Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.


The Return of the Twelves (1962)

by Pauline Clarke

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
276496,522 (4.09)7
In his new home a young boy finds twelve old wooden soldiers with definite personalities and a fascinating history that once belonged to the famous Brontë children.
Recently added byCalion, blainehart, prengel90, KrisMugge
  1. 00
    Peter's Room by Antonia Forest (shaunie)
    shaunie: One of Forest's excellent Marlow family series in which the younger Marlows recreate the world of Gondal. Lots of fascinating incidental information about the Brontes.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 7 mentions

Showing 4 of 4
A young boy's discovery of twelve wooden soldiers that once belonged to the Brontë children leads to an exciting adventure. Awarded the 1962 Carnegie Medal for the outstanding children's book by an English author.
  wichitafriendsschool | Mar 25, 2016 |
Posted at:


As I read Justine Picardie’s new novel, Daphne, last weekend I found myself thinking again and again about Pauline Clarke’s 1963 Carnegie winning children's novel, The Twelve and the Genii. This was how I first became aware of the history of the Bronte children, of the adventures they wove, the stories they wrote about the set of soldiers Patrick Bronte brought home for his son, the soldiers that Branwell called the Twelves. In tiny hand-written volumes the four children sent the valiant Crackey and Tracky, Monkey and Cheeky, Bravey and Gravey, Sneaky and Stumps, Parry and Ross, the Duke of Wellington and the Patriarch, Butter Crashey, on voyages of exploration and discovery across the wide oceans to the land of Angria.
And I knew that I had to read again about the twentieth century child, eight year old Max, who discovers the soldiers in the attic of the Yorkshire house his family has just moved into and finds to his delight that they are far more than a set of wooden toys. Just as they lived for the Brontes so too they come to life for Max and begin again upon their boisterous and sometimes foolhardy exploits. They explore the Ashanti treasures brought home by one of Max’s ancestors and wage war on his chess set with marbles for cannon-balls. But word gets out that the soldiers that inspired the first lengthy Bronte works may have been found and the collectors begin to prowl. The Twelves themselves hear of the possibility that they may be taken to America and while Max is trying to think of ways to save them from this fate they take the matter in hand themselves and decide that they will make their way home; they will march to Haworth. Their journey is perilous and without the help of the Genii Maxii, and his sister, the Genii Janii and brother, the Genii Philippii they would surely fail, but this, as Branwell, the original Genii, has taught the Twelves years ago, is what the Genii are for, to guard and to guide and to give the gift of life.
And that is what makes this book a brilliant piece of literature. I argued yesterday that literature might be defined as a story that asks the reader to think beyond the plot and this novel does just that. It asks you to consider the power of genius to bring life to inanimate objects and abstract ideas in story, in art, in music; to mimic the very act of creation itself. Such is the power of genius to make things alive. I suppose, in a sense, it is a reflection on the nature of literature itself, where the characters about whom we read come off the page, take on a life of their own and live eternally in the minds and hearts of the reader.
The book also raises again the question of Branwell and of how a child of such promise could have descended into self-destruction. Max longs to know more about the Chief Genius who seems to have imbued each of the Twelves with something of his nature. The artfulness and ingenuity of Sneaky, the mischief of the midshipmen and, inevitably, the drunkenness of the hard-drinking Bravey. But it is the attributes that Branwell has bequeathed to Butter Crushey that Max concentrates on and which emphasise again the tragedy of that misty nineteenth century figure.
What about you, Butter? [Max asks] There must have been something of him in you! You’re so kind and dignified and calm and always able to arrange things, and you love the Twelves. And the chief thing about you, Butter, is that they all love you. And so do I. There must have been something in the Genius Brannii that was like you.
Serious lump in the throat time.
There is one copy of this novel left in the Birmingham Library system and I had to get them to get that out of storage for me, which is, I think, a disgrace. If you haven’t read it then go and demand that your libraries dig out their copies and curl up for an afternoon with a book that will make you feel glad to be alive and desperate to meet the Twelves yourselves.
3 vote ann163125 | Apr 4, 2008 |
Recommended by Joan Bodger for its Bronte connections.
  buriedinprint | Apr 8, 2013 |
Showing 4 of 4
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pauline Clarkeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bryson, BernardaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leslie, CecilIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
The Twelve and the Genii was published in the US as The Return of the Twelves
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

In his new home a young boy finds twelve old wooden soldiers with definite personalities and a fascinating history that once belonged to the famous Brontë children.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Beneath a floorboard in the old farmhouse into which his family has just moved, eight-year-old Max Morley discovers twelve time-worn wooden soldiers. Under his careful watch, the "Twelves" come to life, each possessing a name and a distinct personality. As Max soon learns, they share a history filled with incident and adventure -- all an imaginative legacy of the famous Brontës (Branwell, Charlotte, Emily, Anne), who were the soldiers' original owners.
Haiku summary

Current Discussions


Popular covers

Quick Links


Average: (4.09)
1.5 1
3 4
3.5 1
4 11
4.5 3
5 8

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 205,813,305 books! | Top bar: Always visible