Thursday, August 27, 2015

TheChildren of Green Knowe: my personal time machine

Memory is a fragile little flame that can easily be extinguished, says author Christopher William Hill, but rereading Mrs Oldknow in Lucy M Boston’s The Children of Green Knowe always takes him back to his own grandmother

Maggie Smith
Mrs Oldknow, played by Maggie Smith in the film adaptation of The Children of Green Knowe, which was renamed as From Time to Time. Photograph: PR
I never wanted to be a Christopher. It’s a perfectly decent sort of a name, but there’s no pizazz, no razzle-dazzle. People don’t stop in the street and whisper, “look, there goes a Christopher. Expect great things!” Columbus aside, Christopher isn’t a name to give the adventurous type. I went through a short-lived period of trying to convince the dinner ladies at my primary school to call me Kit (a snappier and more interesting version of Christopher), but it didn’t stick. In The Children of Green Knowe, Lucy M Boston gives her central character a hero’s name – he’s Toseland, known to his adored and adoring great-grandmother, Mrs Oldknow, as Tolly. Tolly is the name of the sort of boy who might – and will – see ghosts. 

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