Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Move Over Ladybirds...

Uncle Arthur's in da House!

Arthur S. Maxwell, aka Uncle Arthur, began writing these 'bedtime stories' in 1923. He was a Seventh Day Adventist and prolific author of over 1000 highly moralistic tales. 

Here he is with his grandchildren.

Annabel and I found these yesterday in an op-shop. Ninety-nine cents each and in perfect condition. They were either treasured, or never read - I'd put my money on the second option.

If you were trying to encourage your child to read (even a 70's child, which is when these volumes were published) you would not give her/him one of Uncle Arthur's books. Sleep inducing? No question. A page turner? No Way!

Fast forward forty years though, and these little books are giving us (well Annabel and I at least) so much more bang for the buck we paid. They are hilarious. A retro lover's dream come true - fashion, furniture, interiors, gardens, etc. These books have got it all! Yes, they're preachy (Uncle Arthur very nearly refers to himself as J.C. in at least one story!), politically incorrect and old-fashioned, but they're also a charming and lovely reminder of "the olden days" (that's how my girls refer to my childhood. Ha! I'm not that old!)

Anyway, as per usual I've written more than I intended (I hope I haven't lost you...) Here are some of my favourite pics from the books. No more words from me, Uncle Arthur's captions are sheer perfection (you'll see...)

from Robber in the House
(we love Bobby)

from Vic and the Vandals

from Lena and the Lizard
(this one cracks me up. every time.)

from Showing Off

from Dawn and the Desks

from Tell Tale Tiny

from When Victor Vanished
(including this one mostly because I like those chairs)

from How Amy Got Anointed
(we feel your pain Michael, bad hair days suck!)

I could've included heaps more - I might just have to do another tribute to Uncle Arthur down the track...

Until then:

and God bless x


  1. Those books are so funny. But, yet, they're not. They sound like they have some serious lessons to lay down. All those gang-hanging, show-offy, garden-watering tattle-tales ... I want more!

    PS I never believe anything anyone tells me about lizards. You just can't fall for that stuff.

  2. My family inherited a set of these when my Grandad (who was coincidentally called Arthur) passed away. Although ours had illustrated images not photos. I was old enough to know that they were a bit lame in their preachiness but I still liked looking at the 'olden day' pictures :)

    My favourite was the one about the boy and the hollow pie!

  3. The Lena one is a little disquieting. You weren't kidding when you said some of them were preachy. Yikes.

  4. Please, please put some more of these on. They're hilarious! I like the one with the boy and his train set. He's blatantly listening to the voices in his head... Emma x

  5. They are absolutely hilarious! Especially the expert "swinger"!!!!
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

  6. I found a few of these the other day in an op shop! They are rather quirky for now.
    Do you think there is a way to incorporate then into the retro cook off?

  7. I'd like the chairs behind the boy and his train set x

  8. Now I know why I turned out such a deviant - I never read Uncle Arthur as a child! So I've always passed them by in the op shops, and yes they always seem to be strangely in very good condition. Thanks to your wisdom I'll take a second look when I next spy ole Uncle Arthur!! S:)

  9. These are hilarious I have never heard of Uncle Arthur, I'm sure he was a miserable, moralistic old bugger, but the captions are retro comedy gold! xxxx

  10. I NEED these in my life! Thanks for sharing, he was obviously a man after my own heart with those captions. Well, maybe not. Lizards? Had she been talking to David Icke?

    Faith Hope and Charity Christmas Swap - Sign up now open!

  11. Oh my goodness - they are so brilliantly representative of the time! I'm not sure I would have read them when I was younger though and some of them are borderline creepy! Great find - but I wouldn't knock the Ladybirds off their pedestal!

  12. This are freaky but funny LOL

  13. More! manners! Please tell me more about the gang?

  14. Hilarious!.....I'm surely going to hell.
    Allison x

  15. Kathleen the swinger, classic.
    I cut up one of these books for gift tags, the illustrations throughout are lovely.

  16. My goodness...Bobby looks soo naughty!

    I have seen them around often, now if I see any in good nick I know where to send them...they are a little too creepy for me :)

  17. hee hee hee... that 'you'll have to break with the gang' picture!
    must place it on son's pillow.