Mystery at Witchend raises £215 at charity auction

Although he always maintained the story was written for all children everywhere, Mystery at Witchend was set against the backdrop of the Shropshire hill country where his own family were staying during part of the Second World War.  As he completed writing each chapter, he sent a copy to Shropshire where it was read to his own children.  When the book was finally published in October 1943, he dedicated the story ‘For Two Rs And Two Js’ – his four children: Robin, Rosemary, Jennifer and Jeremy.

A few months later, in February 1944, Mystery at Witchend was republished.  The quick sell-out of the first edition may in part have been due to the story being serialized on BBC Children’s Hour.  The second impression was printed in the same format but on slightly thinner paper.  It is a copy of this book (sadly without its dust wrapper) that has just been auctioned for charity.  But how did it come to be signed by the 2Rs and 2Js?

In February 1994, exactly fifty years after the book was first published, Mark O’Hanlon was approached by Robin Saville and asked to team up with Richard Walker to create a Malcolm Saville Society.  Mark took on responsibility for all the administrative tasks and then embarked on a ‘Grand Tour’ to meet members of Malcolm Saville’s family.  It was during these first encounters, meetings that were the start of long friendships with the Saville family, that he asked each of the Saville ‘children’ to sign two books: one was a first edition and the second was this early reprint of Mystery at Witchend.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the Malcolm Saville Society, Mark kindly donated the 1944 reprint of Mystery at Witchend so it could be auctioned for charity through eBay.  The idea behind the auction was to help raise funds for a children’s charity – the Children’s Society – to help give something to some of today’s children who may be untouched by the friendly ethos and family values expressed so consistently throughout Malcolm Saville’s stories.

The auction closed on Saturday evening and raised £215 from the sale of the book.  A big thank-you to everyone who took part in the bidding!

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