1) The Billy Bunter series by Charles Hamilton
The first book, indeed set of books, I remember reading at the Library in Ebbw Vale was The Billy Bunter series. Every Saturday morning I sat near the window overlooking the High Street reading Chapter after Chapter. It was the first time I ever recall laughing out loud as I became thoroughly immersed in the world of Greyfriars School, The Famous Five, Mr Quelch and The Three Fishers.
I think it was the language as much as anything.”Yoop” “Yaroooh” “He He He” and so on. It doesn’t sound much now but I was very young and certainly greatly entertained. The Chapters were short and punchy; there could be 36 or so per book and I was drawn into the world that had been created.
2) The Famous Five series by Enid Blyton
I loved the loyalty and togetherness of The Famous Five ( Harry Wharton and Co.), the shadier characters like Vernon-Smith, their relationships with older boys like Horace Coker and the rivalry with St Jim’s manifested on the cricket field. Of course looming large at every turn was Billy himself. His only purpose in life seemed to be in gathering food together for his immediate disposal but I always felt he was a more interesting and sympathetic person, if given the chance to show it.
For years I thought the author was Frank Richards and only much later discovered his real name as Charles Hamilton. I see that he may have written as many as a thousand full-length novels with his work appearing in Fleetway House magazines called The Gem and The Magnet. I have a big collection of these stories on my shelves as I write.
3) The Just William series by Richmal Compton
No-one ever read a book to me at home so having found the sort of thing I liked you will see a pattern developing with my next series of books – Just William. The main character, Master William Brown, together with Ginger, Henry and Douglas, formed The Outlaws; various escapades ensued. William’s sheer personality and enthusiasm held everything together. I won’t go into more detail in this short piece , suffice to say – and for me to notice in looking back over the years– that my formative first reading was of a certain kind of story.
And some extras!
Growing up (and developing slowly), I came across many more influences in literature, notably Wind In The Willows, Treasure Island, Peter Rabbit and, although it may seem a little out of place here, David Copperfield (the picture of Dora holding pencils for David as he was writing has stayed with me ever since). Also, the unconditional love from his mother even in some very difficult circumstances, was described so powerfully that it brought a tear to my eye. It was a far cry from The Remove at Greyfriars.
I don’t suppose there is anything remarkable in the books I have named, they are likely to serve as favourites to many people. Yet no matter. The impressions gained in childhood can easily become the food of maturity and so what better than something that stirs a young imagination into action? Thus it seems to me that a story has no need to provide answers but every requirement to allow the reader to find them. In that regard my own writing exists within a world I imagine but at its’ source are some of the threads now guiding me and which I believe both young and old should notice and consider.
BIO: Originating from the South Wales Valleys, Alun Davies had a varied and extensive career including roles in the Civil Service and international trade and accountancy practices before starting his own business. Now retired he lives in London with his wife and three grown up children. In his spare time he writes music and has written original songs to accompany the release of the animation. LIKE Alun’s Facebook page HERE and follow him on instagram as @barryandthechronicles. His own novel for children, Barry And The Chronicles, can be bought HERE.