Eleanor Farjeon: author of children’s stories, plays and poems

 

Explore – the use of imagination to create change – from new attitudes to whole new worlds

Discuss – the importance of developing imaginative skills alongside fact-based learning

Discover – your own creative skills (stories, plays, poems, drawing, design, music, dance, etc)

 

Subject Areas

English – Using children’s stories and poetry to explore writing through imagination

Geography – Emigration in the Victorian Age – father from New Zealand and mother from America

PSHE – Personal growth – from being a shy awkward child, educated at home, to developing an exciting and fulfilling social life and profession

Possible Topics

• Exploring Eleanor’s poetry and children’s stories

• Discussing family life, Eleanor’s unusual childhood and growing up in a literary family

• Home education – what did Eleanor gain and lose by not going to school

• Examining Eleanor’s relationships with her brothers and their impact on her life

• How to develop a vivid imagination and the art of writing stories at an early age

Suggested Activities

• Design a special attic room full of all the things you would like around you

• Design and write a Valentine Card for someone who is special to you

• Write a poem about imaginary people and places (or finish one by Eleanor Farjeon)

• Using a poem or a story as a starting point, make a drawing of imaginary people and places

Writing

Eleanor wrote her first complete poem (a valentine) at the age of 6. Can you finish one of her poems? She wrote one about cats, but you could make it about dogs or babies, or about a grandparent! It starts and ends:

Cats sleep

Anywhere,

Any table,

Any chair,

Anywhere!

They don’t care!

Cats sleep

Anywhere.

Can you rewrite the missing 12 lines in the middle? (From “Cats”, in The Children’s Bells)

Drawing

Can you draw a character from another of her poems? In “An Alphabet of Magic” the letter “W is for Witch”! The first verse goes like this:

I met a wizened woman

As I walked upon the Heath,

She had an old black bonnet

Her small eyes peeped beneath,

Her garments were so shabby

She couldn’t have been rich,

She hobbled with a crutchstick,

And I knew she was a Witch.

The remaining two verses contain a useful moral about being polite, which the teacher may wish to read to the class at the end of the exercise. Because the poem is out of print we are willing to copy it for any school wanting to choose this option. For copyright reasons, however, we have omitted the full text here.

Literary and Artistic Links

Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard by Eleanor Farjeon (1921)

A Nursery in the Nineties by Eleanor Farjeon (1935)

The Little Bookroom by Eleanor Farjeon (1955)

The Children’s Bells by Eleanor Farjeon (OUP, 1957)

Edward Thomas: the Last Four Years – Book One of the Memoirs by Eleanor Farjeon (1958)

Eleanor Farjeon’s “Room with a View” – an essay by Frances Claire Sayers in The Horn Book (the Journal of American Children’s libraries), Oct 1956 – see http://www.eldrbarry.net/rabb/farj/room.htm

Sources

Morning has Broken: a biography of Eleanor Farjeon by Annabel Farjeon (niece) (Julia MacRae, 1986)

Eleanor Farjeon: A Story Writer – see http://www.eldrbarry.net/rabb/farj/farj.htm

Article on Annabel Farjeon’s biography of her aunt – Ruth Gorb, Ham & High, 25 April 1986

Further Resources

Eleanor Farjeon’s Books ~ Stories ~ Verses ~ Plays

Cat Stevens singing “Morning has broken” from his album Teaser and the Firecat (Island records, 1971) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0TInLOJuUM

 

This page was last updated on April 30th, 2012.

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