Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Westerman Yarns Newsletter Issue 2

The second edition of The Westerman Yarns Newsletter has now been sent out to 'Friends'. If you have not received yours, please drop me an email.  If you would like to subscribe join Friends of The Westerman Yarns and receive a pdf copy of the newsletter, just follow the link in the right-hand column.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Westerman Exhibition

Westerman Yarns have been invited to display the Percy F. Westerman exhibition ‘Ripping Yarns’ and the Tale of the Missing Author by the WW1 Remembrance Centre at Fort Widley on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th November when the centre will offer free entry. 

This follows some Facebook comments and a letter in The News with criticism that the exhibition outlining the life and works of the prolific Portsmouth born children’s author had debuted at Havant Literary Festival in October and not in Portsmouth. 

I am very grateful to everyone at the WW1 Remembrance Centre for their kind invitation and for their support in ensuring that Percy Westerman and his Great War titles is a feature of their permanent display.

The exhibition is sponsored by J Edwards Funeral Directors (Bedhampton), Portsmouth Grammar School and Mercury Graphics of Havant.

Friday, October 18, 2013

News from The University of Worcester Research Collections

The University of Worcester Research Collections which includes the The Westerman Collection: The works of  Percy F. Westerman which has been an invaluable source of material for the annual Westerman Seminars has a new face.  Their new web page design is attractive and has an easy link to the Westerman Collection details and inventory.

The Alliance of Literary Societies

Despite all the things that I have said about following the words of Groucho Marx with his quote "I would never want to join a club that would have people like me as a member".  I am pleased to tell you that the Friends of The Westerman Yarns is now a member of the Alliance of Literary Societies (ALS). 

The ALS is the umbrella organisation, formed in 1973 for literary societies and groups in the UK.  Their aim is to provide support and advice on a variety of literary subjects, as well as promoting cooperation between member societies.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Winning the War of the Twitter Waves

I set up a Twitter account about two years ago, but had a number of issues with making good use of it.  The main one was it being hijacked by a number of people who used it to post inappropriate messages that appeared to have been sent by me. 

During the recent Westerman exhibition, I opened a new Twitter account to promote the exhibition and the related activities within the Havant Literary Festival.  I enjoyed this so much that I plan to keep using it. 

To find me, either click the link below or search on twitter for Percy F. Westerman.
Follow Westerman Yarns on Twitter

Coming Soon

I know that I have been neglecting the weblog recently, but in the words of the great John Lennon “Life is what happens when you’re doing other things.” Below are few ‘things’ that I am planning and will share with you very soon.

A review of the recent Westerman Yarns exhibition at the Havant Literary Festival

Details of the Westerman Seminar 2014.

The next edition of The Friends of the Westerman Yarns Newsletter.

Where you can see ‘Ripping Yarns’ and the Tale of the Forgotten Author - Plans to display the exhibition in other venues.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Havant Literary Festival 2013

‘Ripping Yarns’ and the Tale of the Forgotten Author, an exhibition at the Havant Literary Festival 2013.  This is an open invitation to attend the official opening of the first exhibition to celebrate the life and works of Percy F. Westerman.

The exhibition will be opened at 2pm by the Mayor of Havant in the Havant Library. 

The Westerman Yarns would like to thank all our sponsors, J. Edwards Funeral Directors (Bedhampton), Portsmouth Grammar School and Mercury Graphics for their generous support with this project.

Click the link for information of other Havant Literary Festival 2013 events and activities.

The Westerman Yarns events are:-

Ripping Yarns’ and the Tale of the Forgotten Author.  The exhibition will be open during normal library opening hours from 2pm Tuesday 1st October until Friday 11th October, Havant Library.

By Bike and Boat, Percy F. Westerman. Tickets £3.00, Wednesday 2nd October, Havant Library, 2pm -3pm: Nigel Gossop will talk about the local and regional connections in Percy’s journalism and story writing.

Ripping Yarns, The Life and Works of Percy F. Westerman. Tickets £3.00, Saturday 5th October, The Meridian Centre, 10.30am – 12pm:  Nigel Gossop presents an illustrated talk on the life of this Portsmouth born author of adventure books for children.

Westerman Goes to Hollywood. FREE Admission, Monday 7th October, The Meridian Centre, 11am – 12.30pm: A screening of the silent film made in 1937 of the book Haunted Harbour. Nigel Gossop will introduce and give an account of the story behind the story with an explanation of how the Warsaw Sea Scouts made the film having been instrumental in Percy F. Westerman writing the story.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Westerman Exhibition

The Westerman Yarns have been invited to stage an exhibition as part of the fifth Havant Literary Festival, a celebration of the written and spoken word.  The festival takes place during the first ten days of October.  Please watch the festival web site for details.

Sponsorship Invitation
As this is our first public exhibition we are keen to ensure a quality presentation and are seeking sponsorship for the production of twelve, full colour, exhibition panels.  This could be one sole sponsor or several sponsors contributing a share.  All sponsors will be invited to have their logo at the lower edge of each panel. For further information, please email

Join us for a special day in Wareham

At the Westerman Seminar in February this year we discussed the idea of taking the next seminar to Percy's beautiful home town of Wareham, for one year, to visit the site of ‘The Barge’ and the Redcliffe Yacht Club, founded by Percy F. Westerman; their first Commodore. 

I am pleased to inform you that Wareham Town Council have kindly agreed to allow us to hold the next Westerman Seminar in the Council Chamber on Saturday 15th February, 2014. 

Details of the programme are still being developed and we are still accepting ideas and suggestions, but I am really pleased to be taking the seminar to the place that Percy called ‘home’ for the last 40 years of his life.

On Friday 14th February The Friends of the Westerman Yarns will be presenting a Westerman exhibition/display in the Corn Exchange, Wareham (times tbc).

The Westerman Seminar will return to Portsmouth Grammar School in 2015.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A First Edition Out Now

The first edition of The Westerman Yarns Newsletter is now available as a pdf by subscribing to Friends of The Westerman Yarns.  The first edition includes an early rare complete story, The Prisoner of War - A Tale of Portchester Castle During the Napoleonic Wars (1908) by Percy F. Westerman and a review by James Mackenzie of To the Fore with the Tanks, plus news, letters and articles. 

Membership is free for the first year, so, if you haven't already joined, click on the link below.

Join The Friends of The Westerman Yarns

If you would like to contribute to the next edition of the newsletter for November '13. Please contact me at

Friday, March 1, 2013

Dust Wrapper Design Cards and Notelets

Greetings cards and packs of notelets featuring four evocative cover images from Percy Westerman’s novels are available from Percy’s old school. The cards are blank for your message. Every purchase benefits the school’s bursary fund. 

Click on the Portsmouth Grammar School link for more information.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Friends of Westerman Yarns

Friends of Westerman Yarns is a new initiative that has been developed through the annual Westerman Seminar’s. We initially aim to produce two newsletters a year and members are invited to submit articles, news items, letters, book information, finds, and reviews.

The newsletter; The Westerman Yarns, will have Westerman at its heart, but is open to other children’s literature related material that may appeal to members. Items published in the newsletter will not be posted on the blog for at least 12 months

Members will also receive advanced notice and priority booking for Westerman Yarns events.

There are no membership fees.

All newsletters will be sent by email as pdf files. However, if members wish to receive a paper copy, please send two, stamped, self-addressed A5 envelopes to cover a one year subscription to:

The Westerman Yarns
14 Court Close

Click here to join Friends of The Westerman Yarns

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Westerman Seminar 2013

The seminar at Portsmouth Grammar School on Saturday 16 November was a real departure from our previous programmes. We kicked off with an abridged performance/reading of the play of Captain Blundell’s Treasure by a talented group of students from Springfield School, Portsmouth who really captured the spirit of Westerman’s characters. After their performance they happily answered questions from the delegates about their perception and views of the play and the style of writing.

Steve Rudge showed examples of rare and unusual dust wrappers from his collection, looking at their introduction and development including some very unusual examples with advertising wrap-around’s that many of us had never seen before. I then gave out copies and discussed the story The Prisoner of War, written by Percy and included in a feature about him and his first book A Lad of Grit from a promotional paper printed by the company W. Pink and Sons Limited for circulation in the Portsmouth area at Christmas 1908.

The introduction of 'bring and buy' where delegates were invited to bring along spare books for sale was a great sucess and we will definately carry that through to the next seminar.  During the breaks there was plenty of time for networking and chat, and a few people have already offered ideas for the next seminar.

After lunch Greg Worwood discussed the use of dating Blackies annuals and periodicals using the production codes. These codes can also be used to track the order that books were published in any given year. I then shared the results of recent research including quotes, forewords, acknowledgements and press cuttings that are helping to build the Westerman story.

We closed the day with a presentation about the history and background to the rediscovered silent film of the Westerman book Haunted Harbour mentioned on the dust wrapper blurb of the 1936 book, followed by a screening of the film.

Our thanks to Portsmouth Grammar School for their continued support of the Westerman Seminar; The University of Worcester Research Archive for the loan of material from the Westerman Research Collection; The Media Archive for Central England, Brian Griffiths – Walsall Sea Scouts, Robert Crewdson and Greg Philpot for the Haunted Harbour film and information; Drama Students from Springfield School, Phelim Rowland and the loan of the script from The University of Worcester Research Collection for the performance of Captain Blundell’s Treasure; Greg Worwood and Steve Rudge for their presentations.

What a difference a day makes - The blue plaque unveiled

I never imagined that the installation and unveiling of a blue plaque would do so much towards raising the profile of Percy F. Westerman. The ceremony held at 55 Campbell Road, Southsea on a bitterly cold Friday afternoon, attracted around 60 guests and visitors, The News (regional paper) and a BBC South Today television crew, to witness the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth and children’s author, Michelle Magorian unveil the blue plaque in honour of Percy F. Westerman.

The plaque, unveiled on the 54th anniversary of his death, is on the house that was the Westerman family home from 1880 and is significant in the Percy F. Westerman story as the place he grew up, went to school, started his job as an Admiralty Clerk in Portsmouth Dockyard, met and courted the love of his life – his wife Florence, and most importantly, began his writing career, submitting features for the magazine ‘Cycling’.

After the unveiling we hosted a reception at the Portsmouth City Museum and took the opportunity to display a selection of books and photographs. The guest were very interested and surprised at the range and scope of the books and the attractive qualities of the dust wrapper artwork.

The children's author, Michelle Magorian was invited to  unveil the plaque after we learnt that she was born and spent time in her youth, at her home in Victoria Road North, just five minutes’ walk away from the Westerman home. Inviting a successful children’s author to unveil a plaque in honour of a successful children’s author from an earlier generation seemed the right thing to do.  We were delighted when she agreed, Michelle Magorian was, without any doubt, key to attracting the media and raising the profile of the event, and of course, Percy F. Westerman. We are very grateful for her kindness and support.

My gateful thanks to the Lord Mayor for taking part in the ceremony thereby giving the event ‘official’ recognition by the City of Portsmouth.

I must also thank the home owner for kindly allowing the plaque to be placed on the house and for allowing us access to documents essential in gathering the provenance needed, and to Diana Gregg for her help in deciphering those documents.

The plaque was unveiled on Friday 22nd February.

The link to the BBC South Today report:

The News - Portsmouth

Blue plaque (top)
Michelle Magorian with Nigel Gossop (centre)
Photographs courtesy of Maureen Walder