "Mr. Rochester" after the hero.

See also

  • Anne Brontë for an account of the soldiers and the Brontës


External links

Preceded by
A Stranger at Green Knowe
Carnegie Medal recipient
Succeeded by
Time of Trial


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