Clarissa Cridland, Co-Owner and Publisher
I am a priest in the Church of England, and I serve as Associate Priest for the parishes of Holy Trinity, Coleford and St Andrew’s, Holcombe in Somerset. In addition, I am Publisher for Girls Gone By Publishers, and so my days are spent divided between the parish and publishing.
I started working in publishing in November 1976, for J M Dent in the Children’s Department (alas, not enough of Our Type of book, although we did publish Noel Streatfeild, Edward Ardizonne and Arthur Catherall, all of whom I met, and we had published Mabel Esther Allen and after I left there was another Viola Bayley, primarily because I had sold some of her earlier books into a foreign language). In January 1982 I moved to Somerset to work for Purnell (Noddy, Disney and other character books). This was owned by Robert Maxwell and in 1985 he merged the division for which I worked with Macdonald Children’s Books and for me it was a case of moving back to London (with Noddy) or redundancy. I chose to move, but only during the week, coming back to Coleford every weekend. In November1987 I moved to Macmillan Children’s Books as Rights and Contracts Manager, which involved spending Fridays in Basingstoke (half way home). This department was merged with Pan Children’s Books in about 1990, and so I became Rights and Contracts Director of Pan Macmillan Children’s Books – and found Lorna Hill’s ballet books on the Pan list. But publishing changes, and in early 1994 it was a case of becoming Contracts Director for the whole trade list (adult and children’s), or redundancy. I chose the latter, and spent some years at home working freelance for various publishers doing their contracts, as well as initially selling rights. It was in 2001 that Ann Mackie-Hunter and I decided to set up Girls Gone By, and my previous publishing experience has been very useful!
My mother used to read to me every night, but she became very tired of my favourite book, How The Mole Got His Car, and so at an early age introduced me to The Ponies of Bunts, Moorland Mousie, Silver Snaffles and other pony stories. She was horrified when my father brought home an Enid Blyton he had picked up in a jumble sale (The Mystery of the Strange Messages), which actually rather scared me, although I read it avidly. And in fact it wasn’t the first Enid Blyton I read; that was Five Go Off to Camp which an eight year old friend had shared with me, and which scared me even more. But I digress. It was my mother who introduced me to more Blyton, and then a host of other authors including Elinor Brent-Dyer, as she went each week to Basingstoke Library borrowing a mass of books to keep my reading going. But aged 13 things changed, and I became a teenager overnight, and persuaded Mummy to sell my Blytons so that I could buy a fantastic teenage outfit. Luckily, she put some of them in the attic, and so when a few years later I started to read Our Type of book again she was able to dig them out. And so I had a nucleus with which to start – some Blytons, four Chalets, a few Monica Edwards and four Williams, and a few others. By this time I was living in London and haunted every jumble sale I could find. I did not find many Chalets, but I did acquire some Lorna Hill, Dorita Fairlie Bruce, Biggles and a host of others. When I moved down to Somerset in 1982, I was able to build my collection more, and then I went to Hay on Wye… A few years later, I discovered book fairs, and catalogues, The Abbey Chronicle and Friends of the Chalet School, all leading me on my journey to GGBP.
And what do I read now? Well still Our Type of book, though not so much as I mainly read a lot of theological books (and of course the Bible), and in my lighter moments am very hot on clerical biographies. I also enjoy Dick Francis and a few who-dun-its as well as Cynthia Harrod Eagles’ Dynasty series (which I first read for nothing when I was at Purnell and we had returned paperbacks back at the distribution arm of the company). But I sometimes have great urges and have a spell of coming back into the world of Our Type of book.
For GGBP I am responsible for all the contracts, and for organising the publishing programme with the various editors and typesetters, and for dealing with our printers. I also answer all the e-mails, and maintain the website. As well, I like looking after our stock rooms, and opening the post!
Ann Mackie-Hunter, Co-Owner and Manager
I grew up in Scotland outside Glasgow but moved to Australia in 1967 when I was 16. I have always loved reading and my parents told me I began to read aged three when my father taught me as he grew tired of reading Noddy to me every day.We initially lived in the outback but unfortunately I could not acclimatise to the heat. However, the local library was air conditioned, and I spent hours in the children’s book department, reading everything they had. To my joy they had some Brent-Dyers I had never read. That is where I met many of the authors we publish now. I spent most of my career as a teacher, but took early retirement for reasons of health when I moved back to the UK in 1994.
It was when I lived in Sydney in 1987 and read an advert in the Australian Woman’s Weekly for the Abbey Girls of Australia (Elsie Oxenham) that first encountered the wider world of collecting. It really was a life changing moment for from that eventually came Friends of the Chalet School and Girls Gone By. Before then I thought I was the only one who still enjoyed the books of my early years and then I was able to meet and share my enthusiasm with other like minded people and to discover books I never new existed by my favourite authors and to add to my collection. I will never forget the thrill of those early months.
I taught English Literature ands have read and studied widely in that field but since my retirement from teaching my great love, reading wise, is adult fantasy and some types of science fiction. I love such authors as Mercedes Lackey, David Eddings, and David Weber’s Honorverse series. And I re-read Lord of the Rings most years. I also love some Regency romantic fiction, Miss Reed, Doreen Tovey etc. I’m an Ardmann fan, Wallace and Gromit Shaun the Sheep and I even admit to enjoying Timmy Time. Whenever a GGBP book arrives, it disappears into the bathroom, and I am apt to spend longer in there than I should, reading happily. I have loved the Chalet Books for over 50 years, and I have taken great satisfaction in introducing two of my favourite authors, Clare Mallory and Gwendoline Courtney, to a wider audience. I have always read the daily paper and a number of magazines, weekly and monthly, so am a bit of a printaholic.
I am involved with Holy Trinity, our village church and on a weekly basis I do the sacristan’s work, which involves setting up for services, cleaning the communion plate and vessels and washing and ironing the linen. I also do the flowers and help with fund raising and the parish magazine.
My garden is one of my great loves and I am fortunate to have help as due to back trouble I cannot bend for long, dig or lift heavy objects. There are about a hundred pots which change with the seasons with daffodils and tulips in the spring, pansies and polyanthuses in late spring and fuchsias in the summer. I have a passion for David Austin’s old English roses and have about 20 of them in pots plus some in the garden itself. It’s a small garden but the pots allow me greater scope and are well worth the feeding and watering. I love the traditional English cottage garden and have lots of honeysuckle and clematis. The hedge in the back garden is made up of roses, clematis and honeysuckle. I enjoy visiting stately homes, and have visited all the properties nearby. I am a National Trust member and enjoy going to the beautiful gardens at Stourhead. I also like looking around old churches.
Naturally I like bookfairs and have fond memories of those of ten years ago when books were more plentiful. I collect the Girls Own Papers from the 20s to the 40s for their lovely covers – I also collect the annuals. As well, I collect Nina K Brisley, Margaret Tarrant, both her books, and her religious postcards and Cicely May Barker’s religious postcards, which sadly are very hard to find. I also collect some school and guide stories of the 1920s and ’30s if they have attractive wrappers. I have all of DC Thompson's Broons and Our Wullie annual for the last 60 years including the specials and look forward to receiving the new ones each Christmas. I also have an enthusiasm for collecting all the dustwrappered editions of Elinor Brent-Dyer, Elsie Oxenham and Dorita Fairlie.
For GGBP, I send out the day-to-day orders, and enjoy seeing the different books which people order. I am also responsible for the day-to-day maintenance of our database, entering on all those who pre-order titles which are not yet published. And I also do such things as order all the stationery, and the couriers (a very time consuming task!). It is also my joy (?) to pay all the bills, and I also answer any letters.
Rich Cutler, Typesetter and Proofreader
As well as proofreading and typesetting for GGBP, I am a photographer, editor and designer at Helius (www.helius.biz), and am an advanced member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders and of The Royal Photographic Society.
Adrianne Fitzpatrick, Typesetter, Editor and Proofreader
I have more than 20 years experience in publishing and have provided freelance services to Girls Gone By since 2003. I have never outgrown my love of children's books and am thrilled to be able to combine my reading life with my working life as a freelance editor, proofreader, book designer and writer.
Ruth Jolly, Chalet Series Editor
I used to be in trouble for reading Chalet School books when I should have been studying Goethe or Molière. As Girls Gone By's Chalet Series Editor I can now read them to my heart's content! In addition to working on Chalet books, both reprints and new fiction, I get involved in some other projects, and confess to a particular affection for the non-fiction section. I am a freelance editor and proofreader, and have been involved in publishing one way or another for most of my working life.
Susan Merskey, Orders sent by Post in the USA and Canada
I have lived in Canada since 1976. I am lucky enough to have a comprehensive collection of books by EBD, EJO, DFB and other GGBP authors, and would never have known about some, such as Claire Mallory, without GGBP. I'm married with three adult children and five grandchildren. I am a freelance editor and an active volunteer with a number of organizations locally. I am not, strictly speaking, a dealer for GGBP, but ever since they started publishing, I have accepted orders from people living in either Canada or the US, or anyone else who can pay me in either US or Canadian dollars, and forwarded them to GGBP along with sterling payment. The orders are despatched directly from GGBP.
Tig Thomas, Editor
I entered publishing because of my passion for children’s books, especially period ones, so working for Girls Gone By has been my dream job. I crossed paths with Clarissa at Macdonald Publishing, before moving to Random House where I was responsible for re-issuing the Biggles series, and edited books by Joan Aiken, and Jan Mark. One of my biggest thrills was working with people who were linked to the golden age of children’s fiction, such as Enid Blyton’s two daughters and Arthur Ransome’s executor, who used to be married to Pamela Whitlock. I edit new books for Girls Gone By, mainly non-fiction titles such as True to the Trefoil, Monica Edwards Biography and Mary Carries On. The best bit of my job is getting to know the authors and working with them to shape their books. I continue to read when I’m not working, and sometimes surface to talk to my family, do a bit of gardening, go camping or take long walks in the Suffolk countryside. I live in a small village, with my husband, four sons, a snake, a fish, a hamster, two terrapins, an axolotl, a cat and a great many books.
Ken Websdale, Cover Designer
I seem to remember being involved with Clarissa and Ann since their first title Northern Lights in 1999 although at that time I didn’t know them personally. I was working for a Graphic Repro company to which the first GGBP printer came with the original book covers to be scanned and reproduced into the covers of the books we know now.
Unfortunately a few years later the firm shut and I found myself redundant. Before long I found myself working with children who found themselves in care. But Adrianne Fitzpatrick was still in touch with me and suggested I got in touch with Clarissa about continuing to reproduce these book covers and colour plates in the books, so I met Clarissa, and Ann as well; we have enjoyed this partnership from then up to the present day. I have updated my equipment since then which has kept up the quality of the covers to the one required by GGBP. I still spend some of my time working with boys now, who have Aspergers Syndrome. I only live a short distance away from GGBP in the market town of Frome so this is quite handy for tying up the loose ends we get sometimes and ensuring all goes well for these lovely books that you all enjoy reading so much.
Jane Webster, Orders by Post in New Zealand
I am retired and living in the Manawatu district of New Zealand with my husband and our Ragdoll cat. I am a reader, a book collector, and an avid charity book fair attendee who can be found queuing for hours outside halls small and large on many winter weekends just for the privilege of being at the sales tables a few minutes before those who didn't queue at all. Luckily I have like-minded book friends who are usually queuing right alongside me.
When the first GGBP reprint was published in 2001, I co-ordinated the orders from New Zealand and continue to do so to this day.
Sarah Woodall, Typesetter, Copy-editor, and Proofreader
I have been associated with GGBP as a freelance since 2005, and have worked on more than 50 GGBP books so far. My contributions usually include copy-editing, proofreading and typesetting, and I have recently designed the covers of three books: A Whiff of Burnt Boats, Monica Edwards: the Authorised Biography and Malcolm Saville: A Friendship Remembered. I provide my professional services to a wide range of clients through Altocumulus Document Engineering, and can be contacted via my own website at www.altocumulus.co.uk
I am 14 years old, a very beautiful Siamese, and it is I who am really in charge of All That Goes On. Minty, my sister, was put to slleep on 17th March.
I have irritable bowel syndrome which is controlled with injections (anti sick and steriod). These have made me put on wieght and I am 4.5 kilos. I sleep a lot, being especially fond of the linen cupboard in the morning. But I also enjoy playing with my many woollen mice, and I really like helping in the office. I am particularly keen on watching Clarissa at the computer, and seeing what she is doing.