As a child of the eighties, I was mostly raised by two phenomenal entities; my grandma, and television. Slightly weird UK television shows, such as Rainbow, Button Moon, and of course, The Wombles, all hold an incredibly special place in my heart. This biography of Elisabeth Beresford, creator of The Wombles, lovingly written by her daughter Kate Robertson, gives a lively and entertaining account of her life, taken for letters, interviews, and Robertson’s own treasured memories.
This biography was an absolute joy to read. Beresford’s family history is fascinating, especially the sections which recount the hazardous yet playful “experiments” of Beresford’s older brothers, of which Beresford was the unlucky subject. Beresford’s huge efforts during World War II are also fascinating; how she endured many literal bombings is unfathomable.
But it is when she truly discovers her love for writing, and receives much needed encouragement, that Beresford’s story truly blossoms. Through Robertson’s writing, Beresford comes across as tenacious, a necessary trait of a woman pursuing a career path traditionally taken by men. But her talent and her prolific output cannot be denied.
As seems to be an all-too-common thread in the lives of early-to-mid twentieth century female writers, Beresford’s husband, Max Robertson, comes across as dismissive and somewhat jealous of his wife’s talents, despite Robertson’s own moderate success as a broadcaster. I imagine how truly, truly great Beresford could have been if she were not held back by unfair societal expectations of women.
I cannot begin to tell you how much joy this book brought me, and how much I wept when the book came to the inevitable conclusion. Beresford comes across as a magical, magnetic woman, who above all, wanted to make children laugh. And she did, and still does. She was a true wonder and everyone should read this lovely book and bask in her greatness.
All together now, “Underground, overground…”
The Creator of the Wombles: The First Biography of Elisabeth Beresford, by Kate Robertson, published by Pen and Sword, is released on March 30th, and you can pre-order it right now!
Thank you so much to Pen and Sword for this ARC, in exchange for a fair review.
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