The Family from One End Street
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (July 2007)|
Front cover of a recent edition
(Puffin Modern Classics, 2004)
|Series||One End Street|
|Genre||Children's realist novel|
|Pages||212 pp (first edition)|
|LC Class||PZ7.G1843 Fam|
|Followed by||Further Adventures of the Family from One End Street|
The Family from One End Street is a realistic English children's novel, written and illustrated by Eve Garnett and published by Frederick Muller in 1937. Set in a small Sussex town, it was considered innovative and groundbreaking for its portrayal of a working-class family in a genre dominated by middle-class stories. Yet it is "a classic story of life in a big, happy family."
Garnett and The Family won the second annual Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's outstanding children's book by a British subject. (It beat Tolkien's The Hobbit among others.) For the 70th anniversary of the Medal it was named one of the top ten winning works, selected by a panel to compose the ballot for a public election of the all-time favourite. It is regarded as a classic, having remained in print to the present day.
There were two sequels, Further Adventures of the Family from One End Street in 1956 and Holiday at the Dew Drop Inn in 1962, subtitled "A One End Street story" in the US Collectively the three novels are sometimes called the "One End Street" series.
Josiah Ruggles works for Otwell council as a dustman and his wife Rosie takes in washing. They have seven children, so life is hard, but they are a happy family.
CILIP, successor to the Library Association, assigns the subject tags "family large roisterous" and "family working class" in its online presentation of the Carnegie Medal winning books.
Lily Rose's ironing incident
Lily Rose comes home early after a pipe has burst at school, and being a Girl Guide, Lily Rose tries to help her mother by ironing some of the laundry her mother does for clients. Unfortunately, she uses a too-hot iron for a petticoat of artificial silk, which shrinks, and her mother is furious as the garment belonged to one of her most trusted customers, Mrs. Beaseley.
The next morning, Mrs. Ruggles takes Lily Rose to Mrs Beaseley's house to explain what has happened. Fortunately, Mrs. Beaseley is amused, as she has made similar mistakes when she was a child.
Kate has passed her 'eleven plus' examinations with flying colours and won a scholarship, but her parents are concerned, as they cannot afford the extra school expenses this will incur. Though initially the family is told it is not eligible for government funds Mr. Ruggles finds he has filled the scholarship paperwork out incorrectly: instead of seven children, he stated that he had only one child. After correcting the paperwork, they get additional funds to cover clothes. Mrs. Beaseley's cook points out to Mrs. Beasley that the Kate has won a scholarship but that the family will probably not be able to afford the school clothes, prompting Mrs Beasley to donate her niece's cast off clothes (useful as the government funds are paid in arrears).
The week before school opens, Kate is invited on an outing to the seaside by one of her school friends, and manages to lose her new school hat to the incoming tide. She cannot ask her family for another, as she wasn't supposed to be wearing it on the picnic, nor does she have enough money to buy one. Two local boys, Bill and his brother Ted, tell her where she can pick mushrooms and sell them for a shilling a pound.
Unfortunately, they are not wild mushrooms but cultivated ones, and the farmer catches Kate with a basket of his mushrooms. He asks her if she's stolen mushrooms before and she tearfully tells him how she found out about them. The farmer believes her, and is understanding enough to give her a basket of mushrooms to sell. After Kate goes back home, a surprise awaits her in a parcel: the hat she had lost at sea during the Salthaven (i.e. Newhaven, Sussex) outing has been recovered by a passing fisherman, who was able to return the hat as the school insisted that all school clothes have the name and address sewn inside.
Jim and the Black Hands
Jim, the older and more ambitious of the Ruggles twins, decides he wants an adventure of his own, and meets and joins a local gang. A twelve-year-old named Henry Oates heads this gang, whose members call themselves Black Hands. The gang meets every Saturday, in an old lime kiln or at the gasworks, where Henry's father, a foreman, is employed. Though they consider him too young to join and accuse him of spying, Jim begs for his acceptance.
The next Saturday, Jim embarks on a real adventure. As a hailstorm begins, he follows a friendly little dog into a drain pipe around a wharf’s barge-loading area for shelter. Once the pipe is loaded on the barge Jim climbs aboard, hides in the pipe and is carried off to the seaport Salthaven. Here he is still in the pipe when they are loaded directly from the barge into a waiting ship. Though the man on the ship angrily returns him to the land, the surrounding dock workers help him to get home, knowing that Mr Watkins is going back to his town.
Jim relates his story to Mr. Watkins about being a stowaway. To Jim's surprise, Watkins says he was also a gang member when he was young, and drives him off home. Here Jim finds that his twin has been on an equally big adventure.
John and the Lawrences
John, the younger twin, is a car fan and regularly visits Otwell Castle's car park, in the hope of finding visitors who will pay him to mind their car. A couple called the Lawrences arrive at the castle, and allow him to 'mind' their car. The same rainstorm which sends Jim into the pipe on the wharf for shelter catches John, and he climbs into the car for shelter.
When the Lawrences return, they drive away without checking the back seat, and John does not awaken until they've driven some miles. Instead of turning around and taking him home, they invite him to their son's birthday party, and promise to send a telegram to his family to let the Ruggles know that John is safe.
Aside from a slight mishap with the shower, John enjoys the party. There is a huge coffee-chocolate cake, and games. The Lawrences send John home on the bus with several parcels of leftover goodies from the festivities.
The Baby Show
William, the youngest Ruggles child, is entered in the Annual Baby Show, but the family is concerned as he is a late teether. He wins his age category (6–12 months), yet a slightly older competitor wins the Grand Challenge Cup as he has teeth. The Ruggles return home only to find that William now has a tooth!
Jo and the Majestic
Jo Ruggles Jr., a Mickey Mouse fan, spends his fourpence allowance at the local Majestic Theater to see cartoons. Though it is hard to come by so much money and it take a lot of saving. One week, he goes to the theatre, only to find that the first colour Micky Mouse film is due that Saturday, and the next is not due for a fortnight. On Saturday morning he sneaks inside the empty building and hides in the orchestra pit, where he soon falls asleep; several hours later, several cinema musicians find him. Jo explains to them why he sneaked in, and the men give him sixpence for the show, and a warning not to do it again.
Mr. Ruggles' discovery
Mr. Ruggles has always wanted to take his family to London for the great Cart-Horse Parade in Regent's Park, but cannot afford it. One week, he and his co-worker find an envelope with £41 in one of the dustbins on their route. They turn the money in to the police, and a week later, the author Mr.Short gives him a reward of £2, which he uses to take his family to the Cart-Horse Parade.
At Regent's Park
The Ruggles travel to Regent's Park, the venue for the Cart Horse Parade, where they meet the Mr Ruggles' brother, who has entered his horse in the competition. The horse, Bernard Shaw, takes first place, and the families climb into the cart to participate in the parade.
A Perfect Day ends
The Ruggles spend the afternoon at a "Posh" tea shop while Charlie is stabling his horse. They spend longer than they realise amidst the delights of ice cream sundaes and orchestra music, and must rush off to the train station. They make it just in time, and as the train pulls out, Mr. Ruggle's brother plays The End of a Perfect Day on his mouth organ.
The Family From One End Street was rejected as unsuitable by several other publishers before taken by Muller.
- ISBN 0-14-030007-4 (Puffin, UK, late 1980s reprint)
- "The family from One End street and some of their adventures" (London: Muller, 1939). Library of Congress Catalog Record. Retrieved 2012-09-08.
- (Carnegie Winner 1937). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-07-10.
- "70 Years Celebration: Anniversary Top Tens". The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-07-10.
|Carnegie Medal recipient
The Circus Is Coming