The Little Grey Men

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The Little Grey Men
First edition (UK)
Author BB
Illustrator Denys Watkins-Pitchford (the author)
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series The Little Grey Men[1]
Genre Children's fantasy novel
Publisher Eyre & Spottiswoode
Publication date
Media type Print (hardcover, paperback)
Pages 201 pp (first edition)
OCLC 752520061
LC Class PR6003.A2
Followed by Down the Bright Stream

The Little Grey Men: A story for the young in heart is a children's fantasy novel written by Denys Watkins-Pitchford under the nom de plume "BB" and illustrated by the author under his real name.[1] It was first published by Eyre & Spottiswoode in 1942 and it has been reissued several times.[2] Set in the English countryside, it features the adventures of four gnomes who may be the last of their race. At the same time it features the countryside during three seasons of the year.

Watkins-Pitchford won the 1942 Carnegie Medal recognising The Little Grey Men as the year's best children's book by a British subject.[3]

A sequel was published in 1948, Down the Bright Stream; later The Little Grey Men Go Down the Bright Stream (Methuen, 1977). Jointly they may be called the Little Grey Men series.[1]

The original novel was adapted for television in 1975.[4]

Plot summary[edit]

The last four gnomes in Great Britain live beside Folly Brook in Warwickshire; they are named after the flowers Baldmoney, Sneezewort, Dodder and Cloudberry. After Cloudberry goes exploring one day and does not return, the others make the tremendous decision to build a boat and set out to find him. This is the story of the gnomes' epic journey, set against the background of the English countryside, beginning in spring, continuing through summer, and concluding in autumn, when the first frosts are starting to arrive.

Literary significance and reception[edit]

This novel has been described as the most distinguished fantasy of the war years, a fantasy which sought to capture the beauty and wonder of an English year, a timely and timeless book. Through the choice of gnomes for the protagonists, the author was able to get closer to nature and show more effectively the hazards wild creatures face.[5] The authenticity of the natural history satisfied the preference of the Carnegie committee for realism over fantasy, and the book won the award for the most outstanding children's book of 1942.[3][6]

Television adaptation[edit]

In 1975 The Little Grey Men was adapted into a 10-part animated series, called Baldmoney, Sneezewort, Dodder and Cloudberry, by Anglia Television in the U.K.[4]


  1. ^ a b c BB at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 2012-09-10. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
  2. ^ "The Little Grey Men (1942)". FantasticFiction. Retrieved 2010-05-13.
  3. ^ a b (Carnegie Winner 1942). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-07-23.
  4. ^ a b "Baldmoney, Sneezewort, Dodder and Cloudberry". BFI Film & TV Database. British Film Institute. Retrieved 2010-05-13.
  5. ^ Marcus Crouch, Treasure Seekers and Borrowers: Children's Books in Britain 1900-1960, The Library Association, 1962, p. 92.
  6. ^ Keith Barker, In the Realms of Gold: The Story of the Carnegie Medal, Julia MacRae Books, 1986.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
We Couldn't Leave Dinah
Carnegie Medal recipient
Succeeded by
The Wind on the Moon