Wednesday, November 08, 2023

John Betjeman on Mystery at Witchend by Malcolm Saville

John Betjeman chose to survey children's books for his About Books column in the 16 December 1943 issue of the Daily Herald.

He wasn't enthusiastic about the standard of the new volumes on offer, but did find something to praise:
One called Mystery at Witchend, by Malcolm Saville (Newnes. 7s net), about three evacuee children who have a fine time in Salop catching German spies, stands out as rather better written than most. 
The success of books of this sort depends on how well they can be re-enacted in the back garden with one's friends. The last-named can.


Anonymous said...

Do you know why the price of the book was "seven shillings net"? Net of what? There wasn't VAT in those days, and there was no purchase tax on books, but covers and dustjackets of the era all say "Net". I wonder why.

Jonathan Calder said...

Have a look at the Wikipedia article on the Net Book Agreement. The answer may lie there.