Thursday, March 05, 2020

For World Book Day: Wings Over Witchend by Malcolm Saville


A quick tribute to my favourite writer as a child on World Book Day.

I once wrote of the appeal of Malcolm Saville's Lone Pine series, which began with Mystery at Witchend, for the Guardian:
Mystery at Witchend tells how the young members of the Lone Pine Club bring to justice a gang of saboteurs hoping, perhaps optimistically, to cripple the Allied war effort by blowing up a dam in the Shropshire hills. 
Though he wrote other series and set books in other places, it is the Lone Pine stories and their Shropshire landscapes for which Saville is best remembered. Quite why so many criminals used this backwater as their base for operations was never wholly clear, but one of the best things about his books was that they were set in "real places you can explore for yourself", as he always said in his forewords. 
Many readers did just that, discovering Bishop's Castle, the Long Mynd and the Stiperstones for themselves.
Wings Over Witchend, a tale of Christmas tree theft from the 'State Forest' on the Long Mynd, was probably my favourite of the series when I was young. That was probably because it gave a prominent role to the youngest characters.

I also thought I had lost the copy I had borrowed from Hemel Hempstead Library. As I daren't imagine the punishments inflicted upon children who lost library books, I kept quiet about it.

Luckily, I found it one day down the side of a piece of furniture and was even able to read it again before it was due to be returned.

The lovely wraparound jacket illustration is by Charles Wood and borrowed from the Malcolm Saville Centenary Website.

And there is a Malcolm Saville Society you can join.

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