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Ivy Lilian Wallace (7 October 1915 – 13 March 2006) was a British author/illustrator, artist and actress, best known for writing the Pookie series and The Animal Shelf series of illustrated children's stories.
Born in Grimsby, she started drawing as a child with the encouragement of her parents, who recognised her talents and thought that she might become an artist. She later attended Harrogate Ladies College where she became well known for her drawings and playful poems. However, when she left school, Ivy joined Felixstowe Repertory theatre as an actress and when the Second World War broke out she joined the British film industry to make Ministry of Information films. Later in the War she joined the police and it was while working for them that she first thought of Pookie, the winged rabbit.
While working in a police station during the war, manning a switchboard, she doodled a picture of a fairy sitting on a toadstool with a little rabbit in front. She then decided that fairies were "two a penny". So she erased the fairy and kept the rabbit. She named him Pookie because he "had a little pookie face" and wrote his story. It began “This is the story of Pookie, a little white furry rabbit, with soft, floppity ears, big blue eyes and the most lovable rabbit smile in the world.”
Ivy illustrated her stories with delicate, detailed watercolour paintings that perfectly captured her evocative tales. In 1945, just after war ended, she was encouraged to find a publisher for her manuscript and visited William Collins Ltd in London without an appointment. She was turned away, crestfallen, but asked to leave her manuscript. A few weeks later she was contacted by William Hope Collins and asked to attend the Glasgow office where the Children's Books section was based. Borrowing some money from her brother to buy a new dress and a 'big hat' to make her appear more 'serious', she took the train north to Glasgow. She met with William Hope Collins in the (now demolished) Cathedral Street offices and not only did William accept the book he also fell in love with its author.
Although William was estranged from his then wife, Nancy (née Montague), with whom he had two children, their relationship met with approval. In 1950 Ivy and William were married and went to live near Biggar in the Scottish Borders. They had two daughters Heather (b.1952) and Cherry (b.1956).
Ivy wrote ten Pookie books as well as the highly successful The Animal Shelf series for young children and The Young Warrenders for older ones. For over 20 years, Ivy's beautiful books became a publishing phenomenon and were worldwide bestsellers. Translated into several languages, Pookie was read as far afield as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa. The stories were broadcast on Australian bush-radio in Pookie's Half-Hour and thousands of children attended Pookie rallies. Ivy also enjoyed a successful career as a writer-illustrator for Wm Collins & Sons and for other international publishers and in 1950 she created the first baby record book, ‘Baby Days’. In 1967, her husband died suddenly leaving Ivy heartbroken. She closed her studio, too consumed with grief to continue something that had meant so much to them both. Eventually in 1994, spurred by decades of letters and pleas from fans now grown up and wishing to share Pookie with their own children, Ivy and her daughters formed their own small publishing company, Pookie Productions Ltd, and republished her books, this time with full colour illustrations throughout.
The Animal Shelf became a popular TV series for CITV, animated by the award-winning Cosgrove Hall Films, and ran to 52 animated episodes. In 1997 Ivy was the subject of the BBC Scotland documentary “Pookie Flies Again”. An exhibition of her artwork launched at the Collins Gallery in Glasgow that same year and toured throughout the UK until 2000. Ivy retired at 85 and enjoyed spending time with her family and dogs and tending her beloved garden. She remained at her home near Biggar until 2002 when she moved to Auchlochan Garden Village where she passed away peacefully in her sleep at the ripe old age of 90 in 2006. Though once again out of print, the Pookie books are highly collectable; particularly the rare editions of the original ‘Pookie’ story.
- Pookie (1946)
- Pookie and the Gypsies (1947)
- Pookie Puts the World Right (1949)
- Pookie in Search of a Home (1951)
- Pookie believes in Santa Claus (1953)
- Pookie at the Seaside (1956)
- Pookie's Big Day (1958)
- Pookie and the Swallows (1961)
- Pookie in Wonderland (1963)
- Pookie and his Shop (1966)
Animal Shelf series
- The Animal Shelf (1948)
- Kinker visits the Animal Shelf (1948)
- Woeful and the Waspberries (1948)
- Getup Crusoe (1948)
- The Huge Adventure of Little Mut (1949)
- Gumpa and the Paint Box (1949)
- The Treasure Hunt (1951)
Young Warrenders series
- The Young Warrenders (1961)
- Thanks to Peculiar (1962)
- Strangers at Warrender's Halt (1963)
- The Snake Ring Mystery (1966)
- Baby Days (1950)
- The Kitty-poosies (1951)
- My Book of Kittens and Puppies
- "Ivy Wallace:Obituary". London: The Telegraph. 2006-04-01. Retrieved 27 February 2010.