AUTHOR OF THE MONTH -  MARGERY SHARP

 

British author Margery Sharp (1905-1991) had a long and successful career as a writer of both adult and children’s fiction, along with several plays.  She is perhaps best known for her children’s books, particularly the series which began with The Rescuers (1959), the delightful tales of a family of smart and daring mice which was adapted into an animated movie by Walt Disney.  Margery Sharp wrote additional outstanding children’s books—fourteen in all. 

 

In her book Children’s Writers, Margaret Greaves commented: “Only a child who reads well can fully enjoy these books, for their subtlest appeal is that of language itself, a delight in words and the rhythm of words for their own sake.  These are books for the connoisseur, and blessedly have no design at all upon the reader except that of entertainment.” 

 

But her novels for adults (26 of them) are magical as well, for Margery seemed to understand the nuances of the nature of mankind and was able to create very honest and human characters in her books.  Her stories also have intelligent subtle humor and irony woven throughout. 

 

One of my favorites is The Flowering Thorn (1932), the story of a fashionable young woman who has everything she wants (materially) and is living the “good life” in a London apartment, flitting from party to party and hanging out with her oh-so-gorgeous friends.   Because of a brief lull in her enjoyment of these activities, and a set of circumstances which presents itself to her at a vulnerable moment, she impulsively decides to adopt a young boy whose mother has just died. 

 

This sets off a chain of events, starting with the loss of her exclusive apartment (they don’t accept children), eventually leading to her taking a small cottage in the country--all of this to the utter shock and disbelief of her friends and family.  Her snooty friends promise to visit her there (which happens only once, with rather disastrous results) and she struggles both inwardly and outwardly over her impetuous and life-altering decision and new circumstances.  She really knows nothing about children or life in the country.  She is aware of the stigma of being a single woman with a child, a child who many logically assume is her own issue and an illegitimate one at that.  In the end, she comes to learn a great deal about life and friendship.  The book also passes along some surprising and shrewd insights on what really is important in raising a well-adjusted child. 

 

I haven’t read all of Margery’s books, but I have never read one I haven’t liked!  The Foolish Gentlewoman was both humorous and wise; and I thoroughly enjoyed Britannia Mews.  Most of these books are out of print but still obtainable at reasonable prices and can be located without too much difficulty.  A few of the early ones are harder to find, and her first and exceptionally well written novel Rhododendron Pie is rare indeed.

 

Margery’s “Rescuer” books for children are listed below:

 

The Rescuers

Miss Bianca

The Turret

Miss Bianca in the Salt Mines

Miss Bianca in the Orient

Miss Bianca in the Antarctic

Bernard into Battle

Bernard the Brave

Miss Bianca and the Bridesmaid

 

Additional children’s books are:

 

Lost at the Fair

The Magical Cockatoo

Melisande

The Children Next Door

 

Adult Fiction:

 

Rhododendron Pie (1930)  - First novel, extremely rare

Fanfare for Tin Trumpets (1932)

The Nymph and the Nobleman (1932)

The Flowering Thorn (1934)

Sophy Cassmajor (1934)

Four Gardens (1935)

The Nutmeg Tree (1937)

Harlequin House (1939)

The Stone of Chastity (1940)

Three Companion Pieces (1941)

Cluny Brown (1944)

Britannia Mews (1946)

The Foolish Gentlewoman (1948)

Lise Lillywhite (1951)

The Gipsy in the Parlour (1954)

The Eye of Love (1957)

Something Light (1960)

Martha in Paris (1962)

Martha, Eric and George (1964)

The Sun in Scorpio (1965)

In Pious Memory (1967)

Rosa (1970)

The Innocents (1972)

The Lost Chapel Picnic and Other Stories (1973)

The Faithful Servants (1975)

Summer Visits (1977)

 

Plays:

 

Meeting at Night (produced in London, 1934)

Lady in Waiting (produced in New York, 1940; London, 1941)

The Foolish Gentlewoman  (produced in London, 1949, 1950)

The Birdcage Room (Play for television, 1954)

 

Old Scrolls Book Shop stocks books by Margery Sharp whenever we can locate them in clean, solid condition and generally have at least two or three available in collectible condition.