My hero’s hero

Meg Rosoff and K M Peyton

There was no way I couldn’t go. It’s the most fascinating thing to find that your favourite author has a favourite author. Well, no. What I mean is finding that they behave just as giddily as the rest of us when they finally make contact with the person they admire.

When I first heard Meg Rosoff wax very lyrically about K M Peyton, my reaction was ‘who?’, but I seem to be alone in that. As I said the other day, when you’re my age you simply know everything there is to know about Kathleen Peyton and her horse books and her books on many other topics. They are your childhood. And now that I’ve read two of them (only another 70 or something to go!) I know that they would have been.

K M Peyton

So, when Meg not only met Kathleen, but rashly decided to invite her to her house, and then to ask many of her own admirers to witness this; how could I not want to go? Hence my trip south yesterday, for a day of many literary encounters, starting with Sally Gardner (who only refrained from meeting her friend Meg’s hero because she and I seem to be the only two people in the world not to have grown up with Flambards and the rest).

Flowers for K M Peyton

The 'staff'

Kate Agnew, David Fickling and Annie Eaton


Kathleen is so refreshingly different that she doesn’t even know what a blogger is, and why should she? She’s very brave, because she must have known she was in for lots of people flinging themselves at her, prostrating themselves at her feet and generally doing the ‘Beatles scream.’

The kitchen where Bookwitch was conceived is no more, and much as I mourn its passing, I have to say that the replacement facilitated Meg’s inviting quite so many KMP fans, and we were only in danger of expiring from the heat (London was wet, but very warm) as we munched our way through some of the best canapés I’ve come across in a long time, served by some unusually pleasant helpers. Meg had sensibly got the help of super efficient Corinne Gotch and it all worked like clockwork. (Except possibly for their debate as to who was going to open the door for me when I arrived… I heard that!)

I knew the guest list was full of lovely people, authors, publishers, agents, publicists, bookshop people and writers-about-children’s-books. And then there was me.

Meg climbed up on a chair and did her fan speech, starting with saying how surprised she’d been when she found Kathleen was still alive. And without climbing onto anything, Kathleen countered with thanks for her ‘sending off’, which she much preferred to a launch. At least this recognised things achieved, rather than making hopeful demands for things to come. She has written her last book, for which Meg was grateful, but only because there are so many still to read (and I think she mentioned the time she herself takes over writing her own books, which are slightly fewer than 70). Kathleen was very amusing in her thank you speech, remembering a young Terry Pratchett, who she had suspected might do well…

Listening to K M Peyton

David Fickling, Geraldine Brennan, Ian Beck and Lucy Coats

'Mr Rosoff'


Catherine Clarke and Graham Marks

Among the fans were Tabitha Suzuma (who used to write long letters to her favourite author, receiving long replies back), Keren David and Lucy Coats. Ian Beck was there, seemingly taking photographs with his chequebook, and I recognised Graham Marks, as I do every time, before I have to work out who he is, and that David Fickling was there. I queried why – being a boy – he had turned up and was informed he edits Kathleen’s books. Of course he does. Silly me. And Mrs F recommended her favourite K M Peyton book.

Speaking of books, there were some on display and we were allowed to take one home with us! So, now I have my own – signed – copy of Flambards (seeing as how I’ve been told I must read it.)

Blue, Meg’s lurcher, kept us company all evening. I’m surprised any dog would stay sane and quiet in such a human din. And the Eck made an appearance. He was slightly bigger than I had visualised, but otherwise just as I thought he’d be.

And as the party was at its best, the bookwitch slunk out the door to catch that famous 21.40 back home. The walk to the station was never six minutes (who dreamt that up??), but the 15 minutes there took me 20 on the return. And it was downhill.

Cow-hood, here I come!

(Apologies for any untruths told. I have discovered – via Wikipedia – that there were actually three K M Peyton books in translation before I was past the horse book stage. The next thing I know will be finding that I actually read them.)

Tabitha Suzuma


Thanking K M Peyton

19 responses to “My hero’s hero

  1. V. Kathryn Evans

    Am beyond jealous!!!! So so wish I could have made it but family needs and all that….a signed copy of Flambards?!!! My heart is aching….

  2. It was a great evening, and great of you to come, witch. Think both the Eck and my dog are more photogenic than I am. As it should be! Let me know when you’ve read Flambards.

  3. Mine too Kathy, sounds like it was fantastic. Congratulations to Meg and Corinne for organising it.

  4. A wonderful evening, and so inspiring to see how many writers, editors,librarians and booksellers loved and had been influenced by K M Peyton. Very interesting question about whether you are a Pennington girl or a Flambards girl – I’m the former (while loving Flambards too, of course)

  5. You should have been happy, had I been there I would have been snapping. Constantly. 🙂

  6. How lovely. I am deeply jealous. Nothing would have stopped me going other than tutoring an Arvon course in deepest Shropshire … But I owe so much to KMP, and she knows that. One of my books, THE DAMAGE DONE, is dedicated to her. What a brilliant idea, Meg – and lovely photos.

  7. Curiously, I remember Flambards from when I was 12, 13 or 14. They were a set of books that I constantly picked up but somehow never read. Possibly I was too bound up with Moby Dick and Robert A Heinlein at the time. Perhaps I should rectify that now…

  8. Oh Linda, you should have taken off for the evening, explaining you had better things to do…
    ‘Dad,’ maybe you should. The Resident IT Consultant could recall the books from his childhood, but felt they were for girls. Now, reading A Midsummer Night’s Death, I think he discovered a perfectly OK book, with some good climbing scenes in it.

  9. Pingback: KM Peyton | Meg Rosoff

  10. I, too, am SICK AS A PARROT to have had to miss this! Sounds just wonderful and thank you so much, Bookwitch for such a brilliant account and the photos too. I am now going to write to KMP at once! Meg, you, your house, your dog and your Eck look wonderful to me.

  11. I think maybe it’s time we all take turns to fill our houses with KMP fans and then invite her round to be mobbed. I believe Meg will rent out the dog.

  12. It was a FAB evening, and all the better for the unexpected encounter with the lovely Bookwitch (I should have expected it – she gets everywhere, does the BW!). Dear me, hadn’t realised my dress was quite so…well…spotty. Maybe I should be rented out as a dalmatian for the next KMP party – together with Meg’s lurcher.

  13. Dalmatians are nice. They are very ‘authory.’ And I loved your red coat/jacket that you wore on top of the spots. But the house was warm. (I always find that the pattern which looks good on a clothes hanger, doesn’t necessarily look good on me, seen from a distance. Come to think of it, not much looks good on me at any time, so there you are. Could be why I’m a recent convert to black.)

  14. Gosh, BW, you really do get around! Sounds like a totally wonderful evening! And I have to say to Meg, I love both Blue and Eck!

  15. Thanks for the nice comments about the food! I’m the cook. I can be contacted via my website

  16. Pingback: Canapes Party for 65 » One Pair of Hands

  17. Pingback: The Key to Flambards | Bookwitch

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