On a recent trip to Ireland, I was rooting around in my Mother’s house for something to read. I came upon a stash of old Bancroft Classics, the books I cut my teeth on. The Bancroft Classics were all hardcover abridged versions of tried and true favorites. Beyond one or two illustrations on the end-papers, it was all text. It was a step up in reading for a child who had up to this, had read only illustrated books. Now I must have started to read with illustrated books, like most kids, but have no memory of any titles. My first reading memory is of these books which I devoured. I surmise that these books so enthralled me that anything that went before is forgotten. I may have been as young as seven, certainly I was reading these at eight and nine. (My reading level was tested at school around about this time and I tested as “adult”. Several of us did, it wasn’t unusual in Ireland).
Obviously eight-year old me had excellent taste in adventure- do kids still read the classics? I do remember my mother taking me to the book store and asking me what I liked. The answer was obviously anything with swords, ships and adventurous kids.
I think the Musketeers was the first one I ever got- if I’m not mistaken my Dad brought it back from one of his forays to the Cheltenham Festival, along with Treasure Island. And the book below was brought for me by my mother’s cousin from America- imagine that, all the way from New York! That alone made it precious for a young boy. I suspect my mother may have told her of my burgeoning interest in the subject ’cause that book was spot on. I treasured it for years and it led me down all sorts of interesting paths.