For the last few years, I have been searching for The Whimsical Piglet. Written by Hilda Boswell, published in London, England, in 1948, it was a favourite book from my childhood. I remembered that Septimus was so called because he was the seventh son of a seventh son and that he was musical.
Some childhood memories are surprisingly powerful, even when they are fragmentary. A wistful phrase or two from The Whimsical Piglet would occasionally dance on the edge of my memory: a house “tucked away amongst the hills;” the “music of the wind and the rain.” I regretted the loss of the book but didn’t ever expect to find a copy.
A few years ago, I realized that with the existence of Abebooks, BookFinder, Amazon, eBay, and so on, there was a good chance I might be able to find one. It took a couple of years before an entry showed up on Abebooks. I immediately sent off for it, hardly flinching at the exorbitant price for a book described as:
No date listed, probably 1948 therefore the First Edition (printed in accordance with economy standards). Original grey cloth boards with green titling to front, minus the dustwrapper … Black and white illustrations illuminate each page, plus 5 full colour plates. The boards are grubby with small tear top of the spine; rear hinge pulled but pages intact; neat inscription inside … page 35, closed tear and corner creased plus one other crease …
The condition didn’t matter. This might be my last chance to find the book.
It arrived earlier than I expected. Opening the package was exciting. The book was smaller than I’d remembered, but the grey cover and green titling were immediately familiar and the text and illustrations revived more of those half memories. I had forgotten the verse:
The seventh child of a seventh child
Is not the same as others;
He’s whimsical and odd at times,
And different from his brothers.
I had forgotten that “Septimus became famous throughout the countryside, even beyond the hills that encircled his little world, and even to the hills beyond those hills.”
And here I am, removed far beyond the hills where I grew up and removed by quite a few decades as well. How amazing that I can reach back in time and conjure up an artefact from my early life. What a magical time we live in.