Random Friday memory 3 – Digit Dick and others

Promised  last week! These go back to this time, or close:


That’s me with my sister Jeanette, who died in January 1952. I would guess this was taken at Auburn Street Sutherland between the late 1940s and 1950. I started school in 1949. I know that I could already read, and among the books in the house – mostly belonging to Jeanette – was a magnificent pop-up Cinderella like this:


I see it could be worth $90+ now! The illustrator was Roland Pym, who died in 2006 at the age of 95.

He produced set designs for Lohengrin at Covent Garden and Eugene Onegin in Paris; he painted murals for the Duke of Bedford at Woburn and for Lady Astor at Buckland Abbey. In later years he was perhaps most widely known for the striking black-and-white book illustrations that he produced for Edith Sitwell’s English Eccentrics, Nancy Mitford’s Pursuit of Love and Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, for which he also made colour plates.

Roland Pym was born on July 14 1910, the son of Sir Charles Pym, a professional soldier, landowner and chairman of Kent County Council. He was brought up at Foxwold, the family home at Brasted Chart, where he lived for most of his life.

Jeanette also had Leslie Rees, Karrawingi the Emu, which I do recall reading again and again. Rees was also the creator of Digit Dick:


I certainly remember that illustration. Perhaps being small myself I identified with the match-box boy!

Now I really do doubt that Leslie Rees was aware of the potential for double-entendre in his hero’s name! It passed me by too at the age of five or so.

Now there is even a Digit Dick website.

See Leslie Rees in The Dictionary of Sydney.

…Rees graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1927 and worked briefly for the State Education Department, before joining the West Australian newspaper as a cadet journalist in the port of Fremantle. In 1929 Rees won a scholarship to study in London and sailed to England on the RMS Orford. The following year he was joined by Coralie Clarke, and they travelled together on the Continent, and were married in St Pancras Registry Office on 19 September 1931. Rees sent regular contributions to the West Australian from London, but between 1930 and 1935 he was the chief drama critic of The Era and met many prominent writers, including Sean O’Casey, Henry Handel Richardson, Somerset Maugham, AA Milne, GK Chesterton, WB Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and C Day Lewis. In February 1935 he interviewed James Joyce in Paris….