One heroine has led to another this week and it has been my trawl through the children's books that has revealed so many of mine.
When Jessica was asking for suggestions for her book I couldn't think of anything to offer except "What's the betting someone suggests Fanny Price?" at the exact moment that Julie was posting her message saying "What about Fanny Price?", one of those telepathic blogendipity moments.
Then looking at my childhood reading you see just how many strong and fiesty girls there were in there.Katy, Anne(with an 'e') and Pippi for a start.
But I'm wondering how many of you have even heard of Pixie O'Shaughnessy by Mrs George De Horne Vaizey?
I'd be delighted because I've yet to meet ANYONE who has.
Another Going Home Time book, this time Miss Bradbrook's class and I clearly recall her telling us that her father had been involved in the publication of some of the first ever paperback books and Pixie O'Shaugnessy had been one of them.Now Miss Bradbrook, with her hair piled up in a bun at least a foot high seemed as old as Methuselah so heaven knows how old her father must have been, or when the edition she read from had been published.
But Pixie made a deep and very lasting impression.I never forgot the name and spent years and years knowing that one day I'd stumble across the book somewhere. Eventually I did find this hardback edition and there she was the "ugliest child in Galway" and all the more adored for it.There is a true Irish lilt to Pixie's spoken language that Miss Bradbrook did to perfection.
Sent to boarding school in Surbiton where she quickly became "the joy and terror of the school" Pixie was never short of mischief or in want of a good invention.Memorable to read again of her lassooing demonstration on the staircase which of course went wrong many times over before it finally went right, but unfortunately half garrotting an unsuspecting Mademoiselle in the process,
"What you mean playing your treeks on me? I will not 'ave it...How dare you throw your strings about to catch me as I come upstairs! Impertinent! Disobedient!...you 'ang me by the neck and you call it a joke!"
such things must have appealed endlessly to my childhood sensibilities.
Now of course the internet has revealed that I'm not alone,there is someone else who knew and loved the book too, and recounted this lovely story for the BBC People's War site.
Then it's but a hop and a skip to the online Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ,accessible to anyone with a library ticket number, and there I discover all I want to know about Jessie Vaizey (1856-1917) and that she wrote Pixie O'Shaughnessy in 1902. Good to know that girls had some books like this to read as well as the stirringly strident Empire building stuff.
Make my day, please someone say "oh yes I loved Pixie too".