Thursday, May 31, 2012


Bev Mathias

In the kindly but competitive world of children's books, Bev was a quiet colossus rather than a star.

Not that she missed out on the limelight. The redoubtable Eileen Colwell was an early admirer of her storytelling, her talents as a broadcaster led to a six year reviewing stint on BBC Radio 1, and the sheer spread of her publications for both children and adults - on view at the Quaker Memorial Meeting in Wigtown on May 19th - puts many more pushy kid-lit contenders to shame. Somehow, with Bev, the limelight was always refined into the glow of a good job jobbed.

It was the same when she became Children's Officer at the National Book League (later Book Trust) and with her founding directorship of REACH (the National Advice Centre for Children with Reading Difficulties) which received the Eleanor Farjeon Award in 1986. Even after 'retiring' to her beloved Wigtown - Scotland's National Book Town - Bev's commitment didn't flag. She completed an overhaul of the local festival's data-base just before she died. Unlike McCavity, when there was hard but vital work to be done, Bev was always there.      

Not bad going, you may think, for someone who didn't move to Britain till she was forty. She was born and raised in Australia. This was the source, no doubt, of her drive, her grounded-ness, and her wonderful gift for friendship.        

Good on you, Bev. 

From Chris Powling  

In this photo, she is entertaining (mid 1980s) a group of children from
Clare School, Norwich at the Hungate Bookshop.

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