Updated 17 Dec 02001.

Fairly Big News! The Lion Tower, a discussion group about the Uncle books, is now live on yahoogroups.com. See below for how to join...

Huge News! The first two Uncle books have been reissued! See below for details...

Long ago, a small boy got some wonderful books from the local library. Peopled by strange characters like the benevolent elephant Uncle, his nemesis Beaver Hateman, Uncle's companion The Old Monkey, the skewer-throwing Hitmouse and the ingenious American Ira Smoothy, and set in twin strongholds, sumptuous Homeward and squalid Badfort, how could a little kid not be left with a sense of wonder?

Years passed, but the characters remained, reinforced by memories of Quentin Blake's great illustrations. The books are were long out of print, but I'm trying to compile some information to help people find them.

What I know about Uncle

  1. There are six books of Uncle stories, written by John Percival Martin (1879-1966), a Methodist preacher (according to The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature). He wrote the stories to amuse his four children.
  2. A more full biog can be found on the back of Uncle & the Battle for Badgertown:

    J. P. Martin was born in Scarborough, Yorkshire, and entered the Methodist ministry in 1902. For some years he was a missionary in South Africa, and he later served as a chaplain in Palestine in the First World War. Soon after the last war, he went into semi-retirement in the village of Timbercombe in Somerset, where he died in 1966.

    (From a posting by Jonathan Calder to uk.media.radio.archers on 15 October 2000.)
  3. The books were published in the UK by Jonathan Cape Ltd of London. In the USA they were published by Coward-McCann of New York.
  4. All the books were illustrated by the popular artist (and now UK Children's Laureate) Quentin Blake.
  5. The first book, "Uncle; stories" was published in 1964. Jonathan Cape reprinted it in 1965, 1967, 1968, 1974 and 1977. The Library of Congress Catalog number for the Coward-McCann edition is 66-13130.
    It has the amusing COPAC keywords of Elephants - Fiction.
  6. The second book, "Uncle cleans up; more Uncle stories" was published around 1965, and reprinted in 1967 and 1971. The Library of Congress Catalog number for the Coward-McCann first edition is 67-1413 AC r85.
    "Uncle cleans up" was also released in 1982 as a Sparrow edition, published by Arrow books.
  7. "Uncle and his Detective" was published by Cape in 1966, and reprinted in 1971 with ISBN 0450009491.
  8. "Uncle and the Treacle Trouble" was published by Cape in 1967.
  9. "Uncle & Claudius the Camel" was published by Cape in 1969. Its ISBN was 0224616439.
  10. "Uncle & the Battle for Badgertown" was published in 1973. Its ISBN was 022400851X.
  11. Secondhand copies are rare. I've heard that they routinely sell for £50-100. Bookfinder.com and Abebooks.com have had first editions of "Uncle" on offer at £200; eek! The world of first edition collectors is very strange.

Title and publishing details from COPAC.

If you can help add more information, please mail me. I wonder what made them disappear, after being popular enough to go to several printings?

Jonathan Cape Ltd still holds the rights to these books. If you would like to see the rest of the series republished, please write to:

Tom Maschler
Jonathan Cape Children's
Random House UK Limited
Random House
20 Vauxhall Bridge Road
London SW1V 2SA

Or contact them through their web site, www.randomhouse.co.uk

Good News! Tony Bannister may just have a ray of hope for us at his very graphical website: http://www.video-design.demon.co.uk/

Better News! A correspondent forwarded the following news from a Random House editor:

I am pleased to be able to tell you that we shall be reissuing UNCLE and UNCLE CLEANS UP in a paperback bindup this July called UNCLE STORIES. It will be priced £4.99 and will be available from most bookshops.

We would also like to reissue the other four stories at some point but this will depend on how well the first two are received later this year.

Uncle Stories: Cover Best News! UNCLE STORIES is now available from Amazon.co.uk and other suppliers. Book details:

Uncle Stories
by J. P. Martin, illustrated by Quentin Blake
Published 27 July 2000 by Red Fox
ISBN: 0-09-941141-5
400 pages, paperback, £4.99

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Stewart C. Russell, Kirkintilloch, Scotland.