2022 marks the 40th anniversary of writer Malcolm Saville’s death and Elaine Luke gave a very engaging talk about his life and works at St Mary’s Centre.
His books once rivalled Enid Blyton’s in their popularity but now he is not as widely known. He lived in Winchelsea for part of his life and loved the area of Rye and the marshes. Elaine told us that she has enjoyed and admired his books and that she is saddened that his fame has diminished over time. He instilled in countless children the lifelong love of reading and many of them, now adults, were sitting in the room listening. It was not surprising that the audience was warm and responsive, and many of the extracts that Elaine read clearly took them back to their childhood.
He was the author of over ninety books which were popular not only in Britain, but in mainland Europe and Australia, Canada and USA. Malcolm is probably best known to most readers as the author of the Lone Pine series: twenty books which he set in a variety of locations. His first book Mystery at Witchend was broadcast as a serial on BBC Radio children’s hour. Within three years he had six books published, one of which was made into a film in 1946 starring a thirteen-year-old Petula Clark.
His Coronation Gift Book, written to celebrate the late Queen’s coronation, is a vivid description of the history, tradition and meaning of that ceremony. He also wrote a revised story of the history of Winchelsea Church.
He published a Portrait of Rye in 1976, which he describes as the consummation of a long love affair. As Elaine observed: “It certainly reads like a love letter to the town and surrounding villages which he loved so much.”
Malcolm Saville’s daughter-in-law, who lives in Rye, Philippa Saville, was in the audience and has said that she will be willing to give an interview in the near future. We may well hear some interesting anecdotes.
There is a Malcolm Saville Society which was formed in 1994 after a group of enthusiasts met to visit Long Mynd, the setting for three of the Lone Pine books.
Image Credits: Kt bruce , Haydon Luke .