Inspirational people surround us at every turn. To celebrate some of the incredible women who continue to motivate me on my writing journey I have decided to post a Monday Muse – a look at the women/characters who are my artistic inspiration.
Last time I wrote about my love of the fictional character, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You can read that post HERE. Today, I’m devoting the Monday Muse to another of my childhood favourites, Mary Norton.
Best known for her children’s book, The Borrowers, Mary Norton was born in London on the 10th December 1903. She went to a convent school and later trained as an actress with the Old Vic Shakespeare Company. Mary moved to Portugal with her husband, Robert Norton, in 1927 and stayed here until the outbreak of World War II. When Robert joined the Navy, they moved to the United States along with her four children.
She wrote her books around her day job with the British Purchasing Commission, which was based in the United States. The Magic Bed-Knob was published in 1943, and Mary went on to write the sequel once she returned to London. Bonfires and Broomsticks was published in 1947. Most people will recognise these from the combined single volume that came out in 1957 that was later made into the successful film; Bed Knobs and Broomsticks (1971).
My favourite Mary Norton book has to be The Borrowers, published in 1952. It won her the Carnegie Medal for outstanding children’s fiction.
(My well-read copy from the 80s)
Although it was initially enjoyed by children of the fifties, Mary’s books would remain just as popular for many future generations. I vividly remember losing my Brownie hat when I was about eight years old and trying to explain to my mum that the Borrowers had taken it – she didn’t buy it! The make-believe life of tiny people living under the floorboards captivated every child. Maybe this is where my passion for a unique and mythological story originates?
I love finding out where the idea for a character began and it’s fascinating to discover that Pod, Homily, and Arrietty were created due to Mary being short sighted. She spent much of her time studying hedgerows, paths, and puddles and began to wonder how tiny human beings would cope with the trials of a small rodent or toad.
Mary went on to write four sequels, The Borrowers Afield (1955), The Borrowers Afloat (1959), The Borrowers Aloft (1961), and The Borrowers Avenged (1982).
Mary Norton died on 29th August 1992 in Devon, UK. Her books will ensure that she is remembered for many years to come.
Did you have a favourite Mary Norton book? Or perhaps you have another author that inspired you at a young age.