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Eleanor Farjeon

Eleanor Farjeon was born on February 13th, 1881, in London. She was the author of stories for the young at heart of all ages. Her father was Benjamin Leopold Farjeon, journalist, popular novelist, the author of numerous books described as being very high spirited and enthusiastic with life. Her mother, Margaret, was the daughter of Joseph Jefferson, a well-known American actor who came from the same family as the third U.S. President. The Farjeons were a talented family. The eldest son, Harry, was a composer and a teacher at the Royal Academy of Music; Joe and Herbert became writers.

Eleanor, known to the family as "Nellie", was a small timid child, who had poor eyesight and suffered from ill-health throughout her childhood. She was "home schooled" and she loved books. Perhaps her frequent headaches and colds were contributed to by the dust of the "little bookroom" - an attic space piled with books.  She described growing up in a house filled with reading material, where "it would have been more natural to live without clothes than without books." Although there were books in every room, the little bookroom was given over to them completely, crammed floor to ceiling with haphazardly arranged titles, "much trash, and more treasure." Every visit the young Eleanor made to the bookroom was an expedition of discovery; every book examined had the potential to be a lifelong friend

Her father’s library of 8,000 books provided a fertile field for learning.  He encouraged her writing from the age of five. She wrote lyrics and her brother Harry wrote the music for songs they performed in London. She describes her family and her childhood in the autobiographical, A Nursery in the Nineties (1935). She published her first magazine story, "The Cardboard Angel," at the age of nineteen. When Benjamin Farjeon died in 1903, leaving no inheritance, Eleanor began writing to earn a living. She was twenty-two at the time.

Although she lived much of her life among the literary and theatrical circles of London, much of Eleanor's inspiration came from her childhood and from family holidays. A holiday in France in 1907 was to inspire her to create a story of a troubadour, later refashioned as the wandering minstrel of her most famous book, Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard. For several years she had an unusually intense friendship with the married poet Edward Thomas, until his death in April 1917, during the World War I. Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard was written as a gift to him during his military service. Among her earliest publications is a volume of poems called Pan Worship, published in 1908, and Nursery Rhymes of London Town. During World War I, the family moved to Sussex where the landscape, villages and local traditions were to have a profound effect upon her later writing. It was in Sussex that the Martin Pippin stories were eventually to be located. Martin Pippin in the Apple-Orchard (1921) and its sequel, Martin Pippin in the Daisy Field (1937) established her reputation as an author.

After World War I Eleanor earned a living as a poet, journalist and broadcaster. Eleanor Farjeon was a regular contributor to Punch from 1914-17, wrote verse as "Tomfool" for the London Daily Herald (1917-30), and was a staff member for the magazine Time and Tide during the 1920s.

The 1930s and 1940s saw numerous collaborative efforts with her brother Herbert, Shakespearian scholar and dramatic critic. Their productions include Kings and Queens (1932), The Two Bouquets (1938), An Elephant in Arcady (1939), and The Glass Slipper (1944).

The Two Banquets¸ an operetta was written in 1936 and published as a novelette in 1948. In 1944 the pair wrote a children’s play called The Glass Slipper, which was published as a full-length book in 1955. Eleanor’s skill as an author truly blossomed in the 1950s with such finely crafted books as Silver-Sand and Snow (1951) and the collection of poems The Children’s Bells (1957).

Farjeon was a prolific writer. Children’s verses, miscellanies, rhymed alphabets, songs and stories all poured forth from her pen. Her most successful works, however, remain her children’s books. During the 1950s she was awarded three major literary prizes: The Carnegie Medal of the Library Association, (for her collection of stories, The Little Bookworm).  Her body of work was honoured in 1956 by the international Hans Christian Andersen Medal and the Regina Medal by the American Catholic Library Association, but she turned down another honor—Dame of the British Empire—explaining that she "did not wish to become different from the milkman."

Eleanor Farjeon never married and had no children. Though very shy and emotionally immature, she was well acquainted with a circle of talented artists, writers and musicians. leanor had a thirty-year friendship with George Earle, an English teacher. After his death in 1949, she had a long friendship with the actor Denys Blakelock, who wrote of it in the book, Eleanor, Portrait of a Farjeon (1966). She described her hobbies as "cooking and cats". She died on 5 June 1965 at Hampstead, London.

Eleanor Farjeon donated her family collection of books to the Dunedin Public Library in memory of her father in 1960. The collection numbers over 200 items written by not only Eleanor Farjeon, but her father and brothers as well.


Cats Sleep Anywhere


Cats sleep anywhere, any table, any chair.

Top of piano, window-ledge, in the middle, on the edge.

Open draw, empty shoe, anybody's lap will do.

Fitted in a cardboard box, in the cupboard with your frocks.

Anywhere! They don't care! Cats sleep anywhere.


The Sounds in the Evening


The sounds in the evening

Go all through the house,

The click of the clock

And the pick of the mouse,

The footsteps of people

Upon the top floor,

The skirts of my mother

That brush by my door,

The crick in the boards,

And the creak of the chairs,

The fluttering murmurs

Outside on the stairs,

The ring at the bell,

The arrival of guest,

The laugh of my father

At one of his jests,

The clashing of dishes

As dinner goes in,

The babble of voices

That distance makes thin,

The mewings of cats

That seem just by my ear,

The hooting of owls

That can never seem near,

The queer little noises

That on one explains –

Till the moon through the slats

Of my window-blind rains,

And the world of my eyes

And my ears melts like steam

As I find in my pillow

The world of my dream.


There Are Big Wave

There are big waves

And little waves,

Green waves and blue.

Waves you can jump over,

Waves you dive through,

Waves that rise up

Like a great water wall,

Waves that swell softly

And don't break at all,

Waves that can whisper,

Waves that can roar,

And tiny waves that run at you

Running on the shore.




Nouns are the things I see and touch,

My Cake, my Mother, and my Ball;

I like some Nouns very much,

Though some I do no like at all.


Verbs are the things I do, and make,

And feel, in one way or another.

Thanks to Verbs, I eat my Cake,

And throw my Ball, and hug my Mother.


Yet Verbs, which make me laugh and play,

Can also make me cry and fall,

And tease my Mother every day,

And spoil my Cake, and lose my Ball!


There Isn't Time!


There isn't time, there isn't time

To do the things I want to do,

With all the mountain-tops to climb,

And all the woods to wander through,

And all the seas to sail upon,

And everywhere there is to go,

And all the people, every one

Who lives upon the earth, to know.

There's only time, there's only time

To know a few, and do a few,

And then sit down and make a rhyme

About the rest I want to do.


The Tide in the River


The tide in the river,

The tide in the river,

The tide in the river runs deep,

I saw a shiver

Pass over the river

As the tide turned in its sleep.


Теченье у речки,

Теченье у речки,

Теченье у речки бежит в глубине,

Я вижу, как в речке

Струятся колечки,

Как будто теченье кружится во сне.


The Planets


The moon is made of silver,
The sun is made of gold,
And Jupiter is made of tin,
So the ancients told.
Venus is made of copper,
Saturn is made of lead,
And Mars is made of iron,
So the ancients said.
But what the Earth was made of
Very long ago
The ancients never told us
Because they didn't know.
Категорія: Статті на різні теми | Додав: toha (22.05.2011)
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