Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Obituary - Leila Berg 1917-2012: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Obituary - Leila Berg 1917-2012: News

Article excerpt

In the days when children's books featured mainly "angerless, joyless, lifeless conversation", author and editor Leila Berg set out on a passionate quest to change young people's reading experience. She believed the books available for children were unsuitable for those from more deprived homes or non-standard families, and that this alienated them from reading for pleasure. They depicted scenes such as the whole family sitting down "to have breakfast at a snowy damask-clothed table, all properly dressed and calm", she said.

So Mrs Berg began to write her own books for young readers, featuring scenes she knew were typical in Britain at the time: having fish and chips for supper; rummaging at jumble sales; playing the pools. Her controversial but popular "Nippers" series led to her receiving the Eleanor Farjeon Award in 1974 for services to children's literature.

Born in 1917, Leila Goller was the child of Russian immigrants and grew up in a Jewish neighbourhood in Salford. She described Manchester as "full of books and concerts and theatre and films", and she loved "loitering" in record and book shops, unable to buy but sampling what was on offer.

It was, however, not a perfect time. She had a difficult relationship with her doctor father; she said he never spoke to her until her mother left home and he needed help. Refusing to go to university, she also walked out of teacher training, but was awarded a distinction when she switched to a journalism course. Her first newspaper job was at the communist Daily Worker at the time of the Spanish Civil War, an uprising that claimed the lives of two of her boyfriends. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.