Today is Tuesday and that means it is time for The Broke and the Bookish‘s fabulous meme, Top Ten Tuesday. I love this meme and this is my third time of writing a Top Ten Tuesday post (I have written previously about book covers and ‘fandom’). I am really keen to participate today as part of my effort to commemorate the writer Mary Stewart, who died three years ago today on 9 May 2014.
I also hope to blog a second post after work today, sharing what I have done to mark this third anniversary of Mary Stewart’s death, so please look out for that, especially if you live in central Scotland!
Meantime, how best to tackle this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, which is:
May 9: Ten Things On Our Reading Wishlist (topic originally done January 2014)
This little blog of mine is a specialised one: I write about Mary Stewart and no-one else. Sadly, there is no point in making a Top Ten of what else I wish she would write, but I do still have a reading wishlist. It is a Top Three rather than a Top Ten today. Here goes!
1. The Enchanted Journey
Mary Stewart has talked publicly about this book since at least 1970. It is the very first book she wrote, dating back to the late 1940s-early 1950s. As far as I know, this is the only writing of hers that remains unpublished. That makes it Number One on my wishlist. I need this book! What do we know about it?
i. It is a children’s book. If it is anything like The Little Broomstick, Ludo and the Star-horse or A Walk in Wolf Wood, then there will also be a great deal for adult readers to enjoy.
ii. The inspiration for this book is Walter de la Mare’s Henry Brocken (this link takes you to a short summary of the book in the Big Readers archive). In ‘About Mary Stewart’ (p8, 1970, 1973), the author writes of
Henry Brocken which, with its dream-magic, its poetry, and its strong literary connections, appealed to me very much.
iii. Publishers rejected this book as too frightening for children. Mary Stewart spoke about this in her interview by Jenny Brown (this ‘Off the Page’ television interview has disappeared from YouTube but you can at least still read my transcript of the interview). I think this sounds amazing:
And then I wrote a story for children, a fairy story, called The Enchanted Journey and sent this to every conceivable publisher in the United Kingdom. It’s still upstairs. It was too… They said it was too frightening for children. It was something like the adult thrillers I write now but with children. As a matter of fact, I think they were wrong, children just love frightening stories and witches, and murder and sudden death and so on.
iv. There >may< be plans to publish this book (or is it a re-issue of Wolf Wood that is meant?), as revealed in this 2016 Guardian article by Alison Flood, in which Mary Stewart’s niece Jennifer Ogden,
revealed the existence of an unpublished children’s story, written in 1953, which was rejected at the time for being “too frightening”. Stewart was also the author of acclaimed children’s novels including The Little Broomstick and A Walk in Wolf Wood, and this latest is with a publisher.
Wolf Wood presumably would not be ‘with a publisher’, it would remain with Hodder’s children’s arm, so I hope that ‘this latest’ refers to The Enchanted Journey. Since this article, I have heard nothing about publication of The Enchanted Journey. I hope that its release date will be announced when The Little Broomstick is re-issued in conjunction with the film Mary and the Witch’s Flower. For now, I can only wish…
2. The Lost One
I have been jumping up and down about this short story from 1960 for some time now. This story is about Perdita, who went on to be the main character in The Wind off the Small Isles some eight years later. While Small Isles has at last been more widely released, ‘The Lost One‘ remains hard to obtain. My wish is that it would be published with Small Isles in one book: hardly anyone knows of the existence of ‘The Lost One’ and it seems odd to me that sellers of old copies of ‘Woman’s Journal’ are the main beneficiaries of our need to read this story! The British Library rightly charges a copyright fee that must go to Mary Stewart’s estate, as part of the cost of what is a very expensive black and white photocopy of the article. A book offering both stories in one would be much more attractive.
And while I am wishing for this, I might as well go a step further and hope that someone writes the third part of Mary Stewart’s planned trilogy (details are in the Small Isles link: her plan had been to publish ‘The Lost One’, Small Isles and a never-written concluding story in one volume). However, the writer would have to make a brilliant job of it!
3. The Loch
Again, please can this short story/essay (as discussed in my last Top Ten Tuesday post) be re-issued so that Mary Stewart fans can discover it. Perhaps it could be published alongside the Perdita stories. Or maybe there are other stories that I know nothing about with which it could be published! Or there could be a mix of articles and interviews – what about Raymond H Thompson’s interview or Mary Stewart’s ‘escapism’ article?
Today’s list is wordy enough without, for example, wishing that Hitchcock had made films of her books, so I have stopped – like all the best fairy-tales – at three wishes. My Top Three Tuesday has seemingly become an open letter to Mary Stewart’s publisher: please read this, Hodder!