Honouring Alison Uttley
On 17 December 2018, a good crowd gathered in the Beaconsfield Town Hall garden to mark the birthday of author Alison Uttley, famous creator of Little Grey Rabbit, with the unveiling of a plaque in her honour.
Speaking on behalf of the Beaconsfield Society, which commissioned the plaque, Kari Dorme noted with regret that our town had few, if any, reminders of Alison Uttley, who lived here from 1938 to 1976. With this plaque, our neglect has been remedied.
Gathering in the Town Hall garden on a sunny winter afternoon, the audience included local people, Beaconsfield’s Mayor, Anita Cranmer, and other councillors, as well as representatives from Alison’s publishers, Templar Publishing, and the London book trade. Dick Smith our Town Crier, as ever resplendent in his costume, announced and introduced Kari Dorme.
Kari began by reminding her audience of the Beaconsfield’s Society mission to ‘celebrate the past, promote the present and influence the future’. Guided by this mission, over the last ten years the Society has raised awareness of many of Beaconsfield’s famous but forgotten former residents. Among those that have been promoted with literary festivals, large displays and plaques are Robert Frost, America’s premier poet, Enid Blyton and Terry Pratchett, as well as Alison Uttley.
Alison, whose charming ’Little Grey Rabbit’ stories made her world famous, was a prolific and successful writer of both children’s and adult books. In her lifetime she became a millionaire through her writings, as did her rival, Enid Blyton. By coincidence they both came to live in Beaconsfield in the same year, 1938.
Alison bought a house in Ellwood Road, which still stands, and lived there until her death in 1976 at the age of 92. She is buried in Penn churchyard, where her tombstone bears the simple inscription ‘A Spinner of Tales’. Although Alison’s fame faded in comparison to Enid Blyton’s, her books are still in print and still selling today. The Beaconsfield Society put on a special celebration of her life and work in summer 2017 and now she has been given equal recognition with Enid in the Town Hall garden.
Following Kari’s speech, our Town Crier announced and introduced the Mayor, who was invited to unveil the plaque with its charming image of Little Grey Rabbit. This she did, praising the Beaconsfield Society’s service to the community in celebrating and raising awareness of the town’s famous residents.
After the ceremony, everyone was invited to tea and coffee in the Town Hall Council chamber, where they sampled specially made, delicious Little Grey Rabbit biscuits, courtesy of Jungs the Bakers. The Beaconsfield Society put on a display on Alison Uttley’s life for all to view and Templar Publishing brought along their latest re-issue of a Little Grey Rabbit story, which sold quickly as a perfect Christmas present.
Committee member, The Beaconsfield Society