Beaconsfield to honour former resident Uttley with plaque following local society campaign

Beaconsfield to honour former resident Uttley with plaque following local society campaign

Buckinghamshire town Beaconsfield will next month unveil a plaque dedicated to children’s author and former resident Alison Uttley.

Kari Dorme of The Beaconsfield Society committee, who campaigned for the plaque to be installed, said she felt "very strongly" that Uttley, whose children’s books include A Traveller in Time, The Country Child and the Little Grey Rabbit series, had been forgotten by the town.

Uttley moved to Beaconsfield in 1938 when she was 54, 11 years after the first Little Grey Rabbit title, The Squirrel, the Hare and the Little Grey Rabbit, was published by Heinemann. Her house, Thackers, is still standing and she is buried in the grounds of Penn’s Holy Trinity CofE Church, where her headstone bears the epitaph "Spinner of Tales".

Dorme said she wanted to celebrate Uttley partly because The Beaconsfield Society had unveiled a plaque dedicated to another local children’s author, Enid Blyton, in 2013.

Uttley didn’t like Blyton, calling her a "vulgar, curled woman", but both authors became millionaires from their books in their lifetimes, said Dorme. "They were great rivals. They lived in Beaconsfield at the same time (1938 onwards). Enid Blyton died in 1968 and Alison, who was older, outlived her and died in 1976."

The plaque is being paid for by The Beaconsfield Society and will be unveiled in the Beaconsfield Town Council garden, near Enid Blyton’s plaque, on Uttley’s birthday: 17th December.

Uttley has sold 19,152 books through Nielsen BookScan since records began in 1998, worth £124,004 in value terms. Several of her books are still in print: A Traveller in Time is available from Puffin (the 2007 edition has sold 8,353 copies to date through the TCM), and Templar publishes the Little Grey Rabbit series.