Picture of author.

Antonia Forest (1915–2003)

Author of Autumn Term

14+ Works 1,559 Members 43 Reviews 10 Favorited

About the Author

Includes the names: Antona Forest, Antonia Forest

Image credit: Courtesy of Sue Sims.


Works by Antonia Forest

Autumn Term (1948) 293 copies
End of Term (1959) 160 copies
The Cricket Term (1974) 142 copies
The Attic Term (1976) 130 copies
The Ready-Made Family (1967) 125 copies
Peter's Room (1961) 122 copies
The Marlows and the Traitor (1953) 107 copies
Falconer's Lure (1957) 106 copies
The Thuggery Affair (1965) 104 copies
Run Away Home (1982) 94 copies
The Player's Boy (1970) 70 copies
The Players and the Rebels (1971) 53 copies
The Thursday Kidnapping (1963) 52 copies

Associated Works

Celebrating Antonia Forest (2008) — Contributor — 33 copies


Common Knowledge

Legal name
Rubinstein, Patricia Giulia Caulfield Kate
Date of death
London, England, UK
Places of residence
London, England, UK
Bournemouth, Dorset, England, UK
University College, London
South Hampstead High School
children's book author
girls' school story author
Stern, G B (friend)
Catholic Church
Short biography
Antonia Forest was the pen name of Patricia Giulia Caulfield Kate Rubinstein, born in London to an Irish mother and a father of Lithuanian descent. She was educated in London and started work on her first book for young people, Autumn Term, just after the end of World War II; it was published in 1948. She eventually wrote 10 novels featuring the Marlow family and the childrens' various adventures both at Kingscote School and at home, and a further two historical novels about their forebears, as well as The Thursday Kidnapping (1963), which is unrelated. She was a very private person and her identity was kept secret until after her death. Her books enjoy cult status and copies are eagerly sought-after today.



Covering one day—a Thursday, naturally—in the life of the four Ramsay children, this British children's novel from 1963 follows Ellen (AKA Len), Neil, Jamie and Bobbin as they set out to do the family shopping, with baby Bart—the child of Freddie and Marika, the Hungarian couple who also live in their house—in tow. A crisis ensues when said baby, left in his pram outside of the library by the impatient and careless Jamie, who was meant to be watching him, is taken by the Ramsays' neighbor, Kathy Fisher. What follows is a day of terrible panic, frantic searches, and extreme emotional distress for the four siblings, until finally the truth is revealed, and they go to confront Kathy...

I am not entirely sure why, but it has taken me quite a long while to read this book. It has been on my "currently reading" shelf since September 2021, and I have picked it up, started it, and then put it down, countless times. It's not that the book held no interest—the opening, in which we meet Ellen, and then Kathy and the Ramsay family are introduced, is engaging enough—but somehow I could never seem to proceed beyond the first few chapters. In any case, now that I have finally read it, I can say that it is not the equal of Antonio Forest's other books, but is still fairly engrossing. Forest does a good job capturing the emotional turmoil of her characters, who (unlike the reader) have no idea that Bart is mostly safe in Kathy's keeping. Kathy herself is quite the character. I'm not sure if we're meant to feel badly for her—Ellen clearly does, at some points—but she struck me as seriously damaged, psychologically speaking. Perhaps even psychopathic, from the way Forest described her thinking. The almost cold-blooded way she approached people, calculating how to make them like her, and then becoming enraged when they didn't, was very disturbing to read. I don't think this was intentional on the author's part, as I think she meant for the reader to think the character's flaws were owing to her unfortunate family life, but I came away with the impression of a very disturbed person.

In any case, leaving Kathy aside, I ended up enjoying The Thursday Kidnapping well enough, and am glad to have finally read it, as it was the last of Antonia Forest's thirteen children's novels I had yet to read. That said, I am not sure that I strongly recommend it, save to those who are fans of the author, and are (like me) completists.
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AbigailAdams26 | 2 other reviews | Sep 2, 2023 |
Nicholas Marlow, that runaway turned actor whose adventures as an apprentice to William Shakespeare were chronicled in Antonia Forest's The Player's Boy, returns in this second book, which picks up exactly where that previous volume left off. As Nicholas and the other Lord Chamberlain's players return to London, the young man continues in his friendship with Humphrey Danvers, a page in the service of the Earl of Southhampton. This friendship eventually involves Nicholas in the ill-fated rebellion of Lord Essex, as the sinister spymaster Robin Poley resurfaces, demanding that he inform on his friend. Determined not to betray Humphrey, Nicholas must also try to stay true to country and queen, discovering in the process that loyalty - whether to friend and family, to queen and country, or to God and church - is no simple thing...

Although published as two separate books, because Faber and Faber considered the story too long for child readers, Forest wrote The Player's Boy and The Players and the Rebels as one novel, something that becomes quite clear as the reader begins the second installment. Not only does the action continue on from exactly where it left off in the first volume, but there is also no real difference of tone or feeling, when it comes to the storytelling, or the depiction of the characters. Which is all to the good, in this reader's estimation, as both books are simply marvelous tales - immensely engrossing, emotional involving, ultimately thought-provoking. I read the Girls Gone By reprint edition of this, published in 2008 - the book was first published in 1971 - and I appreciated the introductory matter exploring the historical background and figures depicted in the story. Forest clearly did an amazing amount of research, before writing her tale, and the result is a story that feels both authentic to its historic period, and universally relevant, in its exploration of the human condition. I cam away wishing that Forest had had the time to write more historical work, as she clearly excelled at it. Highly recommended, to anyone who has read and enjoyed the earlier story about Nicholas and his adventures.
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AbigailAdams26 | 1 other review | Aug 15, 2021 |
Eleven-year-old Nicholas Marlow, an ancestor of the modern Marlow family, whose school and holiday adventures Antonia Forest chronicled over the course of ten books, runs away from home in this engaging work of historical fiction, set in the later days of Queen Elizabeth's rule. Dismayed to learn he is no longer welcome at Trennels, because his older brother is expecting a child and his sister-in-law doesn't wish to be bothered with him, and facing a terrible punishment at his grammar school for repeating a statement made to him by that notorious atheist, Kit Marlowe, Nicholas joins Kit on his journey to London. When this new friend is killed, he finds himself in the keeping of Marlowe's patron, Lord Southampton, and then eventually given over to one William Shakespeare, to be his player's boy. Over the course of several years, Nicholas becomes more experienced in the world of the theater, determining that being a player (i.e.: actor) is what he wants to do with his life...

Originally published in 1970, The Player's Boy is the first part of a story that Antonia Forest had intended to be one novel. The publisher felt the tale was too long for a single children's book however, and so the story was split, with the second half being published in 1971 as The Players and the Rebels. I read the 2006 reprint edition from Girls Gone By Publishers, which included introductory matter from Hilary Clare and Sue Sims - co-authors of The Encyclopaedia of Girls' School Stories - as well as Laura Hicks, editor of Celebrating Antonia Forest. The historical background, details about William Shakespeare, and discussion of London during Nicholas Marlow's time, was all quite interesting. The story itself was immensely engrossing, and I found Nicholas a sympathetic hero. All of the details about the world of the theatre - the parts, the costumes, the rehearsals, the theaters themselves - were fascinating, as were the historical events occurring in the background. The dawning of the Age of Exploration - Sir Walter Ralegh is one of Nicholas' heroes - and the conflict between Catholic and Protestant in this period both inform the story, and the episode in which Antony Merrick, an ancestor of Patrick Merrick in the books about the modern-day Marlow family, is hung and then drawn and quartered, presumably for the sin of being Catholic, and consorting with a priest, was terribly moving. So too was the discussion between Nicholas and Will, about the question of religion, and which creed was in the right. I was surprised at Forest's evenhandedness here, as I found her somewhat biased in End of Term. All in all, a wonderful work of historical fiction, one that has me eager to pick up the second installment, The Players and the Rebels, in which Nicholas apparently becomes inadvertently involved in the Earl of Essex's rebellion.
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AbigailAdams26 | 1 other review | Apr 8, 2021 |
This book rubbed me the wrong way at first. I thought it was silly to have two main characters in a boarding school book with FOUR older sisters (and two essentially off-screen brothers). One might have thought it would have been wiser to reserve a younger sister for future addition. Also, it annoyed me that EVERYONE had a freaky British nickname. I mean, there was no Balmy Fotheringay-Phipps, but STILL. Pick a name. Seriously, there was this huge expositional introduction of characters and plus you had to remember everyone's nutty nickname.

Also also, the cold-fishishness of the Marlow parents disturbed me. I was never certain if the parents and/or older siblings actually liked our protagonists.

That said..boy, am I annoyed that the sequels aren't in print.
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kateschmidt | 7 other reviews | Oct 20, 2018 |



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Tasha Kallin Illustrator
Laura Hicks Introduction
Sue Sims Introduction
Hilary Clare Introduction
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