Leonard Malcolm Saville (21 February 1901 – 30 June 1982) was an English author best known for his Lone Pine series of children’s books, published between 1943 and 1978. In all, he produced more than ninety books, eighty-five of them for children.
Saville was born in Hastings, Sussex, and was educated at Richmond Hill School, in Richmond, Surrey. His working life began in 1917 at Oxford University Press, where he worked in book sales, then continued as a publicist with Cassell & Co. (now part of Orion Books; 1920–1922), Associated Press (1922–1936), and George Newnes (1936–1941). He was also the associate editor of My Garden magazine from 1946 until 1951, before taking over editorship of Sunny StoriesBritish children’s magazine intended to appeal to both boys and girls. It began as Sunny Stories for Little Folk in 1926, edited and written by Enid Blyton, although she was only credited as the editor. from Enid BlytonEnglish children's writer whose books have been among the world's best-sellers since the 1930s, selling more than 600 million copies. in 1954, when she left to set up her own magazine in direct competition.
Saville’s writing career began in 1937 with the publication of Amateur Acting and Producing for Beginners, which he wrote under the pseudonym of D. J. Desmond. His first children’s story, and the first of what would become his Lone Pine series of books, Mystery at Witchend, was released in 1943. Set in Shropshire, it was written when his children had been evacuated to the county from the family home in Hertfordshire. A further nineteen books followed in the Lone Pine series, the last one – Home to Witchend – published in 1978.
In the words of the biographer, Stephen F. Bigger, “All Saville’s work was pedagogic, its main themes being teaching about good and evil, the environment, and personal relationships.”
Saville married the schoolmaster’s daughter Dorothy May McCoy (1898–1987) at the parish church, Stroud Green, on 2 June 1926. Together they had four children between 1928 and 1935: Robin Prosper, Rosemary, Susan Jennifer, and Jeremy David. Saville’s first children’s novel, Mystery at Witchend, was dedicated “TWO Rs and TWO J’s”, the initials of his children. Saville died in St Helen’s Hospital, Hastings, Sussex, on 30 June 1982, survived by his wife and children; his ashes were buried in the garden of remembrance at St Thomas’s Church, Winchelsea.
Poynter, Elizabeth. You Girls Stay Here: Gender Roles in Popular British Children’s Adventure Fiction, 1930–70. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018.
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