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CHILDREN’S WRITERS
‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ must be one of the earliest rhymes we ever learn as children.
It surprises people to discover it was actually composed, rather than handed down in
folklore, and the author JANE TAYLOR (1783-1824) grew up in LAVENHAM.
Her father, Isaac Taylor, was a successful engraver who moved from London. The house,
Shilling Old Grange, now marked with a blue plaque, was large enough for his growing
family. Briefly the family moved next door into Arundel House, but when war with France
broke out in 1793, and the European market was closed to English engravers and printers,
Isaac Taylor faced ruin and was forced to move to a tiny house in Colchester. He trained all
six of his children as engravers, even the girls. C
By 1803, Jane and her sister Ann were writing verses for The Minor’s Pocket Book, and
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when the publishers wrote and offered payment in books or cash they responded
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enthusiastically, ‘Books good but cash better’. ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ was included in Rhymes
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for the Nursery
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(1806) and one of Jane’s hymns, ‘Lord I would own Thy Tender Care’, in
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Hymns for Infant Minds (1810), for which she also did the engravings, is still included in

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Hymns Ancient and Modern. In the Lavenham Guildhall the National Trust have a permanent

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exhibition on the Taylor family, including paintings, books and personal belongings.
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At the end of the nineteenth century in nearby Long Melford, BEATRIX POTTER (1866-
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1943) visited her cousins the Hyde Parkers at MELFORD HALL. She always brought with
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her a collection of small animals to draw and the Tower Room where she kept them can still
be seen in the house. The Jeremy Fisher illustrations were mainly drawn at the Melford Hall
fishponds, and she dedicated the book to her cousin, Stephanie Hyde Parker. There is a
special Beatrix Potter room in Melford Hall with many watercolours of the house and
gardens and originals of some of her books. She read her stories to her young relatives and
drew for them delightful sketches in the Visitor’s Book, also on show. The display includes
the soft toy which was the original Jemima Puddleduck and which, years later, Beatrix
Potter gave to Lady Ulla Hyde Parker when she visited her in the Lake District. Lady Ulla
wrote a memoir of ‘Cousin Beatrix’ about her friendship with this shy, reserved relative.
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The legends of the Green Children of WOOLPIT and the Wild Man of ORFORD were
originally chronicled by William of Newburgh and Ralph of Coggeshall in the thirteenth
century and have continued as part of our folklore ever since. KEVIN CROSSLEY-
HOLLAND wrote The Green Children in 1968 for younger readers and The Wildman,
illustrated by Charles Keeping, in 1976. He collected The Old Stories in 1997, an anthology
of ancient tales, fabulous beasts, ghosts and numbskulls from across the region.
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MARK BARTHOLOMEW combines both The Green Children and The Wild Man stories
in Whispers in the Woods. The story opens as ‘A hazy mist drifted lazily across the wide
Suffolk skyline and encircled the village of Woolpit with a ghostly embrace … then drifted on
upwards to the ancient woodlands which stood behind the Wolf Pits, silent and secret.’ In
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