Jane Nissen Books' reissues are an invaluable service to a forgetful publishing world
Set up in the 1960s, a purple period for children's books, it went initially, though unofficially, to those who were, in modern parlance, "advocates" of children's books. They were rewarded for contributing to their promotion and the serious discussion about them. And they went to people who were not actually earning a living from them - in a way, the award was an "instead of ... "
But things have changed in the intervening decades, and this year the award has been given to Jane Nissen Books, a niche publishing company which brings back into print some of the undeservedly lost titles of the 20th century.
Asking around, she found that time and again, the same titles came up - a point borne out by the fact that TH White's Mistress Masham's Repose, one of her launch titles, is a favourite book of Anne Fine (who has written the preface) and also of Terry Pratchett. Her titles are an eclectic bunch: Eric Linklater's The Wind on the Moon and The Pirates in the Deep Green Sea; Arthur Ransome's Old Peter's Russian Tales, Eleanor and Herbert Farjeon's Kings and Queens; and, most recently and to my own particular delight, Catherine's Storr's Clever Polly and the Stupid Wolf, to name but a few. Her reissue of two lesser-known novels by Milly-Molly-Mandy author Joyce Lankester Brisley, Bunchy and Marigold in Grandmother's House caused an Amazon reviewer to write, "I think Jane Nissen Books should be designated a real, live Fairy Godmother, because, after treasuring from childhood my original copy of this book, I lost it and had thought that I'd never be able to lay my hands on another. Thank goodness it's been brought back!"