Contact the Secretary Bryan Holden at 8 Park Road, Solihull, West Midlands B91 3SU for more information.
writer and artist, BB (Denys Watkins-Pitchford)
was born on 25 July 1905 in the village of Lamport, deep in the Northamptonshire
The second son (one of twins) of the local rector, he spent much of his boyhood exploring the countryside around his home, Lamport Rectory, a spacious Queen Anne period house. At an early age he developed a deep love for the countryside and a talent for drawing and painting.
At the age of 15 he went to Northampton School of Art where he won a scholarship to study in Paris, returning to London to complete his studies at the Royal College of Art. After leaving Art School, he obtained a position as assistant art master at Rugby School where he was to remain for 17 years.
During this time he was contributing regularly for the Shooting Times magazine and also writing his first full-length story, Wild Lone, the story of a one-eared Pytchley fox called Rufus. Wild Lone was to become a classic of its kind and bears comparison with Henry Williamson's award-winning Tarka the Otter
Denys Watkins-Pitchford's books have been written under the pen name 'BB', although the illustrations have always been signed with his real name, giving the impression that the author and illustrator are different people.
He decided that his proper name was too long and unwieldy, and that BB (the size of lead shot used for goose shooting) was instantly recognisable and gave his work an air of mystery.
He wrote and illustrated over 60 titles of which some 20 are children's stories - the two most well-known being Brendon Chase and The Little Grey Men, the later winning the Carnegie Medal in 1942. In addition, he illustrated over 30 books by other authors with his distinctive black and white scraperboard illustrations and colour plates.
His genius and contribution to literature was officially recognised in 1989 when he was awarded the MBE. He died in 1990 at the age of 85.
THE BB SOCIETY
The BB Society was founded in January 2000, the brainchild of Tom O'Reilly, a self-employed writer and illustrator living in Cornwall. It was agreed that the aims of the Society should be to act as a meeting place and a focal point, for collectors and admirers of BB's (Denys Watkins-Pitchford) books, paintings and illustrations.
The Society now has a membership approaching 400 with members in USA, Canada, South Africa. Eire, Australia, Denmark and the Netherlands, as well as across the UK from Cornwall to the Shetlands.
Two members events are held each year, beginning in February, with the AGM held at Rugby School where BB was assistant art master for 17 years before he took up full-time writing and illustrating.
A Summer Event is held in July and provides an opportunity for members to visit the houses and countryside locations associated with BB mentioned and illustrated in his books.
Locations already visited include BB's last home, The Round House, Sudborough, in Northamptonshire; Lamport Rectory where he was born; nearby All Hallow's Church where his father, the Revd. Walter Watkins-Pitchford was rector, and Shortwood, the home of Lady Susan Farr with its medieval hawking tower featured in Wild Lone BB's classic tale of Rufus the Pytchley Fox. In 2004 the society also visited Shrubland House, Welford.
The Society's annual journal The Sky Gypsy plays an important role in uniting the membership at home and abroad. Published in July, contributions are always welcome. Please contact the editor Bryan Holden , 8 Park Road, Solihull, West Midlands B91 3SU (0121 704 1002). New members are assured of a warm welcome. The annual BB Society Membership subscription is £10.00 Individual; £17.50 Family and £15.00 Overseas Members.
BB's Memoirs - A Collectors Edition
"A Child Alone" by BB
Facsimile of 1st Edtion, produced as a LIMITED EDITION of just 100 copies. Fully bound in Burgudy Morocco leather with gilt edges and silk ribbon marker and in a slip case.
Price : £350.00 + pp and insurance
Orders : River Reads (01805) 625888
Email : email@example.com
Web : www.riverreads.co.uk.
Update for summer 2006
The headstone on BB's grave in Cranford St. John has now been inscribed with the cowslip motif and the iconic 'Wonder of the World' quotation. The work has been financed by the BB Society.
The Little Grey Men Trail - Brixworth. A nature trail featuring wooden storyboards and wooden sculptures of the gnomes Dodder, Baldmoney, Sneezewort and Cloudberry will shortly be under construction in Brixworth Park. Local Heritage Funding has been forthcoming together with a grant from the Nationwide Building Society. See further notes below:
Letters from the Round House. Five years of correspondence between BB and his friend Gordon Wright (1965-70). A limited edition hardback of just 400 copies price £45.00 plus £4.00 p&p. A unique insight into BB's life and times. Rearing Bullfinches, nurturing the larvae of Emperor Butterflies, fisherman's tales, discussion on future books, art and literature. To reserve a copy call Gordon Wright on 01280 815337
BB Archive. Thank you to the members who have given or loaned items for the BB archive. We have promises of books and materials which will be left to the archive in member's wills. I am anxious to establish a complete set of books by BB, not necessarily first editions, but which could be used for research by users of the archive. Maybe you have extra copies of titles which you might be willing to let us have.
contact Yvonne Seward firstname.lastname@example.org
Lantern Cottage, Little Comberton, Pershore, Worcestershire WR10 3EH 01386 710
The Little Grey Men Trail - Brixworth Park
Susan Edwards is a frequent visitor to the Brixworth Country Park, a spacious and beautiful recreational area set in the Northamptonshire countryside. Some years ago she conceived the idea that here was the ideal placed to erect a lasting tribute to mark BB's Centenary Year and to confirm he status as a notable man of letters
Susan approached Northampton County Council (NCC) with her idea which was favourably received, and opened up for discussion. By now Susan had joined the BB Society, and a concept for a wooden sculpture featuring all four of the gnomes was designed by Bryan Holden, on behalf of the Society and put forward for consideration by Brixworth and the NCC.
The seed of the idea now began to germinate and grow into a full-blown project involving a nature trail telling the story of The Little Grey Men, through the use of wooden storyboards, free-standing figures of the principle characters, and culminating in a story-telling arena with a sculptured seat featuring all four gnomes.
How was the project to be funded? The Society applied for Local Heritage Funding, and has been awarded £24, 859, plus a further £3,000 given by the Nationwide Building Society, This is now a major Community Project which will have a countrywide influence.
The BB Society team of Susan Edwards, Brian Mutlow, Gordon Wright and Bryan Holden worked in tandem with the staff at Brixworth to bring the project to fruition, which was completed in early 2007. The trail was officially opened in July 2007 and is still a unique feature of Brixworth Country Park. The Little Grey Men trail leaflet and an audio tour are available from the Visitor Centre and an decorative information panel, in front of the Willow Tree cafe, marks the start of the trail.
For more information
about Brixworth Country Park please visit the website at www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/parks
BB's Children's Books
BB as a writer & artist
Link to 'BB' on The Alliance of Literary Societies site