Follow the adventures of the "Lone Pine Club."
Malcolm Saville, born Leonard Malcolm Saville was a prolific author of a great series of books which spanned four decades all about the Lone Pine Club. Saville was born in 1901 and left school in 1918 to work at the Oxford University Press, sorting stock for bookseller's orders. In the 1920's he worked for Amalgamated Press in the Publicity Department, and in 1936 he joined George Newness in London as Sales Promotion Manager, but in 1939 at the outbreak of the Second World War, he sent his children as evacuees to the Shropshire countryside.
He began to write stories for his children about the countryside in which they were staying. It was fresh and exciting with wonderful characters and was eventually published in 1943 as, Mystery At Witchend.
It is an adventure story about a group of spies who set up a base in a cottage on the lonely, Long Mynd in Shropshire. But they are defeated by a group of inspiring youngsters who form a secret club at the base of a lonely pine tree. And thus the "Lone Pine Club" is born.
At the beginning, the "Lone Pine Club" had five members. David Morton, fifteen years of age and his brother and sister, Richard and Mary nine year old twins. The Morton's, spend their holidays at Witchend, their lovely old house in the country. There is also, Petronella Sterling known as Peter, is slightly younger than David and Tom Ingles the eldest of the five, a Londoner who comes to work on his Uncle's farm. David is reliable, quick and sporting, especially fond of cricket, he is easily agitated by the twins childish chatter and irritable manner. Peter is loyal, thoughtful, compassionate, brave and becomes David's special friend.
Tom can be brash, hates the countryside at first, but soon warms to it, wanting a farm of his own. Over the books there are further "Lone Piners". Jenny Harman a romantic and excitable redhead, who becomes friends with Tom. And there is Jonathan Warrender and his cousin Penny. Jon is frustratingly intelligent and down to earth. Most academic, with interest in Science and Languages. Penny is quick and impulsive. Harriet Sparrow arrives later in the series, known as Harry, she is kind, sensible but sensitive. And I mustn't forget, Macbeth the faithful Scottie dog, ready to bite any enemy, who is mainly carried in the basket of Mary's bike.
The beauty of the books, in not only being so well written, is the attention to detail of the countryside. Saville was inspired by the area in which he set them. As he travelled west over the hills and valleys he would find more secret places to include in the books. And there was always a map at the beginning to get you in the mood for the story ahead.
There was twenty books in the series, spanning the years, 1943 to 1978, with a number being serialised for BBC Children's Hour.
I enjoyed the books immensely as a youngster in the late 1960's collecting my favourites, with the books getting very collectable today, especially the early hard back editions.
It's great when I manage to find one to add to my collection, I settle down reliving my youth, to a great story from one of the top contemporary children's writers.