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Alice Jane Uttley (1884-1976) was born Alice Taylor at Castle Top Farm, near Cromford, Derbyshire, and was educated at the Lea School in Holloway and the Lady Manners School in Bakewell, where she developed a love for science which culminated in a scholarship to Manchester University to read physics. In 1906 she became only the second woman to graduate with honours in Physics at the university. Whilst an undergraduate, she lived in Ashburne House, which later became Ashburne Hall, and was the University of Manchester's first Hall of Residence for women.
Having trained as a teacher in Cambridge, she took up the post of Physics teacher at the Fulham Secondary School for Girls in 1908. In 1911, she married James Uttley, the brother of her old university friend, Gertrude Uttley, and by whom she had one son, John Corin Uttley (1914-1978). James Uttley's mental health was permanently impaired by his service in the first World War, and he took his own life in 1930, leaving Alison with the need to support herself and her son. This she did by becoming the author of a series of tales about animals, including Lttle Grey Rabbit, the little Red Fox, Sam Pig and Tim Rabbit. (As an author, she was known as Alison Uttley.) Her writing career blossomed, and she continued to write stories for children, whilst expanding her range by writing for older children and adults. Her `country' books, beginning with The Country Child and continuing with series of essays on country themes, such as Country Hoard, were extremely popular, due to her uncanny ability to remember the smallest details of her Derbyshire childhood and express them with beautiful poeticism.
She remained fascinated by dreams and fantasy, and this is shown most clearly in her book A Traveller in Time which blended dreams and historical fact, although she also wrote a factual work The Stuff of Dreams. Eventually settling in Beaconsfield, in a house named Thackers after the manor house in A Traveller in Time, Alison Uttley wrote over 100 books and was given an honourary Litt.D by Manchester University in 1970 in recognition of her literary achievements. She died in hospital on 7th May 1976.
Biography courtesy of the University of Manchester.
Click here to visit the website of the Alison Uttley Society, full of fascinating information and archive material about this author.
Hare is the star of the show as he leads a skating party out onto the snow. Despite complaining of bumps and bruises he ends up having a very good time indeed and the three friends return home triumphant. But, there is a shock in store for them when they return as someone has jumped right into Hare’s nice comfy bed! Hare thinks of a very good way to make the visitor remember not to do such a dreadful thing again!
Packed full of Christmassy warmth, this busy story about Little Grey Rabbit and her friends Hare and Squirrel is a welcome reissue of a delightful classic. All three have fun sledging with their friends in the snow until Hare scares himself sledging in the moonlight with a dark stranger…Their friend Mouldy Warp creates a magical Christmas tree for all the birds and beast of the wood and even Rat does a very kind thing for Christmas.
April 2012 Book of the Month. A great story of courage and loyalty. The three friends have to show great bravery and stick together to survive the danger of a weasel who has come to live nearby. How the little community of animals overcome their fears and see off the outside has enough fear about it to be exciting while also reassuring at the end.
Hare is the boldest of the animals in these charming classic stories. Here, he bravely sets off from his home in the wood on an expedition to visit Toad. Toad lives on the other side of the valley. How Hare manages his great adventure and survives meeting a very charming gentleman in a red coat will happily entertain a new generation.
Little Fuzzypeg the Hedgehog is one of the sweetest characters in these classic stories. It is Fuzzypeg’s first birthday. Now he his old enough to go out on his own. But, will he be safe? Fuzzypeg’s first outing goes horribly wrong and the other animals have to do everything in their power to rescue him.
Classic stories with beautiful illustrations bring to life the gentle woodland world of Little Grey Rabbit and her friends. Little Grey Rabbit has lost her tail. She lent it to Owl for a door knocker and now he won’t give it back! How she and her friends set about retrieving it in the nicest possible way is a delight.
One of the first, and finest, of all time-slip stories that travels between the 16th century and pre-war 20th century Britain. It is alive with the sounds and the smells of both centuries making it an incredibly mysterious yet compelling read.' Click here to see Mrs Cockle's Cat by Philippa Pearce, another essential Jane Nissen read
Originally published in 1931, this is a fictionalized account of author Alison Uttley's childhood experiences at her family farm home in Castletop, near Cromford.
THE COUNTRY CHILD is a semi-autobiographical story about a girl growing up in the country. Alison Uttley has drawn on her own youth to produce memories so vivid and nostalgic that you can almost smell the honeysuckle and hear the owls calling at dusk. She writes about the small intense joys and sorrows of life on a small farm: the fun of haymaking, the sadness of favourite animals being slaughtered, and the close sweetness of Christmas celebrations in the farmhouse kitchen. Also in A Puffin Book: A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley
One fine bright day, Water Rat invites his friends to join him on his beloved little boat, the Saucy Nancy. He has planned a picturesque journey down the river and, afterwards, a sumptuous feast beneath the trees, with egg and cress sandwiches, marigold sponge and watermint jellies. But when some cackling ducks cause a commotion on the river, and Hare decides to man the boat, it looks like Water Rat's picnic mightn't be so perfect after all...
When Squirrel, Hare and Little Grey Rabbit come down with colds, their friends decide the only cure is a trip to the seaside. They pack a tent, a hamper and a bucket and spade and set off along the winding lanes to the sandy cove below the cliffs. It's not long before everyone is enjoying the bracing sea breeze and the rolling green tide. Water Rat and Hare swim in the shallows, Squirrel makes a cockleshell hat and dances near the waves. All of a sudden, mischievous seagulls descend; they steal Hare's red coat and Water Rat's frills! Will these naughty birds spoil the friends' special day out?
Down in the dell, behind a curtain of foxgloves, lives a family of crafty weasels. They steal from all the little animals as they walk by; Speckledy Hen's eggs, Moldy Warp's axe... One day, as Little Grey Rabbit bravely hurries past the weasels' haunt, they jump out and snatch her away. We've been waiting for you, the weasels say, we want somebody to bake and wash and clean. Now it is up to her woodland friends to save Little Grey Rabbit and finally teach those weasels a lesson!
During a terrible storm, the tree hollow where Wise Owl lives is battered and bashed beyond repair! His precious things are left scattered around the wood, damp and muddy from the downpour. Little Grey Rabbit and her friends decide to help Wise Owl find a new home. After a long day of searching, Little Grey Rabbit discovers another tree hollow. With a spruce and a tidy she's sure that Wise Owl will be right at home there, but will Wise Owl agree?
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