Elfrida Vipont

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Elfrida Vipont was the pen name of Elfrida Vipont (Brown) Foulds (3 July 1902 – 14 March 1992),[1][2][3] a British author of children's books. She was also a schoolteacher and a prominent member of the Society of Friends (Quakers) in England.

Early life[edit]

Elfrida Vipont was born in Manchester in July 1902,[4] the youngest daughter of Edward Vipont Brown (1863–1955), a general practitioner[5] and Dorothy Brown (née Crowley) (1874–1968).[6] Her parents were Quakers and she had two siblings.[4]

She was educated at Manchester High School for Girls and The Mount School, York. She entered Manchester University to read History but withdrew to travel as a professional singer,[1][7] freelance writer and lecturer.

In 1926, Vipont married R. Percy Foulds, a research technologist. They had four daughters and she started her writing career during their early years.[4] She became a teacher and was Headmistress of the Quaker Evacuation School at Yealand Manor in Yealand Conyers, north Lancashire, during the Second World War.[2][8][9]

Service to Quakers[edit]

Vipont was a lifelong member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). She served on the Meeting for Sufferings of London Yearly Meeting (an executive committee) from 1939 to 1985;[4] from 1969 to 1974 she was its Clerk.[10][11] She also served on the Friends Service Council, the Friends Education Council, the Library Committee and the Friends Historical Society Executive Committee. She was also a long-serving member of the Ackworth School Committee. She also served on the Committee that arranged for Quakers' annual gathering, "Yearly Meeting", and assisting in the revision of the "Book of Discipline".[4]

Writing career[edit]

Vipont wrote "serious books" about Quakerism,[8] some under her married name E. V. Foulds. One was her first published book, Quakerism: An International Way of Life (1930).[2]

She used a man's pen name, Charles Vipont, to write adventure stories for boys (first in 1939); that was a common marketing device by Oxford University Press and other publishers of female authors.[12] The Heir of Craigs (Oxford, 1955) is a historical novel set in Britain and North America late in the 17th century. Nigel Craig, the son of an aristocratic family, "escapes" on adventure with a cousin. Along with "a band of steadfast and resourceful Quakers", they are shipwrecked in the New World and they meet hostile natives.[12]

"Elfrida Vipont" was also a pseudonym, of course. Under that name, she wrote about two dozen books for children (and other works), including short biographies of the authors Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Jane Austen (published by Hamish Hamilton, 1965 to 1977).

Her best-known books are The Lark in the Morn (1948) and The Lark on the Wing (1950), published by Oxford University Press. For the latter she won the annual Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book by a British subject.[13] The Lark books were five family stories following the musical career of Kit Haverard.

Vipont and the illustrator Raymond Briggs collaborated on a picture book for young children, The Elephant and the Bad Baby, published by Hamish Hamilton in 1969. Probably it is her most famous work;[1] by a wide margin it is the one most widely held in WorldCat participating libraries.[14] It features a baby who refuses to say please and goes romping through town on the back of an elephant while being chased by various townspeople. The Elephant and the Bad Baby is a "cumulative story" with a "poetic feel", a common effect drawn from the picture-book format of the text.[15]

A number of her books were published by Gazelle Books and Reindeer Books, Hamish Hamilton's imprints for younger children.[4][clarification needed]

Later life[edit]

She lived in the small Lancashire village of Yealand Conyers, where she was an active participant in community affairs.


Vipont's personal papers are at the John Rylands University Library of Manchester.[16]


  • Quakerism: An International Way of Life (1930), as E. V. Foulds[2]
  • Good Adventure: The Quest for Music in Britain (Manchester: J. Heywood, 1931), illustrated by Estella Canziani
  • Colin Writes to Friends House (Friends’ Book Centre, 1934; 2nd ed. revised, 1946)
  • Blow the Man Down ... (1939), as Charles Vipont, illus. Norman Hepple — published with "The fighting sailor turn'd peaceable Christian", the narrative of Thomas Lurting's conversion to Quaker Christianity, first printed in 1710[14]
  • The Lark in the Morn (Oxford, 1948), illus. T. R. Freeman ‡[17]
  • The Lark on the Wing (Oxford, 1950), illus. T. R. Freeman ‡[18]
  • A Lily among Thorns: some passages in the life of Margaret Fell of Swarthmoor Hall (Friends Home Service Committee, 1950)
  • Sparks among the Stubble (Oxford, 1950; FHSC, 1971, illus. Patricia M. Lambe —short stories[2]
  • The Birthplace of Quakerism: a handbook for the 1652 country (1952), as E. V. Foulds; 5th revised ed., Quaker Home Service, 1997)
  • Let Your Lives Speak: a key to Quaker experience (Wallingford, Pennsylvania: Pendle Hill, 1953; Pendle Hill pamphlets #71)[14]
  • The Story of Quakerism: through three centuries (1954; 2nd ed., London: Bannisdale Press, 1960; 3rd, 1977)
  • Arnold Rowntree: a life (Bannisdale Press, 1955) — about Arnold Stephenson Rowntree
  • The Family of Dowbiggins (Lutterworth Press, 1955), illus. T. R. Freeman •
  • The Heir of Craigs (Oxford, 1955), as Charles Vipont, illus. Tessa Theobold[2]
  • Living in the Kingdom (1955)
  • The High Way: an anthology (1957), as E. Vipont, compiler
  • The Secret of Orra (Basil Blackwell, 1957), with illustrations
  • The Spring of the Year (Oxford, 1957), illus. T. R. Freeman ‡
  • Bless This Day: a book of prayer for children (Harcourt, 1958), as E. Vipont, compiler; illus. Harold Jones[19]
  • More about Dowbiggins (1958); later A Win for Henry Conyers (Hamilton, 1968), illus. T.R. Freeman •
  • Ackworth School, from its foundation in 1779 to the introduction of co-education in 1946 (Lutterworth Press, 1959)
  • Henry Purcell and His Times (1959) – about Henry Purcell
  • Changes at Dowbiggins (1960); later, Boggarts and Dreams (1969)
  • Flowering Spring (1960) ‡
  • The Story of Christianity in Britain (Michael Joseph, 1960), illus. Gaynor Chapman
  • What about Religion? (Museum Press, 1961), illus. Peter Roberson
  • The Bridge: an anthology (1962), as E. Vipont, compiler
  • A Faith to Live By (1962)
  • Search for a Song (Oxford, 1962), illus. Peter Edwards
  • Some Christian Festivals: to which is appended a brief glossary of Christian terminology (London: Michael Joseph, 1963)
  • Larry Lopkins (Hamilton, 1965), illus. Pat Marriott
  • The Offcomers (1965), illus. Janet Duchesne
  • Rescue for Mittens (Hamilton, 1965), illus. Jane Paton
  • Stevie (Hamilton, 1965), illus. Raymond Briggs
  • Quakerism: a Faith to Live By (Bannisdale Press, 1966)
  • Terror by Night: a book of strange stories (1966)
  • Weaver of Dreams: the girlhood of Charlotte Brontë (Hamilton, 1966)
  • A Child of the Chapel Royal (University Press, 1967), illus. John Lawrence
  • The China Dog (Hamilton, 1967), illus. Constance Marshall
  • The Secret Passage (Hamilton, 1967), illus. Ian Ribbons
  • The Elephant and the Bad Baby (Hamilton, 1969), illus. Raymond Briggs
  • Michael and the Dogs (1969)
  • The Pavilion (Oxford, 1969), illus. Prudence Seward ‡[20]
  • Children of the Mayflower (New York: Franklin Watts, 1970), illus. Evadne Rowan[14]
  • Towards a High Attic: the early life of George Eliot (Hamilton, 1970)
  • Bed in Hell (Hamilton, 1974)
  • George Fox and the Valiant Sixty (Hamilton, 1975) – about the Quaker founder George Fox
  • A Little Bit of Ivory: a life of Jane Austen (Hamilton, 1977)
  • So Numerous a Family: 200 years of Quaker education at Ackworth, 1779–1979 (1979), by Vipont and Edward H. Milligan
  • The Candle of the Lord (1983)
  • Why Young Friends? (1987)
The Lark in the Morn (1948) inaugurated a series of five books (1948–1969), according to Collecting Books and Magazines.[2] Its first sequel, The Lark on the Wing (1950), was called "second of three" in a 1970 review by Kirkus.[18]
The Family of Dowbiggins (1955) inaugurated a series of three books (1955–1960), according to Collecting Books and Magazines.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Elfrida Vipont". The Wee Web: authors and illustrators archive. Retrieved 7 December 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Elfrida Vipont. Real Name: Elfrida Vipont Brown Foulds". 7 November 2010. Collecting Books and Magazines. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  3. ^ Date of death given in a Death Notice in The Friend 20 March 1992, p. 380.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Obituary (of Elfrida Vipont) by Mary S. and Edward H. Milligan, The Friend 15 May 1992, pp. 621–22.
  5. ^ "Extract from the reminiscences of Edward Vipont Brown (1863–1955)", The Friend, 10 August 2007.
  6. ^ Vipont, Elfrida (1985), "Rather odd people", A Quaker miscellany for Edward H. Milligan, edited by David Blamires, Jeremy Greenwood and Alex Kerr, published by David Blamires (1985) ISBN 0-9510152-1-4; pp. 67–73. Vipont recalls a Manchester childhood in old age.
  7. ^ "Recitals of the Week" (review), The Times 30 October 1925, p. 10, col. C. The review of Vipont is not entirely favourable.
  8. ^ a b "Recent Scholarship in Quaker History", Friends Historical Association, 2010. See the entry for Hartshorne, Susan Vipont (biography of Elfrida Vipont), page 14.
  9. ^ Yealand School. Waymarking.com.
  10. ^ A Quaker miscellany, p. 176.
  11. ^ As Clerk of "Sufferings", Vipont wrote to The Times concerning chemical weapons, published 6 April 1971, p. 17, col. A.
  12. ^ a b "Rare Signed Edition – Charles Vipont – The Heir of Craigs". Bookwhispers.com 12 August 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  13. ^ (Carnegie Winner 1950). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
  14. ^ a b c d "Vipont, Elfrida 1902–1992". WorldCat. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  15. ^ Berridge, Celia (1988). Bicknell, Treld Pelkey; Trotman, Felicity, eds. How to Write and Illustrate Children's Books and Get Them Published. Cincinnati, Ohio: North Light Books. p. 59. ISBN 0-89134-264-8. 
  16. ^ John Rylands University Library of Manchester: Elfrida Vipont collection[dead link]
  17. ^ "THE LARK IN THE MORN" by Elfrida Vipont". Kirkus Reviews 16 March 1970. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  18. ^ a b "THE LARK ON THE WING by Elfrida Vipont". Kirkus Reviews 16 March 1970. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  19. ^ "BLESS THIS DAY by Elfrida Vipont". Kirkus Reviews (no date). Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  20. ^ "THE PAVILION by Elfrida Vipont". Kirkus Reviews 16 March 1970. Retrieved 16 November 2012.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hartshorne, Susan Vipont. Elfrida : Elfrida Vipont Foulds 1902 to 1992. York [England]: Quacks Books. 2010. ISBN 9781904446262.

External links[edit]