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PAM ROYDS 1924 - 2016

Pam Royds on Grasmere , 1971 with Sally Christie, children’s author and daughter of Philippa Pearce. I was just twenty two when I fir...

About Me

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United Kingdom
My blog is about writing and illustrating children's books which I have been doing since 1974. www.gillianmcclure.com has all my books. I also have another blog: www.paulcoltman.blogspot.com where I publish my father's poems.

Sunday, 30 January 2011


My father, Paul Coltman (1917-2003) 's poem Hieronymous Bosch We Can Do It, is recorded in the above clip for pupils studying the effects of atomic weapons on individuals. The poem is set to images of the bombs dropped in 1945 on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The first part of the clip with Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb, uttering the words "Now I am death, the destroyer of worlds" has mysteriously been removed.

Hieronymous Bosch We Can Do It  is the first poem in A Momentary Stay published by Harry Chambers/ Peterloo Poets.  Harry Chambers was  to publish a posthumous volume of my father's poems but this wonderful publishing house closed down before the book appeared. Harry Chambers sent me the remaining copies of A Momentary Stay in a box, packaged with other books of poetry - the most expensive packaging ever.
Here are two evaluations of Paul Coltman's poetry:
Martin Ward wrote in 2010:
'Paul Coltman has a range of gifts: an ironic and very individual take on the world and its inhabitants, and a constantly exercised sense of the integration of our lives both with times past and with the natural environment, the love of which he stimulates in the reader with tender observations. He was of the generation of 1939-1945, and although he is not a "war poet", warfare provides a recurring theme and subtext, and a plentiful source of imagery throughout his work. Passing on from 1945, he and his poetry entered the apocalyptic age of the cold war and nuclear exchange, furnishing, for the next phase of his output, another stream of concern and of imagery.'

Raphaella Serfati wrote in 2011 about the Hieronymous Bosch We Can Do It clip :
'The interview with Oppenheimer left a strong impact on me and the combination of words and image was very impressive. But I must admit that I was mostly struck by your father's words, meaning, by the poem itself. It's so powerful. I guess it's because of the combination of "positive" words such as "miracles", "astonish" and "celebrate" with the terror and dread of the bomb (which is not mentioned in the text itself, if I am not mistaken, but is only inferred from the context). It's almost as if your father still talks about Nature (as you said he used to), describing a phenomenon which represents or expresses the Sublime, and at the same time, one cannot ignore the presence of the Human parameter in this terrible formula, as an intervening force that shapes a new, modern Nature...' 

I will be posting my father's poems on: paulcoltman.blogspot.com

Sunday, 16 January 2011


I first became acquainted with the  Green Knowe books by Lucy Boston after visiting the Manor at Hemmingford Grey; the setting for these magical stories. 

Now there's a Julian Fellowes film , From Time to Time, based on the second book in the series, The Chimneys of Green  Knowe. Here's a trailer: Julian Fellowes Interview
    Just before Christmas I went to a private showing of  it at the Cambridge Arts Picture House, when Diana Boston, Lucy's daughter-in-law, gave an introductory talk. Despite there being no mention of Green Knowe in the title of the film, a lot of Green Knowe fans still got to hear about it and a larger auditorium had to be requisitioned. Diana told us some interesting facts about the film - that she herself makes a brief appearance in the party scene, that Julian Fellowes was already beginning to think about Downton Abbey during the making of this film. And I was amazed to learn that From Time to Time had had no publicity; was not on general release - just showing in village halls despite having a star cast: Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville and Timothy Spall.
But perhaps that will now all change after the showing on Boxing Day TV.

Thursday, 6 January 2011


The great thing about snowy settings is being able to make use of the white page. Here's a spread from Tom Finger; my own very white book.

An old favourite with a snowy setting is Ernest and Celestine, written and illustrated by Gabrielle Vincent and published in the UK by Julia MacRae Books in 1982 - again the white page is an important part of the design (though a little pink in this reproduction).

Whenever I see dark twigs set against a sunset while out on a winter walk, I'm reminded of The Winter Bear-

another magical story with a snowy setting; written by Ruth Craft, illustrated by EricK Blegvad and published in 1974 by William Collins.

Finally, a Scandinavian setting for The Fox and the Tomten, written by Astrid Lindgren,illustrated by Harald Wiberg and published in the UK in 1970 by Longman Young Books. 

I love this frame of the fox in the snow seen from the hens' view point.
So, instead of moaning about the snow and all the chaos it brings,now the UK is having colder winters, we should curl up in a chair in front of a warm fire and enjoy the magic of a snowy setting on a white page.