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Michael Hand writes Tuesday, June 1, 2004 about how his father discovered The Dawnchild, written by Mr Irving's mother




The Dawnchild

I WAS trying to find information about the authoress Beryl Irving, whom I understand to have been your mother. I was wondering if she was the same Beryl Irving who wrote a children's book "The Dawnchild"?

My father has very fond memories of it from his childhood but lost his copy years ago. I have tried many secondhand bookshops to no avail. If there is no connection, I'm sorry to have taken your time, but if there is, it would be most interesting to know if there is any way in which i could obtain a copy for my father.

My father is in his 80s now and has mentioned "The Dawnchild" so many times and how he'd love to read it again. I will keep looking for a copy but in the meantime, if you can send the scanned text, that would be marvellous. I will give it to him on his birthday.

Good luck with your dream to republish the book. My brother had it read to him as a child and has always remembered it fondly. The only mention I found of it on the Internet was in an interview of Vivian French on the Jubilee Books website. She mentions it as a favourite childhood book and wonders if anyone else has read it.

Michael Hand

  Free download of The Dawnchild
Readers write about the book


THE DAWNCHILD by Beryl Irving was one of the great children's fantasies of the 1920s. Many visitors to this website have contacted us and reminisced wistfully about the book they had read in their childhood.  We now present an online edition of this book as a free download. Later we shall print a new edition including all the wonderful illustrations by Beryl Irving. [Download-page]


David Irving replies:

I ONLY just managed to obtain a copy of The Dawnchild three months ago -- it cost me £80 (around $150).

I have a dream to republish the book under our own Focal Point imprint. Our family has many of the original illustrations.

Yes, my mother wrote that book long before I was born, and it became a bestseller in England. Her typewriter was a Remington upright, the kind that you had to lift the carriage to see what you had typed. She passed it on to me when I was about six or seven, and I oiled it and got it working again and used it for the next fifteen years or so.

The Dawnchild created a new genre of mystical children's books. She was a great professional illustrator too, working for The Nursery World and the Radio Times -- perceptive readers of those old publications will find sketches of myself and my siblings when our age was measured in months rather than years.

The book had a heavily embossed, plum-red cover. The illustrations had a Ronald Searle quality. In recent years I have received several inquries about the book from older generation people who have fond memories of it, and it is now very hard to find a copy in the used book stores.

 © Focal Point 2004 David Irving