Noel Streatfeild

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Noel Streatfeild, date unknown

Mary Noel Streatfeild OBE (24 December 1895 –11 September 1986), was an English author, best known for children's books including the "Shoes" books, which were not a series. Random House, the U.S. publisher of the 1936 Ballet Shoes (1936), published some of Streatfeild's subsequent children's books using the word "Shoes" in their titles, to capitalize on the popularity of Ballet Shoes; thus Circus Shoes, Party Shoes (in Britain, Party Frock). She won the third annual Carnegie Medal for The Circus Is Coming, also published as Circus Shoes.[1] She was a member of the historic Streatfeild family.

Several of her novels have been adapted for film or television.


She was born in Sussex, England, the second of five[2][3] children of William Streatfeild, later the Bishop of Lewes. Her life is described in three semi-autobiographical novels: A Vicarage Family, Away from the Vicarage and Beyond the Vicarage. Noel was considered the "plain" sister in her family, but she shone in performances with her sisters for charity. Upon reaching adulthood she sought a career in theatre, and gained ten years of experience as an actress, working for the Charles Doran and Arthur Bourchier companies. Her familiarity with the stage was the basis for many of her popular books for children, which are often about children struggling with careers in the arts.

Her first children's book was Ballet Shoes, published by J. M. Dent in 1936. She recalled, "The story poured off my pen, more or less telling itself ... I distrusted what came easily and so despised the book."[4] It was a commended runner-up for the inaugural Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best British children's book,[5][a] and it launched a successful career in writing for children. For her third book and third "Shoes" novel, The Circus Is Coming (later published as Circus Shoes), she won the 1938 Carnegie Medal.[1]

Noel Streatfeild was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1983.


Aunt Clara was filmed in 1954 with Margaret Rutherford in the title role.

In 1968 London Weekend Television produced a six-episode serial of The Growing Summer, with Wendy Hiller as Aunt Dymphna. It was filmed in Bantry (Bantry House), in Ahakista and near Kilcrohane on the Sheep's Head Peninsula in County Cork, Republic of Ireland.

Thursday's Child was adapted for television by the BBC in 1972.

Ballet Shoes was made into a 6-episode television series by the BBC in 1975. In 2007 it was made into a feature-length film for BBC One (UK). A Granada production was adapted by the screenwriter Heidi Thomas and starred Emilia Fox as Sylvia Brown, Victoria Wood as Nana, Emma Watson as Pauline Fossil, Yasmin Paige as Petrova Fossil, Lucy Boynton as Posy Fossil and Richard Griffiths as Great Uncle Matthew.

Noel Streatfeild also wrote 12 romance novels under the pen name "Susan Scarlett".[6]

Allusions in other works[edit]

Noel Streatfeild was recommended by Meg Ryan's character in the 1998 film You've Got Mail.

Selected works[edit]

Children's fiction
  • Ballet Shoes (1936)
  • Tennis Shoes (1937)
  • The Circus Is Coming (1938), also published as Circus Shoes
  • The House in Cornwall (1940)
  • The Children of Primrose Lane (1941), also published as The Stranger in Primrose Lane
  • Curtain Up (1944), also published as Theater Shoes
  • Party Frock (1946), also published as Party Shoes
  • The Painted Garden (1949), significantly abridged and published in the U.S. as Movie Shoes
  • White Boots (1951), also published as Skating Shoes
  • The Fearless Treasure (1953)
  • The Bell Family (1954), also published as Family Shoes
  • Wintle's Wonders (1957), also published as Dancing Shoes
  • New Town (1961)
  • Apple Bough (1962), also published as Traveling Shoes
  • A Vicarage Family (1963)
  • The First Book of the Ballet (1963)
  • The Children on the Top Floor (1964)
  • Away from the Vicarage (1965)
  • The Growing Summer (1966), also published as The Magic Summer
  • Caldicott Place (1967), also published as The Family at Caldicott Place
  • The "Gemma" series (1968–69)
  • Thursday's Child (1970)
  • Beyond the Vicarage (1971)
  • Ballet Shoes for Anna (1972)
  • When the Siren Wailed (1974)
  • Far To Go (1976), a sequel to Thursday's Child
  • Meet the Maitlands (1978)
  • The Maitlands: All Change at Cuckley Place (1979; a sequel to the above)
Adult fiction
  • The Whicharts (1931)
  • Parson's Nine (1932)
  • Tops and Bottoms (1933)
  • A Shepherdess of Sheep (1934)
  • It Pays to Be Good (1936)
  • Caroline England (1937)
  • Luke (1939)
  • The Winter is Past (1940)
  • I Ordered a Table for Six (1942)
  • Myra Carroll (1944)
  • Saplings (1945)
  • Grass in Piccadilly (1947)
  • Mothering Sunday (1950)
  • Aunt Clara (1952), made into an Ealing Comedy film (1954)
  • Judith (1956)
  • The Silent Speaker (1961)
  • Growing up Gracefully (1955), illustrated by John Dugan
  • To the Garden of Delights (1960)

Ancestry and descendants[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Today there are usually eight books on the Carnegie shortlist. According to CCSU there were about 160 commended runners up for 1936 and the 49 years from 1954 to 2002, including Streatfeild and Howard Spring for 1936.


  1. ^ a b (Carnegie Winner 1938). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-08-15.
  2. ^ Eccleshare, Julia (2002). Beatrix Potter to Harry Potter. Great Britain: National Portrait Gallery Publications. p. 48. ISBN 1-85514-342-9. 
  3. ^ Harriet Jordan. "Noel Streatfeild's Life: Childhood". Retrieved 2009-08-12. 
  4. ^ Children's Literature: An Illustrated History, New York, Oxford University Press, 1995; p.220.
  5. ^ "Carnegie Medal Award". 2007(?). Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 2012-08-22.
  6. ^ Noel Streatfeild: Adult fiction

External links[edit]