Tuesday, August 24, 2010


IN HIS 2005 ESSAY The Four (Or Five...? Or Six...? Or Seven...?) Children's Books of Graham Greene, Brian Alderson claims that Graham Greene wrote or co-wrote at least three other children's books published by Dorothy Glover as either Dorothy Craigie or David Craigie: Summersalts Circus (1947), The Voyage of the Luna I (1948), and Dark Atlantis (1953). Foremost in his argument is the fact that the four books that appeared under Greene's name were written chiefly to provide a source of income for his lover Glover. If that was the motive, Alderson says, why would he stop at four books? (Of course, likewise, if his intention was to assist Glover financially, why wouldn't he put his name on any and all books he felt some responsibility for, as it was his name that guaranteed larger sales?) The rest of Alderson's argument is based on the scope and complexity of the writing in the books (they would have been impossible for a novice, he says) and for the circumstances around the contracts for the books (they seem similar to the contracts for the four Little... books for which Greene did claim authorship). If those arguments are persuasive (and I don't think they are), they are still speculation and we will never know for certain how much of a hand Greene had in Glover's other books. But while speculating, I was surprised that Alderson did not mention a fifth Little... book that appeared in 1953 (between the third and fourth definitely written by Greene) The Little Balloon.

AS WITH THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES, the little balloon is a long neglected and obsolete mode of transportation. In this case, he has been in a shed for the past fifty years, but it has been decided that the little balloon should be brought out for the fair at which he will "collect pennies in his basket for the children's Christmas party." He is repaired and repainted, and is so enticing that his basket is filled in no time.

That night, however, his anchored rope breaks and he floats away. He makes friends with birds and clouds, but eventually he ends up over the sea in a bad storm.

He survives to the next day when a man in an airplane retrieves him and then purchases him as a birthday gift for his son.

THE LANGUAGE IN THE LITTLE BALLOON does not sound like Greene. However, The Little Steamroller's plot is arguably as thin, and as it is clearly meant to be part of the series, it deserves to be mentioned.

Craigie went on to write and/or illustrate many other children's books. To see all of her artwork for The Voyage of the Luna I, visit my Flickr set here. To read an entire Dorothy Craigie picture book, you can view The Saucy Cockle on my Flickr here. And to read The Little Balloon and decide for yourself who wrote it, see my Flickr set here.

Greene and Glover's relationship did produce one last book, Victorian Detective Fiction: A Catalogue of the Collection Made by Dorothy Glover & Graham Greene Bibliographically Arranged by Eric Osborne and Introduced by John Carter. From Greene's preface:

Miss Glover and I had both been re-reading The Moonstone as the war drew to its close and both of us were struck with one passage in it, for both of us had always assumed that the author of The Moonstone, apart from Edgar Allan Poe, had been the originator of the detective story. So ignorant we were in those days! It was this sentence of Sergeant Cuff's, 'It's only in books that the officers of a detective force are superior to the weakness of making a mistake', which awoke both of us to the fact that the detective story had existed long before Wilkie Collins, and from that moment we decided to make our collection.

To read Greene's entire preface and the incredible endpapers, see my Flickr set here.

For more information on Graham Greene and his other children's books, see my posts:

The Little Train
The Little Red Fire Engine
The Little Horse Bus
The Little Steamroller

All images are copyrighted © and owned by their respective holders.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


GRAHAM GREENE'S fourth and final picture book (under his own name at least, more on that in a later post) was The Little Steamroller (1955). Here the crime has been elevated to international smuggling, an appropriate Graham Greene topic although a questionable one for what is nominally a Christmas story. Overall, this book feels thin and uninspired, which was Graham Greene's own feeling about the work as expressed in a 1959 letter to his publisher Max Reinhardt at The Bodley Head. Note that the theme of obsolescence from the previous two books is dropped here even though an actual steam-powered steamroller seems like it must have been archaic by the mid-1950s. However, true steamrollers were still in use into the mid-1960s. Why a steamroller is being used to clear snow instead of a snowplow remains a separate question.

"'WHERE WERE ALL YOU POLICEMEN the day the Little Steamroller broke up the Black Hand gang?'"

The little steamroller works at London Airport keeping the roadways in working order. He is manned by Bill Driver and the pair work all year round, their only holidays being "Christmas, Easter, Whitsun and August Bank Holiday (and it always rained on August Bank holiday)."

The Black Hand gang is an international smuggling organization that deals predominantly in precious jewels and metals. They are particularly effective because they employ a complex pictographic code for their communiques.

This particular Christmas Eve, the Black Hand's cleverest smuggler Mr. King is bringing a shipment of gold nuggets from Africa.

He has hidden the gold in fake toy blocks that he claims are Christmas gifts for his children.

At London Airport it has snowed all night causing serious flight delays. The little steamroller has rolled back and forth back and forth clearing the snow. Despite this work, he wakes up at five in the morning Christmas Eve with a sense that something is amiss. He must be early to the airport today.

It is just then that Mr. King's plane arrives at London Airport twelve hours late. He pushes his way to customs.

He sails through without any trouble. He's out of the airport and almost into a car when the wind snatches a piece of paper from his hand and blows it up against the little steamroller.

The little steamroller recognizes that the paper contains a secret code. He tries to summon the authorities, but there is no time, so he smashes into the smuggler's car.

When the police arrive, the criminal is on the ground, ready to be apprehended. The little steamroller is awarded the Queen's Police Medal for his bravery.

AS WITH GRAHAM GREENE'S OTHER CHILDREN'S BOOKS, The Little Steamroller re-illustrated by the great Edward Ardizzone in the early 1970s.

Background material for this post comes from Norman Sherry's three-volume biography of Graham Greene (Volume Two in particular) and Brian Alderson's article The Four (Or Five?... Or Six?... Or Seven?...) Children's Books of Graham Greene, which appeared in the December 2005 issue of Children's Literature in Education.

For more information on Graham Greene and his other children's books, see my posts:

The Little Train
The Little Red Fire Engine
The Little Horse Bus

All images are copyrighted © and owned by their respective holders.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


THE LITTLE HORSE BUS (1952) was the third picture book created by Graham Greene and Dorothy Glover (who published as Dorothy Craigie). Because there was such a long lag time between when their second book The Little Red Fire Engine was composed and when it was published, the two books appeared in the same year. (For more information on Greene and Glover's personal lives, and the circumstances around the delay of The Little Red Fire Engine, see my previous posts here and here.) After Glover's death, the book was re-illustrated in 1974 by Edward Ardizzone. While some of the behavior in the first two books might border on criminal, it is here that Greene first brings an actual crime to his children's work.

"EVERYBODY FOR MILES AROUND Goose Lane used to buy their groceries at Mr. Potter's shop." He has several employees, three cats to keep out the mice, and a pony. And he always has a lollipop at hand for children in need.

One day a competitor opens shop across the street. "It was called the Hygienic (which only means clean) Emporium (which only means shop) Company Limited (and that means it was owned by Sir William Popkins, who never came into the shop and never put lollipops in bags.)"

Mr. Potter's clientele defects to the shiny new store. He is forced to let his assistants and three cats go. He only keeps on the delivery boy and the pony out of a sense of responsibility, but he doesn't really have the money to even pay his bills. He does not know what he is going to do.

Then late one night he hears a banging outside. He goes down and finds a garage with a broken lock whose door was banging in the wind. Inside he finds a "dusty and neglected...little horse bus".

The Hygienic Emporium makes its grocery deliveries in a hansom cab. If Mr. Potter could make deliveries in the little horse bus, he might be able to compete. The plan, however, fails.

Meanwhile, the booming business across the street attracts the attention of a pair of thieves who plan to steal the hansom cab when it makes its weekly bank deposit run on Saturday. "Puzzle. Find the thieves."

The thieves make their move, and race off with the hansom cab. The little horse bus, pony, and delivery boy are nearby, but it is the little horse bus who realizes that the hansom is being driven by thieves. He pushes the pony to action (and the delivery boy gets thrown in the process). The hansom cab thunders down the street with the little horse bus in mad pursuit.

The thieves get away, but the little horse bus is determined. He forces the pony to walk through the night in search of the culprits.

At last they find a clue: the hansom cab's lamp, which was knocked off in the chase. The pony wants to find a policeman, but the little horse bus once again forces the pony to action.

The thieves are captured. Mr. Potter gets a big reward from the police. And people are so excited by the little horse bus's bravery that they come to Mr. Potter's store to shop rather than the Emporium just to see him. The Emporium is forced to close its doors for lack of business, and Mr. Potter gets to live in a dream.

Background material for this post comes from Norman Sherry's three-volume biography of Graham Greene (Volume Two in particular) and Brian Alderson's article The Four (Or Five?... Or Six?... Or Seven?...) Children's Books of Graham Greene, which appeared in the December 2005 issue of Children's Literature in Education.

Coming Soon: Graham Greene's Little Steamroller

All images are copyrighted © and owned by their respective holders.

Monday, August 16, 2010


GRAHAM GREENE'S SECOND PICTURE BOOK The Little Red Fire Engine was published by Max Parrish in 1952 some four or five years after its composition. When the book had been written in 1947 or 1948, Greene was living in London with the book's illustrator Dorothy Glover (published as Dorothy Craigie) during the week, living with his wife Vivien and their children in Oxford on the weekends, and carrying out a passionate love affair with a married woman Catherine Walston. He worked for the publishing firm Eyre & Spottiswoode who had published his first children's book The Little Train and was scheduled to publish the second. But in the intervening years, Dorothy learned of his affair with Catherine, which led to a prolonged, painful end to their relationship (that included Dorothy once hiding all of his pants to prevent him from leaving the house to see Catherine, or even more dramatically, burning him with a cigarette), and Greene had a falling out with Eyre & Spottiswoode's co-director Doublas Jarrold, causing him to take The Little Red Fire Engine elsewhere. He also became one of the biggest English authors in the world with the runaway success of his novel The Heart of the Matter, a story of a married man tormented with guilt over his affair with another woman. And with all of that in the background, Greene and Glover created this book.

"HERE IS SAM TROLLEY, the fireman of Little Snoreing..."

"Here is the little fire engine."

"Here is the pony who pulled the little fire engine. His name is Toby."

Toby was born on Farmer Coote's farm, which is located between Little Snoreing and the market town of Much Snoreing. The mayor of Much Snoreing has it in for Sam and the little fire engine, because he feels that Sam doesn't pay him the right amount of respect. So he writes to the Lord Mayor of London:

"'Send us a real motor fire engine to Much Snoreing,' he wrote, 'and we'll put out all the fires in Little Snoreing too.'"

The Lord Mayor of London complies. So on the eve of Fire Brigade Day, the day when Sam and Toby and the little fire engine parade the streets collecting money for the Firemen's Orphanage, Sam receives a note: "You and the little fire engine which is out of date will not be wanted anymore..."

The new fire engine with its five professional firemen arrive and are celebrated on Fire Brigade Day while Sam tries to figure out what he is going to do with his life now that he is out of work. He considers returning to the sea, his original calling, but he feels a responsibility to Toby and the little fire engine. He decides he will become a peddler.

They travel the countryside through the summer, Toby suffering hay fever and the little fire engine nostalgic for fires of the past.  Autumn comes:

Then winter: "Winter in the old days meant warm fires--fires to sit by and sometimes fires to put out. Now...Old Sam Trolley suffered badly from rheumatism...The little fire engine suffered badly from rust...Toby suffered from boredom."

As if this weren't enough, the new firemen go out of their way to ridicule the former fire team.

This final insult causes Toby to kick his way out of the stable and return to Farmer Coote's farm, where he was born.

New Year's night arrives. A huge party is held at the new firehouse in Much Snoreing. Everyone attends but Sam.

A fire breaks out in Farmer Coote's farm. Toby awakes to the smell of smoke and automatically goes into his training. He breaks out of the stable and runs to fetch Sam and the little fire engine. The old fire team rushes to the farm. "Farmer Coote heard the beat of hoofs coming down the road. 'We are saved,' he cried."

In light of their disgrace, the new firemen and their engine return to London. The mayor of Much Snoreing loses his post. And Sam, Toby, and the little fire engine are reinstated in a brand new firehouse.

AFTER DOROTHY GLOVER'S DEATH, all four of Greene's picture books were reissued with new illustrations by Edward Ardizzone.

If there was any question about the motive for reprinting these books, Greene makes it clear by rewriting the opening of The Little Fire Engine:

Still, Ardizzone was a master.

Background material for this post comes from Norman Sherry's three-volume biography of Graham Greene (Volume Two in particular) and Brian Alderson's article The Four (Or Five?... Or Six?... Or Seven?...) Children's Books of Graham Greene, which appeared in the December 2005 issue of Children's Literature in Education.

For my post on Graham Greene's first picture book see: The Little Train.

Coming Soon: Graham Greene's Little Horse Bus

All images are copyrighted © and owned by their respective holders.

Friday, August 13, 2010


SHORTLY BEFORE WORLD WAR II and the German bombing of London, Graham Greene, the author of Orient Express and The Third Man, rented a room in Mecklenburgh Square to use as a writing studio. The room was let by two women, a mother and her adult daughter Dorothy Glover. Greene and Glover became lovers and lived together for much of the war, each working as fire spotters and Dorothy as a bomb shelter warden, while Greene's wife Vivien and their children lived in safety in Oxford. Greene felt tremendous guilt over his infidelity with Dorothy, but he admitted, even to his wife, that Dorothy was one of the great loves of his life. They remained a couple for over nine years.

Their relationship ended much as it had begun: Graham Greene fell in love with another woman, Lady Catherine Walston, and began an affair. And like the guilt he felt for his infidelity to his wife, he harbored a similar guilt for his infidelity with Dorothy. By this time the war was over and Greene was working as a publisher at Eyre & Spottiswoode. Aware that his abandonment of her removed one of her financial supports, Greene signed on Dorothy Glover, working under the name Dorothy Craigie, as a children's book author and illustrator. Her first book was to be The Little Train (1946). Only, Dorothy Glover had not written The Little Train. Graham Greene had.

READERS OF CHOO CHOO: THE STORY OF A LITTLE  ENGINE WHO RAN AWAY (1937) by Virginia Lee Burton and The Little Red Engine Gets a Name (1942) by Diana Ross will recognize the story. "The little train had lived all his life at Little Snoreing." And while the picturesque town depends on him, he is bored with the little town and longs to go "see the world outside where the great expresses go."

Early one morning the little train takes his chance. He tears out of the station at Little Snoreing as fast as he can (a whole twenty-five miles an hour). He passes a foal, a hedgehog, a turtle, an express train, over a bridge beneath which are steamboats, a castle where a king had once been killed, "'Miles and miles and miles,' thought the little train."

He ends up in the mountains. "In that desolation the little train began to long for the friendly whistle of the guard, the tapping of the platelayers, the hooting of the little foghorn." His mood lifts as he leaves the mountains, and then at last he makes it to the great city of Smokeoverall. There he is instantly overwhelmed by the rush of sights and sounds.

"Nobody had ever told the little train that the world could be like this." In a panic, he goes into reverse (as a train on the tracks, he can't turn around). He goes through stop lights and switch points losing his head and losing his way. He is almost out of coal, and he wonders what nice little train will replace him back at Little Snoreing.

But then he finds himself face to face with "the great Jock of Edinburgh, the famous Scotch express." "'Hoots wee mon,' [Jock] said crossly because he was in a great hurry. 'What are you doing on my line?'"

The little train explains his adventure and how he will never see home again. But Jock tells him that he is only ten miles away and then offers to push the little train home.

Back in Little Snoreing, the townspeople are so happy that the little train is home that they have a celebration in his honor.

THE LITTLE TRAIN was the first of four picture books that Graham Greene and Dorothy Glover published. The second, The Little Red Fire Engine (1952), was completed and on its way to production when Greene had a falling out with the previous director at Eyre & Spottiswoode (who was still at the firm) and as a result left the company. He negotiated an agreement with his former employer to allow the book to be published by Max Parrish. As part of that agreement the book was to appear under Graham Greene's own name, and so when The Little Red Fire Engine was released, it included a blurb on one of the jacket flaps that "it can now be revealed" that Greene was also the author of The Little Train. This revelation was no doubt also brought about as a way to provide Dorothy Glover with some financial stability as Greene had become a bestselling author whose name would guarantee sales.

By 1957, Greene and Glover's books made a nice set, and to emphasize the books as a series, Max Parrish acquired the rights to The Little Train and had Glover rework it to fit the trade design of the last two books.

This involved shortening the book from forty-eight pages to thirty-six, and alternating four-color illustrations with two-color illustrations. To do this Glover had to redraw many of the illustrations.

1946 edition

1958 edition

Greene made very slight alterations to the text. The one of most interest appears when the little train is in the mountains. Instead of "In that desolation the little train began to long for..." Greene softens it to "It was so lonely that the little train longed for..."

But by this time, Greene had very little to do with Dorothy and it is unclear how involved he was in the reissue. Even though their relationship had ended, however, Greene remained protective of her. When approached by The Bodley Head to reissue the picture books with new illustrations, Greene refused. It was only after Glover's death that he allowed the books to be re-illustrated. Creator of the Tim series (and one of Greene's friends) Edward Ardizzone was chosen to do the job. His illustrations are warmer than Glover's illustrations (though not as striking), and his layouts owe much to her.

1958 edition

Ardizzone edition (1973)

1958 edition

Ardizzone edition (1973). Note the return of "In that desolation..."

Even these later editions quickly fell out of print, and it is not quite surprising. While adequate, Greene's story has been told before and better (see above). But it is a shame that Dorothy Glover's vibrant illustrations have also been forgotten, relegated to a footnote in Graham Greene's life.

I of course consulted Norman Sherry's three-volume biography of Graham Greene (Volume Two in particular) for the background information in this post, but the bulk of the material was heavily borrowed from Brian Alderson's article The Four (Or Five?... Or Six?... Or Seven?...) Children's Books of Graham Greene, which appeared in the December 2005 issue of Children's Literature in Education.

Coming Soon: Graham Greene's Little Red Fire Engine

All images are copyrighted © and owned by their respective holders.