Elfrida Vipont

I just (30 minutes ago) had a very nice find at a library booksale--a lovely copy of The Pavilion, by Elfida Vipont, for fifty cents. Vipont is best know for The Elephant and the Bad Baby (if you've never read it to your small children, do):

but she also wrote excellent family/school stories, published in the late 1940s/1950s. The Lark in the Morn and Lark on the Wing tell the story of Kit Haverard, a motherless Quaker girl determined to become a singer (Lark in the Morn is mainly about young Kit at boarding school; Lark on the Wing is about Kit's training as a singer, and growing up, and a little romance).

These were in most US library systems until fairly recently (they were published in American editions in 1970--)--if your library still has them, check them out now! They are great (I am not the only who thinks so. Lark on the Wing won the Carnegie Medal). Because they were reprinted both in England and here, and were in many libraries, it's possible to find copies at reasonable prices.

There are three other books about Kit's family--The Pavilion, Spring of the Year, and Flowering Spring. The first is about the efforts of various Haverard cousins to save a old building that's part of their family's history, the other two are about Kit's niece, who hopes to be an actress (these two books are set in the most lovely English village imaginable). I just checked to see what The Pavilion is going for (to see if I can quit my day job; I can't). There are still some affordable copies. However, Flowering Spring and Spring of the Year are very rare, so if you see one in any condition selling cheaply, grab it.

Vipont also wrote about another family, in The Family at Dowbiggins and More About Dowbiggins (aka A Win for Henry Connors). These have almost a Noel Streatfeildian feel to them, but also quite a bit of gardening, which I like. They are also hardish to fine for reasonable prices. She wrote a few other fictional books, but they are disappointing, so I shall say no more.

It can be rather frustrating collecting English books here in the states--I hear many stories from friends in England and South Africa of the masses of wonderful books they find at car book sales and charity shops. So when I find a book like I did today, it is a very nice thing indeed. We go to England quite often, as my husband's family is there, but somehow never seem to find the right car book sales. However, my boys are saving up to go to Egypt (only a few thousand more dollars to go); I will be travelling with them as their chaperon, and since I read about the Cairo used book market, I feel much more enthusiastic. There were, I hope, many British ex pats who had large collections of girls' books which are now for sale and that no one else is buying.

I would also very much like to go to the British Virgin Islands, and other, more obscure, Outposts of Empire. A girl can dream...


  1. The Lark in the Morn and the Lark on the Wing are two of my all time favorites. So glad to see you enjoyed them too. They are also notable in Vipont's ability to include music and religion so naturally into the story.

  2. I have loved those books for so many years. They always make me feel a better person for having read them. The books of Elizabeth Goudge make me feel the same way. I just unearthed my copy of the Lark on the Wing I snapped up once somewhere after having read it years before and loved it. Now I hope I hope to find the Lark in the Morn - somewhere in this house. Then I can loan them to my 13 year old granddaughter and hope she will love them too.


  3. Me too viz Goudge! You might not know that Spring of the Year, the third book in Vipont's series, has just been republished by Girls Gone By--http://www.ggbp.co.uk/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=2193&category_id=40&vmcchk=1&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1

    Not as lovely as the first two, but good none the less!


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