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I'm perfectly happy and am looking forward to do business with you again! Ebay, Mar. 2014

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BB
or Denys Watkins-Pitchford

Monty Woodpig's Caravan What puzzled me and, I guess, many people when they first come across BB's wonderful illustrations, is - why did Denys Watkins-Pitchford decide to use the pseudonym 'BB'? Well the explanation is quite simple - BB is the size of the lead shot used for goose shooting.

He decided that it was much more memorable than his real name, was instantly recognizable and gave his work an air of mystery. In this he definitely succeeded and the mystery continues for the uninitiated today.

Wild Lone by BBBB was born on 25 th July 1905 , the second son of twins, in Lamport, in the Northamptonshire countryside. His father, a rector, encouraged him to spend much of his boyhood exploring the countryside around the family home, Lamport Rectory, which was a spacious Queen Anne period house. It was at this early stage that BB developed his talent for drawing and painting, and at the age of 15 went to Northampton School of Art.

After art school BB obtained a position as assistant art master at Rugby School where he remained for 17 years. During his weekends at home he completed his first full length story, Wild Lone, about a one eared pytchley fox called Rufus. BB later wrote about this book "the story unfolded with a strange and quite frightening intensity - I could not write fast enough, it was as though my hand was guided by an invisible driving force". He completed the book in just eight weeks, sending it to the publishers Eyre & Spottiswoode along with the story Sportsman's Diary . Most unusually the publisher accepted both works, a great compliment for a young writer.

Little Grey Men by BBBB's fifth book and his first children's book, has the instantly memorable title of The Little Grey Men. It's an enchanting story of four gnomes - Sneezewort, Dooder, Cloudberry and Baldmoney, who live under an oak tree beside Folley Brook. This book was a well deserved winner of the prestigious Carnegie Medal in 1942. BB went on to write some 20 children's books including Down The Bright Stream , a sequel to Little Grey Men, and Monty Woodpig's Caravan - the story of a bachelor hedgehog of settled habits, who one day met a dormouse, Milly Gobbysim. They got married and set off on an adventurous honeymoon in Monty's caravan. Other children's books by BB include a series of nine books about Bill Badger in which Uncle Bill and Izzybizzy, his hedgehog friend, sail countless miles up and down the canals in their barge The Wandering Wind .

Monty WoodpigBB is a man of many interests, but one of his most consuming was his passion for the majestic Purple Emperor (Apasture Iris) butterfly. He realized that the butterfly was on the brink of extinction, and therefore spent long hours seeking it and finding its eggs and larvae which he raised in specially built outdoor breeding cages.

Right: Illustration from Monty Woodpig's Caravan.

CountryMan's Bedside Book

Another of BB passions was fishing about which he wrote several books. The first of these was The Fisherman's Bedside Book . This title is more common than his other fishing book because it was published in 1945 at the beginning of a revolution in the angling world, and therefore sold well as fisherman snapped up every title looking for new ideas. The Fisherman's Bedside Book was the third in the Bedside series of five books.

 

Sly Fox BB BB went on writing books well past his 70th birthday, although the frequency slowed down and the style became more reflective in tone. In all BB wrote and illustrated over 60 titles and also illustrated at least another 30 books written by other people, his illustrations being distinctive for their black and white scraperboard style. He was awarded the MBE for Contributions To Literature in 1989, and died a year later aged 85.

Since his death BB's books have become ever more sought after, mainly for his delightful yet simple illustrations. In the year 2000 a group of BB's fans founded the BB society, who now issue regular newsletters, an annual journal and conduct an ongoing programme of events.

You can find out more information about the BB Society on their website

Submitted by Adam Parker



A selection of BB books in stock

THE WIND IN THE WOOD
BB, . Illustrated by BB, . Stock no. 2107441
Hollis & Carter. 1st. 1952. Good condition with no wrapper. A collection of fairy-stories illustrated by 12 glorious colour plates plus b/w chapter head and tail decorations. 143 pages. Light blue cloth, silver titles. Covers are marked and scuffed with fading. One plate (P. 90) is MISSING. Crayoning to rear endpaper. [S]
Price: £25.00
THE WIND IN THE WOOD
BB, . Illustrated by BB, . Stock no. 2106950
Hollis & Carter. 1st. 1952. Very good condition in a very good dustwrapper. A collection of fairy-stories illustrated by 12 glorious colour plates plus b/w chapter head and tail decorations. 143 pages. Light blue cloth, silver titles. Mottling to spine; a little fading to cover edges. Name in ink to front endpaper. Foxing to endpapers and a few to outer page edges. Illustrations are excellent. Wrapper has a few closed tears and chips. A little loss to corners and top of spine. Browning to wrapper spine. Some edge-creasing to wrapper. [S]
Price: £200.00
THE POOL OF THE BLACK WITCH
BB, . Illustrated by BB, . Stock no. 1306707
Methuen Children's Books Ltd.. 1st. 1974. Good condition in an almost very good dustwrapper. Red boards, black title to spine. Embossed vignette of fish in pool to front cover. B/w illustrations. A fishing story for children set in Wales. Ex-lib with the usual stamps and remains of labels. Foxing to textblock and some light fingering to page margins. Dustwrapper is slightly edge rubbed, foxed on flaps. [R] 0416780903.
Price: £48.00
THE POOL OF THE BLACK WITCH
BB, . Illustrated by BB, . Stock no. 1306702
Methuen Children's Books Ltd.. 1st. 1974. Almost very good condition in an almost very good dustwrapper. Red boards, black title to spine. Embossed vignette of fish in pool to front cover. B/w illustrations. A fishing story for children set in Wales. Ex-lib with ink stamps, removal of labels etc as usual. Some tippex marks to endpapers. Some light fingering to contents. Child's name in ink to lower edge of textblock. Dustwrapper is slightly edge worn, small tear to lower corner of front panel. [R] 0416780903.
Price: £68.00
THE NATURALIST'S BEDSIDE BOOK
BB, . Illustrated by BB, . Stock no. 2105953
Michael Joseph. 1st. 1980. Slightly better than very good condition in a nearly fine dustwrapper. A book with a sporting flavour but mostly concerned with the secret life in wood and field. Green boards. B/w wood engravings. Wrapper is lightly edge-creased. [S] 0718119274.
Price: £50.00
THE COUNTRYMAN'S BEDSIDE BOOK
BB, . Illustrated by BB, . Stock no. 2105811
Eyre & Spottiswoode. 1st. 1941. Almost very good condition with no wrapper. Brown cloth covers with cream cloth spine extending to margin of covers. Brown title to spine. B/w text illustrations. 286 pages. Bumping to spine and corners. Marks to covers, with browning. Ink stamps to prelims - was an ex-royal navy library book. Large corner cut off front endpaper. Some foxing. Rear joint/hinge cracked. [S]
Price: £30.00

 
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