Earlier this year, an in-service student of mine identified Pamela Brown’s The Swish of the Curtain (John Goodchild, 0 86391 057 2, £6.95), originally published in 1941, as her favourite book as a child. Several other members of the group – established teachers with a keen interest in children’s literature – instantly spoke up for it. ‘Like Noel Streatfeild only less posh,’ one of them commented. Of course, the serialisation for BBC Children’s Hour in 1944 did much for its popularity at the time … but doesn’t account for my own daughter’s enthusiasm some four decades later. She literally read her copy to pieces.
Pamela Brown was born in 1924 and began The Swish of the Curtain when she was only fourteen. She earned enough from the book to pay for her studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and went on to work as an actress under the name of Mela Brown. Later she joined the BBC where her work included producing the television version of Little Women. She wrote more than twenty books, among them a story-biography of Louisa M Alcott called Louisa, but most reflecting her passion for the theatre. It would be interesting to know how many youngsters she encouraged into a stage career as well as into the reading habit. She died on 26 January.