I have been debating how to approach this particular blog post for a while, choosing to ‘catch up’ on the two Carnegie Medal Winners that I had to visit the British Library to read – Visitors from London and The Story of a Valley. But now we are here, in front of A Grass Rope by William Mayne.
It was a promising start. I was not familiar with William Mayne before embarking on this project. His name kept popping up in my children’s literary criticism works from the 1960s and 1970s so I was excited at the prospect of discovering a great author (a prolific one at that, he wrote over 100 books for children) who would be new to me. Then I learnt that William Mayne was convicted in 2004 of sexual abuse of young girls, and by all accounts a highly predatory paedophile like Jimmy Saville at that. I had not yet read A Grass Rope by then, but I found any pleasure in the book had disappeared. I wasn’t sure if I should read it at all, but I decided to do so for the completeness of this project. I couldn’t spot any sexual or sexualised overtones in this particular book, thankfully, nonetheless, I have decided not to discuss the book on this blog. Other people might feel differently; Mark Skinner puts forward a different view about the moral issues around engaging with William Mayne’s oeuvre in his blogpost on Freaky Trigger: http://freakytrigger.co.uk/ft/2012/01/william-mayne-1928-2010-or-what-if-the-greatest-20th-century-childrens-author-were-to-present-us-with-an-intractable-moral-knot/ Though I couldn’t see any follow-up posts describing his ongoing engagement so maybe he had second thoughts too?
For myself, I swiftly moved on to Tom’s Midnight Garden, up next.