Alison Uttley

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Alison Uttley
Alison Uttley.jpg
Born Alice Jane Taylor
(1884-12-17)17 December 1884
Cromford, Derbyshire, England
Died 7 May 1976(1976-05-07) (aged 91)
High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England[1]
Monuments Blue plaque
Residence 13 Higher Downs, Bowdon, Cheshire, England
Alma mater Manchester University
Hughes Hall, Cambridge
  • Teacher
  • Author
Notable work Little Grey Rabbit
Spouse(s) James Uttley (m. 1911; d. 1930)
Children 1
Awards Honorary Doctor of Letters, Manchester University

Alison Uttley (17 December 1884 – 7 May 1976), née Alice Jane Taylor, was a British writer of over 100 books. She is now best known for her children's series about Little Grey Rabbit, and Sam Pig.

Early life[edit]

Born in Cromford and brought up in rural Derbyshire, she was educated at the Lea School in Holloway and the Lady Manners School in Bakewell, where she developed a love for science which led to a scholarship to Manchester University to read physics. In 1906 she became the second woman honours graduate of the University.

After leaving university she trained as a teacher in Cambridge and in 1908 took up the post of physics teacher at Fulham Secondary School for Girls in West London. Three years later she married James Arthur Uttley. The Uttleys had one son, John Corin Taylor. James Uttley committed suicide by drowning in 1930, his health having been affected by his service in the First World War. John also killed himself, deliberately driving his car off a cliff in 1978.[2][3]

The Uttleys lived at Downs House, 13 Higher Downs, Bowdon, Cheshire from 1924 to 1938 which now has a blue plaque to signify the association.

Writing career[edit]

Alice began writing to support herself and her son financially after she was widowed. Her first books were a series of tales about animals, including Little Grey Rabbit, The Little Red Fox, Sam Pig and Hare. She later wrote for older children and adults, particularly focussing on rural topics, notably in The Country Child (1931), a fictionalized account of her childhood experiences at her family farm home, Castletop, near Cromford.

One of her most popular works is A Traveller in Time (1939). Based on the Babington Plot of Anthony Babington at Dethick, near her family home, this romance mixes dream and historical fact in a story about a twentieth-century girl who is transported to the 16th century, becoming involved in a plot to free Mary, Queen of Scots from nearby Wingfield Manor. Uttley later settled in Beaconsfield, in a house named Thackers after the house in the book. In January 1978 the BBC aired the 5-part series A Traveller in Time based on Uttley's story. It starred 15-year-old newcomer Sophie Thompson and then rising star Simon Gipps-Kent.

She disliked Enid Blyton, describing her as a boastful and a "vulgar, curled woman".[4]

Uttley was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree by Manchester University in 1970 in recognition of her literary work.

In 2009 her private diaries, covering the period 1932 to 1971, were published for the first time - edited by Professor Denis Judd who had previously written Uttley's biography.[5]




  • Moonshine and Magic (1932)
  • The Adventures of Peter and Judy in Bunnyland (1935)
  • Mustard, Pepper and Salt (1938)
  • High Meadows (1938)
  • A Traveller in Time (1939)
  • Cuckoo Cherry-Tree (1943)
  • Mrs Nimble and Mr Bumble (1944)
  • The Washerwoman’s Child: A Play on the Life and Stories of Hans Christian Andersen (1946)
  • John at the Old Farm (1960)
  • The Mouse, the Rabbit and the Little White Hen (1966)
  • Enchantment (1966)

Short Story Collections[edit]

  • Candlelight Tales (1936)
  • Nine Starlight Tales (1942)
  • Ten Candlelight Tales (selections from "Candlelight Tales") (1942)
  • The Spice Woman’s Basket and Other Tales (1944)
  • Some Moonshine Tales (1945)
  • The Weather Cock and Other Stories (1945)
  • John Barleycorn: Twelve Tales of Fairy and Magic (1948)
  • The Cobbler’s Shop and Other Tales (1950)
  • Magic in My Pocket: A Selection of Tales (1957)
  • The Little Knife Who Did All the Work: Twelve Tales of Magic (1962)
  • Lavender Shoes: Eight Tales of Enchantment (1970)


  • Fairy Tales (Edited by Kathleen Lines; 1975)
  • Stories for Christmas (Chosen by Kathleen Lines; 1977)
  • From Spring to Spring: Stories of the Four Seasons (Edited by Kathleen Lines; 1978)
  • Foxglove Tales (Edited by Lucy Meredith; 1984)

Memoirs and Essays[edit]

  • The Country Child (1931)
  • Ambush of Young Days (1937)
  • The Farm on the Hill (1941)
  • Country Hoard (1943)
  • Country Things (1946)
  • Carts and Candlesticks (1948)
  • Macduff (1950)
  • Plowmen’s Clocks (1952)
  • The Stuff of Dreams (1953)
  • Here’s a New Day (1956)
  • A Year in the Country (1957)
  • The Swans Fly Over (1959)
  • Something for Nothing (1960)
  • Wild Honey (1962)
  • Cuckoo in June (1964)
  • A Peck of Gold (1966)
  • The Button-Box and Other Essays (1968)
  • A Ten O’Clock Scholar and Other Essays (1970)
  • Secret Places and Other Essays (1972)
  • Country World: Memoirs of Childhood (Edited by Lucy Meredith; 1984)


  • Buckinghamshire (1950)
  • Recipes From an Old Farmhouse (1966)

As Editor[edit]

  • In Praise of Country Life: An Anthology (1949)

"Sam Pig" Books[edit]

  • Tales of the Four Pigs and Brock the Badger (1939)
  • The Adventures of Sam Pig (1940)
  • Sam Pig Goes to Market (1941)
  • Six Tales of Brock the Badger (1941)
  • Six Tales of Sam Pig (1941)
  • Six Tales of the Four Pigs (1941)
  • Sam Pig and Sally (1942)
  • Sam Pig at the Circus (1943)
  • Sam Pig in Trouble (1948)
  • Yours Ever, Sam Pig (1951)
  • Sam Pig and the Singing Gate (1955)
  • Sam Pig Goes to the Seaside (1960)
  • The Sam Pig Storybook (1965)

"Tim Rabbit" Books[edit]

  • The Adventures of no Ordinary Rabbit (1937)
  • Ten Tales of Tim Rabbit (1941)
  • Adventures of Tim Rabbit (1945)
  • Tim Rabbit and Company (1959)
  • Tim Rabbit’s Dozen (1964)

"Little Brown Mouse" Books[edit]

  • Snug and Serena Meet a Queen (1950)
  • Snug and Serena Pick Cowslips (1950)
  • Going to the Fair (1951)
  • Toad’s Castle (1951)
  • Mrs Mouse Spring-Cleans (1952)
  • Christmas at the Rose and Crown (1952)
  • The Gypsy Hedgehogs (1953)
  • Snug and the Chimney-Sweeper (1953)
  • The Mouse Telegrams (1955)
  • The Flower Show (1955)
  • Snug and the Silver Spoon (1957)
  • Mr Stoat Walks In (1957)
  • Snug and Serena Count Twelve (1959)
  • Snug and Serena Go to Town (1961)
  • The Brown Mouse Book: Magical Tales of Two Little Mice (1971)

"Little Red Fox" Books[edit]

  • Little Red Fox and the Wicked Uncle (1954)
  • Little Red Fox and Cinderella (1956)
  • Little Red Fox and the Magic Moon (1958)
  • Little Red Fox and the Unicorn (1962)
  • The Little Red Fox and the Big Tree (1968)

"Grey Rabbit" Books[edit]

  • The Squirrel, the Hare and the Little Grey Rabbit (1929)
  • How Little Grey Rabbit Got Back Her Tail (1930)
  • The Great Adventure of Hare (1931)
  • The Story of Fuzzypeg the Hedgehog (1932)
  • Squirrel Goes Skating (1934)
  • Wise Owl’s Story (1935)
  • Little Grey Rabbit’s Party (1936)
  • The Knot Squirrel Tied (1937)
  • Fuzzypeg Goes to School (1938)
  • Little Grey Rabbit's Christmas (1939)
  • My Little Grey Rabbit Painting Book (1940)
  • Moldy Warp the Mole (1940)
  • Hare Joins the Home Guard (1942)
  • Little Grey Rabbit's Washing-Day (1942)
  • Water-Rat’s Picnic (1943)
  • Little Grey Rabbit’s Birthday (1944)
  • The Speckledy Hen (1945)
  • Little Grey Rabbit to the Rescue (play; 1946)
  • Little Grey Rabbit and the Weasels (1947)
  • Little Grey Rabbit and the Wandering Hedgehog (1948)
  • Little Grey Rabbit Makes Lace (1950)
  • Hare and the Easter Eggs (1952)
  • Little Grey Rabbit’s Valentine (1953)
  • Little Grey Rabbit Goes to the Sea (1954)
  • Hare and Guy Fawkes (1956)
  • Little Grey Rabbit’s Paint-Box (1958)
  • Little Grey Rabbit Finds a Shoe (1960)
  • Little Grey Rabbit and the Circus (1961)
  • Three Little Grey Rabbit Plays ("The Grey Rabbit’s Hospital", "The Robber" and "A Christmas Story"; 1961)
  • Grey Rabbit’s May Day (1963)
  • Hare Goes Shopping (1965)
  • Little Grey Rabbit’s Pancake Day (1967)
  • Little Grey Rabbit Goes to the North Pole (1970)
  • Fuzzypeg’s Brother (1971)
  • Little Grey Rabbit’s Spring Cleaning Party (1972)
  • Little Grey Rabbit and the Snow-Baby (1973)
  • Hare and the Rainbow (1975)


External links[edit]