Thursday, 24 March 2016

Pamela Brown's Blue Door Theatre Series

Pamela Beatrice Brown (1924-1989) was just a teenager herself when she wrote her first book, The Swish of the Curtain, about a group of youngsters who set up their own theatre company, overcoming many challenges and discovering their own talents along the way. Published in 1941 during the Second World War, this book must have seemed a beacon of hope for many children struggling to envisage any kind of future.  As Geraldine Brennan writes in her review of the book in 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up, 'The story of goodwill, team spirit, and hard work succeeding in unlikely circumstances must have inspired young readers in 1941, when personal dreams and projects were necessarily on hold.' The popularity of the book resulted in a number of reprints as well as adaptations for radio and television and with the earnings from the book, the author was able to train as an actress and fulfill her own dreams of going on the stage, which seems rather fitting. 

She produced four sequels in the Blue Door Theatre Series, Maddy Alone (1945), Golden Pavements (1947), Blue Door Venture (1949) and Maddy Again (1956). All were published by Nelson and the first four books in the series illustrated by Newton Whittaker, with the last book being illustrated by Drake Brookshaw. The books follow the characters as they go off to drama school and eventually become professional actors, with two of the books focusing on the youngest member of the troupe, Maddy Fayne.

She wrote over twenty other books for children, including a play, The Children of Camp Fortuna (1949) and Louisa (1955), a fictional biography of Louisa May Alcott, plus many others with a theatrical theme in both contemporary and historical settings. Sometimes compared to Noel Streatfeild's Ballet Shoes Series, these books are equally likely to appeal to children with an interest in a life on the stage.

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