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eBook formatHardcover, (torrent)En
PublisherMacMillan Children's Books
File size5.6 Mb
Release date 02.10.1994
Book rating4.56 (7 votes)
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Anthony Malcolm 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.

At the end of the war they returned to London where he 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, particularly in his famous Jennings series of novels.

Following the death of his 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 and he was later to become an active member of CND. Unfortunately at university he did not take a degree after failing Latin.

By then the couple had two children and, with a young family to support, he found himself teaching in Suffolk and Northamptonshire, which again provided further experiences for his later work. During the Second World War, he 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 character Jennings, who was based on an old school chum of his, Diarmid Jennings. Diarmid was a prep schoolboy boarding at Linbury Court Preparatory School, where the headmaster was Mr Pemberton-Oakes.

After World War II, he 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. 'Jennings Learns the Ropes', the first of his radio plays, was broadcast on 16 October 1948. And then in 1950, the first of 26 Jennings novels, 'Jennings Goes to School' was published.

'Jennings Follows a Clue' appeared in 1951 and then Jennings novels were published regularly through to 1977 before he reappeared in the 1990s with three books that ended with 'That's Jennings' in 1994. The books were as well known and as popular as Frank Richards' Billy Bunter books in their day and 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 and Jennings is called "Stompa". And in France Jennings was, rather oddly, known as Bennett!

He also wrote five novels featuring a north London Grammar School boy, Rex Milligan, one other novel, 'A Funny Thing Happened: The First [and only] Adventure of the Blighs' (1953), wrote a collection of short stories, 'Stories for Boys' (1957), his autobiography, 'While I Remember' (1999) and edited an anthology, 'In and Out of School' (1958).

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

He was awarded the OBE in 2003.

He died on 28 June 2004 after a spell of ill health with his second wife Eileen and three children, two from his first marriage, surviving him.

Gerry Wolstenholme
September 2010

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