Finally: the Uncle books are going to be republished as a complete series! See here: The Complete Uncle, by J.P. Martin & Quentin Blake by Marcus Gipps — Kickstarter.

The Lion Tower, a discussion group about the Uncle books, is now live on See below for how to join …

Long ago, a small boy got some wonderful books from the local library. Peopled by strange characters like the pompous but mostly 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 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 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. It was dedicated to R. N. Currey (1907-2001), Martin's son-in-law. As a schoolmaster at the Royal Grammar School, Colchester, Currey made the stories popular by reading them to his students. Currey, born in South Africa, was also a noted poet.
  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. “Uncle” and “Uncle Cleans Up” were reissued in a two-in-one bindup by Red Fox/Random House in July 2000. ISBN: 0-09-941141-5. This is now out of print, but copies are available at reasonable prices.
  12. “Uncle” was reissued in 2002 in paperback. ISBN: 0-09-943869-0.
  13. Secondhand copies are rare. I've heard that they routinely sell for £50-100. and 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.

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:

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

Or contact them through their web site,

Mailing List

I've set up Lion Tower, a discussion group on the Uncle books. To subscribe, send e-mail to To unsubscribe, send e-mail to To change your subscription information, or to find out more, visit the Lion Tower Group Information Page.

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Copyright © 02003–02013 Stewart C. Russell, Scarborough, Ontario.

Updated 27 March 02013