Helen Cresswell Week: My letter to Mrs. Cresswell, circa 1984

As a kid, I wrote only one fan letter. Yes, I devoured books and dearly loved many authors. But it was Helen Creswell I wrote to. And the response I got back was incredible – not only did I get a long, personal letter, but she may have also used my plot suggestion in another book.

Even more incredible now when I realize that at the time she wasn’t just the author of a funny series of obscure books … over in the UK she was all over the BBC at the time with shows based on her books and screenplays.

But she took the time to write me a wonderful letter.

A letter that has sadly been lost in the intervening 25 years. Although it was carefully kept inside one of my Bagthorpe books, it snuck off somewhere along the line. Cece claims it made it to this house, but if so where could it be?

But I remember a good bit of the letter.

 She talked about how pleased she was with my letter, which was more than just a run-of-the-mill fan letter. It must have been clear to her that I had really loved and studied those books. For one thing I included a floorplan or somesuch of the Bagthorpe’s house. She said that while she had never gone that far herself, it looked like I had gotten it about right.

I also asked her a question about Cousin Luke. So as to avoid any spoilers, I’ll put it this way: Did he really? And she wrote back that she regretted to say that, yes, he did. (If you’ve read Bagthorpes Unlimited, you may know what I’m referring to.)

Now here’s the really hazy part, especially hazy since I didn’t keep a copy of the letter I sent her. But she wrote that she liked my idea or that she saw it possibly working.

I think that my idea had been for us to finally get a good look inside The Knoll. And, yes, in a later book The Bagthorpes do visit The Knoll. That may not sound like much, especially if you don’t know what The Knoll is, but it’s a lot to me. Maybe, just maybe, I helped shaped the Bagthorpe Saga.

And what more could a young fan dream of when writing off to an author?

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