The Owls of Olynn Belfry

This little gem of a  book arrived in the mail from my friend Ro, who lives in Nottingham, England, for my birthday. She restored the cover of this 1885 edition of “THE OWLS OF OLYNN BELFRY: A Tale for Children,” written by A. Y. D. and illustrated by Randolph Caldecott. It cost one shilling when it was published in London by Field & Tuer, The Leadenhall Press, E. C. What a remarkable book! Randolph’s exquisite illustrations include pictures of owls sleeping in the belfry, an ornithologist, children at a circus, owls attacking robbers, “aged inhabitants in the church tower,” baby owls, and an owl performing a minuet with a fairy.

From page three: “Even now two very young creatures, named Bunting and Snunting, are sitting in a hollow of the woodwork in the belfry.  They are covered with soft white down, and are sometimes snoring in a curious manner…”

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4 thoughts on “The Owls of Olynn Belfry

  1. Your reaction was much the same as mine on first encountering a book by this publisher (who also issued a mystery called “Mrs. Greet’s Story of the Golden Owl”). I was so captivated that I went on to research and write a book, “Field & Tuer, The Leadenhall Press,” recently published by Oak Knoll Press (US) and the British Library (UK). It was great fun to stumble upon someone as imaginative and witty as Andrew Tuer, whose publishing enterprise had never been properly chronicled or catalogued.

  2. Thanks for letting me know about your research, Matthew – I’ll definitely track down your book! The cover, which I’m looking at on your website, is lovely. Both covers, I should say (US & UK).
    I suspected that Field & Tuer, The Leadenhall Press was a little-known press and I’m interested to know more about Andrew Tuer. So glad you’ve brought him back to life. Sounds like he was a fan of owl stories!
    “Captivating” is definitely the word when it comes to “The Owls of Olynn Belfry”! Is “Mrs. Greet’s Story of the Golden Owl” a small book, like Olynn Belfry is? This book is only about 4 1/2″ wide by 5 1/2″ high.

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