Monday, February 21, 2011

The Portsmouth Evening News - Obituary

It is 52 years ago today that Percy F Westerman passed away. Spare a thought today, for Percy and the joy that his books brought to so many children during his fifty year writing career.
This is the Portsmouth local paper obituary. You can also view The Times obituary by clicking on the February '09 Blog Archive.

Books for Boys
Writer of 170 books for boys – mostly about adventure at sea. Mr Percy F Westerman who has died at the age of 82, was a native of Portsmouth.

He was educated at Portsmouth Grammar School and in his youth was a clerk in the Dockyard. He married in 1900 and his wife was a former Miss Florence Wager of Portsmouth.

While still working in the Dockyard, he began writing about nautical topics, but his first book for boys “A Lad O’ Grit” was not published until 1908. It was inspired by the Boy Scout movement which was founded by Lord Baden-Powell in that year.

Mr Westerman became interested in Sea Scouting, and many of his books had Sea Scouts has their heroes.

So successful were his early books that he resigned his Admiralty appointment in 1911 to become a full-time writer. For many years he lived on a houseboat on the River Frome at Wareham, Dorset. He never gave up writing and his latest book is due to be published in May. His output, up to the last three years, was between three and five books a year and sales of his books total 1,599,000.

In World War I, he was for a time employed on coast duties with the Royal Navy, but later held a commission in the Royal Flying Corps. In World War II he did valuable work for the Home Guard in Dorset.

The Portsmouth Evening News, Friday 27 February 1959.

The First 'Westerman' Seminar

Although the weather in Portsmouth was wet, overcast and gloomy on Saturday 19 February, 2011 the atmosphere inside Portsmouth Grammar School was warm, bright and lively because this was the very first Westerman Seminar. This was a truly memorable day for me and I would like to thank everyone who attended for their enthusiasm , interest and passion in support of this event.

From a very personal point of view, I must say, how pleased I was to be able to put faces to all of the people that I have been in touch with through The Westerman Yarns weblog for the past few years. I was also touched by the kind thoughts and best wishes from those who were unable to attend for variety of reasons including a few that could not attend because it was a bit too far to travel for just one day - Australia, New Zealand, Los Angeles.

On behalf of all the delegates I would like to thank Portsmouth Grammar School for their kindness and generosity in allowing The Westerman Seminar the use of the school and facilities– special thanks to David, the Caretaker. Thanks to all of the guest speakers, James Priory - PGS Headmaster, John Sadden - PGS Archivist, Dennis Butts – Author and, in her absence Dr Rachel Johnson – Research Librarian at Worcester University (sadly Rachel was unwell, but with the aid of modern technology delivered a very interesting paper). Apologies to everyone for the techno failure (well done Microsoft) at the start of my presentation, but thanks to James Priory and Steve Rudge for the diversion – I don’t think anyone noticed.

I am very grateful to Dennis for bringing the very special copy of ‘A Lad of Grit’ to the seminar and to Steve Rudge for such an impressive display of beautiful Westerman books. A special thanks also to Dr Rachel Johnson and the University of Worcester Special Collections for the loan of some items from The Westerman Collection.

The programme was carefully fitted around numerous refreshment breaks to allow people to meet, network and consume plenty of tea and cakes. So, thank you to my small army of volunteers; Jennie, Lyn and John, plus, my very patient wife, Wendy.

Thanks to everyone who helped in the promotion of the event. A full list of organisations who assisted in the promotion of the event will appear in the ‘links’ when I get a moment..

All that remains to say is “book early for the next year”.

The Picture: Nigel Gossop (left) and Dennis Butts (right)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A very special Flying Submarine

This really spectacular book cover illustration is sadly, anonymous. The book is published by The Musson Book Company Limited of Toronto under the strap line ‘Venture’ Books for Boys and priced at $1.25, which may give an indication of a publication date (at a guess – 1950’s). Other authors in the series include C. M. Bennett and Captain W. E. Johns.

Percy is now on Facebook

Percy F Westerman

Promote your Page too

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Westerman Seminar Programme

The Westerman Seminar
Saturday 19 February, 2011
10.00am - 4.00pm

The Portsmouth Grammar School
High Street

For tickets call 023 92 37 55 94


1000hrs – 1020hrs: Registration, meet and greet (tea and coffee).

1020hrs – 1030hrs: Welcome message from the Headmaster of Portsmouth
Grammar School, James Priory and Introduction to the seminar
from Nigel Gossop.

1030hrs – 1115hrs: Nigel Gossop – ‘The story so far’ – What we know about
Percy F. Westerman.

1115hrs – 1130hrs: Break (tea and coffee).

1130hrs – 1230hrs: John Sadden – PGS Archive and Collection –
This talk will finish with a tour of the ‘Upper Junior School’ which once contained the whole Grammar School.

1245hrs – 1345hrs: Lunch (Buffet).
*an opportunity to view the collection of Westerman
books and related material on loan to the seminar.

1345hrs – 1430hrs: Dennis Butts – Meeting the Major – Recollections of
conversations with John F.C. Westerman.

1430hrs – 1445hrs: Break (more tea and coffee).

1445hrs – 1530hrs: Dr Rachel Johnson – ‘Life’s all a risk’: an introduction to
three unpublished manuscripts by Percy F. Westerman.

1530hrs – 1600hrs: Nigel Gossop - A review of the day.

You are welcome to stay for a while after the close. Tea and Coffee will be available.

*For the ‘Westerman’ books and related material on display at the seminar, I would like to thank:-
• Portsmouth Grammar School and John Sadden, PGS Archivist
• Worcester University Research Collections and Dr Rachel Johnson, Research Librarian
• Dennis Butts
• Steve Rudge
• my wife Wendy for being so understanding with my ‘Westerman’ obsession

Copies of ‘Children’s Literature and Social Change’ by Dennis Butts.
The Lutterworth Press will be available during the afternoon break, priced at £25.00

Disclaimer Programme details are correct at the time of printing. All details of programme and times may be subject to change without notice.