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Leon Garfield (1921–1996)

Author of Shakespeare Stories

78+ Works 3,814 Members 42 Reviews 6 Favorited

About the Author

Author Leon Garfield was born in Brighton, England on July 14, 1921. When World War II began, he stopped studying art and joined the British Army Medical Corps. While posted in Belgium, he met Vivien Alcock, who would later become his wife as well as a popular children's author. After the war, he show more worked as a biochemical laboratory technician until the 1960's when he became a full-time writer. He wrote more than thirty books for both children and adults and scripted Shakespeare: The Animated Tales for television. His second book, Devil-in-the-Fog won the first ever Guardian Award and was made into a television series. He also won the Carnegie Medal for The God Beneath the Sea, the Whitbread Award for John Diamond, and the Phoenix Award for Smith. His novel Black Jack was made into a full-length feature film and was the joint winner of the International Jury Award at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival. He died in London on June 2, 1996. (Bowker Author Biography) show less


Works by Leon Garfield

Shakespeare Stories (1985) 696 copies
Smith (1967) 518 copies
Shakespeare Stories II (1862) 255 copies
Black Jack (1968) 188 copies
Devil-in-the-Fog (1966) 150 copies
The God Beneath the Sea (1970) 147 copies
Jack Holborn (1964) 130 copies
John Diamond (1980) 126 copies
The Sound of Coaches (1974) 115 copies
Mister Corbett's Ghost (1969) 102 copies
The Golden Shadow (1973) 86 copies
The December Rose (1751) 78 copies
The Apprentices (1900) 70 copies
King Nimrod's Tower (1982) 59 copies
Fair's Fair (1981) 52 copies
The Ghost Downstairs (1972) 50 copies
The Pleasure Garden (1789) 45 copies
The Writing on the Wall (1983) 43 copies
The King in the Garden (1984) 39 copies
The Drummer Boy (1969) 36 copies
The Wedding Ghost (1985) 35 copies
Revolution! (Lions Tracks) (1975) 30 copies
The Empty Sleeve (1988) 27 copies
Bostock and Harris (1979) 27 copies
The Book Lovers (1976) 26 copies
Six Shakespeare Stories (1994) 24 copies
The Saracen Maid (1991) 17 copies
Guilt and Gingerbread (1984) 17 copies
The House of Cards (1982) 17 copies
The Stolen Watch (1988) 15 copies
The cloak (1976) 12 copies
The Confidence Man (1978) 12 copies
Hamlet (1992) 11 copies
Moss and Blister (1976) 11 copies
Young Nick and Jubilee (1989) 10 copies
Baker's dozen: A collection of stories (1973) — Editor — 6 copies
Mirror, Mirror (1976) 6 copies
The Boy and the Monkey (1969) 6 copies
The Lamplighter's Funeral (1976) 4 copies
The Fool (1977) 3 copies
Lucifer Wilkins (1973) 3 copies
Tom Titmarsh's Devil (1977) 3 copies
Sabre Tooth Sandwich; (1994) 3 copies
Rosy Starling (1977) 3 copies
Labour in Vain (1977) 2 copies
A Swag of Stories (1977) 2 copies
The Valentine (1977) 2 copies
Dumb Cake (1977) 2 copies
A Box Of Rogues (1972) 2 copies
The Captain's Watch (1972) 2 copies
The Enemy (1978) 1 copy
The Filthy Beast (1978) 1 copy

Associated Works

Beware! (2002) — Contributor — 231 copies
The Random House Book of Ghost Stories (1991) — Contributor — 135 copies
Scary! Stories That Will Make You Scream (1998) — Contributor — 84 copies
Is Anyone There? (1978) — Contributor — 27 copies
Fantasy Tales (1977) — Contributor — 23 copies
The Thorny Paradise: Writers on Writing for Children (1975) — Contributor — 15 copies
Guardian Angels (1987) — Contributor — 12 copies
Hundreds and Hundreds (1984) — Contributor — 8 copies


Common Knowledge



Richly comic and suitable for adults and older children. One instance of bad language.
wrichard | 3 other reviews | May 5, 2024 |
Having only recently re-read The Strange Affair of Adelaide Harris (in an ancient, falling-apart paperback), I was more than delighted to discover that there was a sequel I had never heard of, and that they had been published together in this beautiful hardcover edition.

Leon Garfield is a British writer whose books were first published in the 1970s and 1980s. What makes his books unique is their well-realised historical setting. They are mostly set in England in the late 1700s and very early 1800s. It’s delightful to see them reissued in handsome new illustrated editions by the New York Review of Books.

Although all of Garfield’s stories have splendid touches of humour, in the two novels collected here his intent is specifically a humorous one. Both of these stories feature the roguish pair of schoolboy friends Bostock and Harris, who are around 12 to 13 years old. Harris is the leader of the two, unscrupulous, curious and clever; Bostock his slightly dim-witted follower and admirer.

In The Strange Affair of Adelaide Harris, young Harris becomes fascinated by the stories he learns in his Ancient History class about the Spartans exposing their babies on mountainsides, and the legend of Romulus and Remus being suckled by a she-wolf. He decides to test this out by exposing his own baby sister Adelaide.

With Bostock’s always-eager help, they smuggle the baby out of Harris’ house and take her up to a nearby hill, where they deposit her on the grass in a declivity surrounded by bramble bushes. Then they conceal themselves to watch and await the arrival of some wild creature—a vixen, perhaps?—who will come and suckle the child.

Alas for their plans, the baby is stumbled upon instead by Tizzy Alexander, on her way to a tryst with Ralph Bunnion, the son of the school’s headmaster. Tizzy herself is the daughter of the school’s Arithmetic master. What follows is a mounting series of very funny consequences, literally a comedy of errors.

Tizzy spurns her young man and rushes back to the school with the baby in her arms. Her hot-blooded father demands to know what she was doing going to the trysting-place with Ralph. He demands a duel and to his horror is accepted. The baby Adelaide is despatched to a foundling home, and Bostock and Harris make increasingly desperate attempts to retrieve her while chaos reigns at Harris’ home once Adelaide’s disappearance is discovered. Needless to say, Harris does not confess to his part in any of these proceedings. We are introduced to the brooding, club-footed inquiry agent, Mr. Raven, who sets out to discover the truth of what has happened, an inquiry which draws in more and more of the people surrounding these events.

All of this is literally laugh-out-loud funny and hugely enjoyable.

The Night of the Comet, the sequel, has a less involved plot, but is still very amusing. Harris’ intrigues this time centre around acquiring Bostock’s father’s telescope, the better to see the upcoming passage of a comet. In return, Harris promises to secure the affections of his sister Mary, with whom Bostock has become hopelessly enamoured. Needless to say that Mary herself has not been consulted about this. Tangled into all of this is a pair of Irish roof-menders, one of whom is himself pursuing a romantic interest of his own, which appears equally hopeless. As usual, many unintended consequences ensue.

If you enjoy a light-hearted read, and if you’re not put off by the label of ‘children’s literature’, as I really don’t think you should be, I can heartily recommend this volume. And you should chase up Garfield’s other novels, all of which repay reading.
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davidrgrigg | Mar 23, 2024 |
A gruesome story, lit only occasionally by some elegant phrasing.
2wonderY | 1 other review | Feb 27, 2024 |
Mustygusher | Dec 19, 2022 |



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