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To buy Letters from Manchuria go to www.littleknollbookshop.co.uk

Letters from Manchuria

The story of Marion Young Missionary in Japanese-occupied China

edited by

Neil T. Sinclair

ISBN: 978-0-9935078-1-6

In 1935 Marion Young arrived in China and for the next six years she wrote weekly letters home to her parents in Ireland. Her letters give a vivid picture of life in the market town of Faku and also of the villages in Inner Mongolia which Marion visited as part of her mission work.

The letters and photos were passed down to Marion’s daughter, Helen, and son-in-law, Neil, as the ‘family historians’. When they began to look through them they realised the insight they gave to being a missionary in Manchuria (named ‘Manchukuo’ by the Japanese) and to life there in the late 1930s.

     Retirement gave Helen and Neil the time to sort out the hundreds of letters, summarise the contents and make difficult decisions about which of the many interesting passages should be included in this book.

    Once this was done, Helen read out the selected passages while Neil typed into the computer. They then chose the 156 photographs that illustrate Marion’s story.


Helen and Neil Sinclair at work


A missionary’s pay was tiny, but Marion afforded a few gifts for her family. This embroidered peacock is part of the design on a silk jacket which she brought back from China.



Marion with her classmates circa 1917


A newspaper article announcing Marion’s departure for China

Marion Young was born in 1911, the eldest of eight children, and grew up in Galway during the turbulent times surrounding Irish independence.

     A childhood friend remembered, ‘even before she was ten, Marion was going to be a missionary. It was not a day-dream, but an intention; she had no need for day-dreams.’

     When in 1935 Marion was appointed to China by the Irish Presbyterian Church’s Women’s Association for Foreign Mission, she wrote to her parents, ‘Am I happy or am I happy? Whoopee! Whoopee!! Whoopee!!’ This was the start of a long correspondence. 

From China Marion recalled the ‘smell of fresh cut hay, the Mournes with gorse blazing gold, the smoke lying over Milford in a hollow on a summer evening seen from Allan’s lane’, and how it ‘cut out completely the spits and smells around me’.

     She wrote about two wee boys, Ping An, the cook’s son, and his friend, En Fu, in winter clothes – ‘the quickest way to scatter them is to look up – they flee like two little fat bundles with feet stuck on the bottom’.

    Later she started a letter home with the words, ‘Christmas morning – grey, dank – wakened by running feet outside my window’ – the start of her account about how she and a colleague rescued the cook’s daughter-in-law from the bottom of the well. 


Little Peace and Happy Grace at play


Marion and Wang Ssu Wen, evangelist, en route for Chin chia Tiu with baggage bearer



Marion and Ssu Wen sat on a k’ang

Ever present was the oppression of Japanese rule. In her letters Marion used ‘coded’ words, such as ‘Black and Tans’, to avoid the attention of the censors, but when able to send letters with fellow missionaries who were returning home, she wrote clearly about the torture of Chinese citizens, remarking, ‘They treat folk a bit more kindly before freeing them, to give the marks of beating or torture a chance to clear up – isn’t it a bright thought?’

    As Douglas Alexander writes in the foreword, ‘what emerges is the deep respect and indeed fascination with which Marion and so many of her colleagues regarded their Chinese students and the culture and civilisation of which they were part.’

      Marion was very much a part, and when a Taoist priest looked at her ‘several times in a puzzled way and then said, “She isn’t of our people then?”’ she felt ‘highly complimented’.

This beautiful hardback book will fascinate anyone interested in China and its history before the revolution, but it is equally absorbing for any reader who enjoys a great real-life story.
   The book is richly illustrated with photographs (156 of them) and detailed historically correct maps of the area where Marion was working.
     Marion’s writing is lyrical without ever being pretentious and her sense of humour shines through, as does her delight when she was able to use a little Irish blarney, sometimes to get out of extremely risky situations.
    Her story is full of suspense as well. The period of Japanese occupation was precarious for everyone and then with the start of the Second World War the dangers for Westerners living in China escalated tenfold.

‘Today we are celebrating Dr O’Neill’s 70th birthday, Chinese fashion. A 70th birthday is a very big day in a Chinese family, so we, two schools, hospital, evangelists and pastor, are to be his family and act the thing out. There are 23 of us altogether. Sons and daughter, granddaughters and number of great granddaughters. We are all wearing Chinese clothes. Joey and I are going as twins – his granddaughters, dressed in deep red gowns.’


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The Strange History of Seagulls

written and illustrated by

Maldwin Drummond

ISBN: 978-0-9935078-0-9

The book launch for this new children’s picture book was held at The Jolly Sailor, Ashlett, on Saturday 19th November 2016.


A better place could not have been chosen, as Maldwin’s stories – ahem! the seagulls’ stories – start with the landing of Vikings at Ashlett Creek in the year 839.


Here, a Viking thrust an ash stave into the ground, which grew into a tree and gave the place its name.


Now, there is an old Nordic myth that those who eat the fruit of an ash thus planted by a Viking will find they can speak and understand ‘seagull’ … here hangs the history of The Waterside narrated by George, the historian of seagulls, and his descendants.

 Gervase Gregory’s postcard of The Jolly Sailor from his book A Lifetime in Postcards.aslett-creek-ggs-pcard-with-outline-rgb

 Each page is illustrated with Maldwin’s characterful watercolour sketches of the seagulls and their adventures.




Maldwin signing books at the launch of ‘The Strange History of Seagulls’

Maldwin Drummond OBE has always been immersed in the history and ecology of The Waterside, the area between the New Forest and the Solent, originally described by Maldwin as the place ‘where the sea meets the land’.

The seagulls’ stories of this wonderful place beside the Solent range from how Ashlett got its name, to how the Brambles were formed, how sailing ships re-victualled at Cowes, how smugglers collected their contraband, how war struck the British coast, how peace allowed seabirds to thrive, how The America’s Cup race has become faster with the use of foils, and much, much more.

So next time you go to the beach, listen hard, you might hear the seagull’s call, “Kyow, kek-kek-kek-kyau. Kyow-ko!” and find you can understand!

You can buy the book from Little Knoll Bookshop


‘Sweetwings’ in his dazzle plummage




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wizzy-book-cover-front-b-200ppi-rgbThank you to everyone who came to yesterday’s launch of the children’s book Wizzy the Animal Whisperer

by Anthony Ridgway (author) and Suzan Houching (illustrator)

at The Point, Eastleigh.


To see a video from the book launch with David Suchet reading from the book click on BBC South


Well done to Anthony Ridgway who has published his first book. Wizzy is about a boy and his wheelchair. Anthony has had much support from the local community – as well as actor David Suchet – who was at the launch…

Posted by BBC South Today on Monday, 31 October 2016


You can buy the book Wizzy the Animal Whisperer from www.LittleKnollBookshop.co.uk

#wizzytheanimalwhisperer #littleknollpress #littleknollbookshop

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A *brilliant* new children’s book

WIZZY, the Animal Whisperer

by Anthony Ridgway – author

and Suzan Houching – artist

ISBN: 978-0-9927220-9-8


You can BUY THE BOOK from www.LittleKnollBookshop.co.uk



#wizzytheanimalwhisperer #littleknollpress #littleknollbookshop



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Portrait sketching LIVE!! on radio


Suzan Houching, Gervase Gregory & Alan Langford

take 20 minutes to sketch

Steve Harris 


the BBC Radio Solent Breakfast Show


After 20 minutes the sketching stopped for Steve’s interview with Suzan, Gervase and Alan.

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Please come !


Book Signing Event

Southampton City Art Gallery

Saturday July 16th


Front cover 'A Lifetime in Postcards' for Nielsen 22.05.13

A Lifetime in Postcards
by Gervase A Gregory

‘I think the book is wonderful; it perfectly evokes the mood, pace of life, beauty and variety that is The New Forest and The Waterside. So well prepared and presented, it’s like a tour of the Forest. I appreciate the OS map references. It is helping my memory of places like Lepe, which I have been to countless times, along with Hatchet Pond, my mother and father’s favourite place.’

John Grimley, Toronto, Canada.

My Story in Colour

by Suzan Houching

‘Suzan’s book is full of her glorious paintings, each telling a story, in pictures as well as in words. She seems to be one of those rare people, just as at home with a pen as with a paint brush. Her keen observation of life and the funny things that happen made me laugh. I found myself being immediately drawn into a wonderful, sunny world.’

Hannah Gordon in the book’s Foreword

My Story in Colour by New Forest artist Suzan Houching

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the equestrian art of 
Alan Langford

‘Alan’s book abounds with drawings and paintings of great energy and movement, but not only that, they tell stories, of people, of horses, in some cases of a vanishing lifestyle. With Alan’s work, every picture really does tell a story. The book does the same and what better thing can you say about a book or a painting than that?’

Alison Wilson  Reviewer Society of Equestrian Artists

Missed the BBC Radio Solent Breakfast Show

listen again‘ online click HERE
select this section 01:53:40 – 02:01:24

For VIDEO of the artists working on their portraits of Steve go to Radio Solent’s Facebook page 7th July 2016.

Steve Harris 2016

If you would like to have a go at your own portrait of Steve, here is his photo.

See what you can do and email me a jpeg or pdf of your portrait – Jenny@LittleKnollPress.co.uk

The best will join the artists’ work for display at the Southampton Art Gallery book signing event.

How’s that? You’ll be able to say you have work hung in the city’s gallery!!

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Suzan Houching, Gervase A Gregory

and Alan Langford

will be taking part in the first ever


to be held by


Saturday July 16th

10am – 12.30pm.

Come and meet the artists, browse their books and chat with them.

. . .

The gallery can be found in Southampton Civic Centre, same entrance as the library and on the first floor with disabled access via the lift.

Each book is written and illustrated by the artist, reflecting his/her unique life story and art.

A Lifetime in Postcards

by Gervase A Gregory

'A Lifetime in Postcards' by New Forest artist Gervase A Gregory

Gervase Gregory is a wonderful watercolour artist and he knows the Waterside and New Forest area extremely well. Through metal detecting he has found many interesting items that reflect local history, some of which are illustrated in his book – a penny of Ecgberht, King of Wessex, 802 – 839 AD, found near Totton, lead tokens discovered on the Solent shore embossed with the letters ‘HA’ standing for Henry Adams shipbuilder of Buckler’s Hard, a cast iron barrow wheel from the old brickworks not far from Beaulieu, and a Saxon coin found on the edge of Southampton Water. Gervase takes the reader page by page on journeys through the area – in fact quite a few people use his book as a tour guide.

My Story in Colour

by Suzan Houching

My Story in Colour by New Forest artist Suzan Houching

In Suzan’s paintings and stories you will recognise many places in the New Forest and Dorset, but most of all her pictures are about everyday life, depicting scenes that are familiar to all of us with all their characters, oddities and idiosyncracies – and they are really guaranteed to make you smile. Suzan loves bold colour and patterns. Her lively artistic style struck a cord with Hannah Gordon, who wrote in the foreword to the book, ‘Suzan seems to be one of those rare people, just as at home with a pen as with a brush. Her keen observation of life and the funny things that happen made me laugh. I found myself being immediately drawn into a wonderful, sunny world.’


by Alan Langford

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Alan’s book is again quite different. He has written about his first memories as a small child in a caravan park in Dibden, his fascination for the New Forest ponies and all horses, his love of drawing and how after a spell of labouring in Australia he returned to work at Fawley Refinery, going to night school to study art. Through his powerful paintings of working horses and their human owners he has gained immense respect, especially from Romany people. Alison Wilson, reviewer for the Society of Equestrian Artists, wrote, ‘His drawings and paintings have great energy and movement, but not only that, they tell the stories of people, of horses, in some cases of a vanishing lifestyle.’

Alan’s interest in equestrian art was the trigger for the ‘Nags to Thoroughbreds‘ exhibition in Southampton Art Gallery in 2012 which included one of Alan’s large oils.

This signing event in Southampton Art Gallery provides a wonderful link between our local art collection and the work of contemporary artists from the area.

A warm welcome will be there for everyone who can come.

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Wizzy the Animal Whisperer

written by Anthony Ridgway

and illustrated by Suzan Houching


Ant Ridgway’s new book, Wizzy the Animal Whisperer, is an adventure story about Wizzy the wheelchair, Dan, and friends, James and Sophie.


The book was launched on the

29th of October at The Point, Eastleigh


Well done to Anthony Ridgway who has published his first book. Wizzy is about a boy and his wheelchair. Anthony has had much support from the local community – as well as actor David Suchet – who was at the launch…
Posted by BBC South Today on Monday, 31 October 2016



Wizzy the Animal Whisperer is available to 



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In this photo taken at a progress meeting are Grethe (Ant’s mum), Ant, and Suzan Houching, the artist who illustrated the book.

Oh, and of course, WIZZY, the wheelchair!

Ant has cerebral palsy and has been wheelchair bound all his life, so he has a unique take on life which makes this book very special.

He also has limited sight and hand coordination and writes using a large keyboard and a Dolphin computer programme that speaks each letter out as he types.

Ant’s hearing is acute though, and this works to advantage in a story that is told mostly in dialogue.

Suzan Houching’s wonderful illustrations are full of character, perfectly bringing the story to life.


Here is the first page of Wizzy the Animal Whisperer –
Dan meets Nellie RGB 10cmH 200ppi If I had known how the day would end, I’d never have been bickering with Wizzy over a horse.

The cart horse started as we approached her. Her nostrils flared, eyes widened.


The horse looked at us, ambled over.

“I didn’t know that you could speak horse, Wizzy.”

I can speak to any animal. This one’s known as Nellie.

“When you’ve quite finished boasting how clever you are – oh! er! we’re going into a ditch.”

Oops! Picky, aren’t we?

“It’s a fine start to our farm holiday. You’re always getting us into scrapes.”

True, but I always get us out of them.” 

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The Waterstones, Lymington

Meet the Authors and Artists

event on Saturday 19th March

was an all out success.


3 NF artists signing event inv p'cd back RGB 200ppiScroll down to see photos of the event.

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A good crowd had already gathered by 10.30.

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Sharing local stories from the New Forest and Dorset, with Suzan Houching, artist and author of A Life in Colour.

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Alan Langford, member of the Society of Equestrian Artists, signing his book WELGORA.

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Gervase Gregory, watercolour artist, signs his book A Lifetime in Postcards for one of his oldest fans (Frank Tovey age 94).

 DSC00361 14cmW 200ppi Alan delighted young fans with original drawings done on the spot.
 DSC00323 cropped 12cmW 200ppi  Gervase shared painting tips with budding artists.
DSC00319 14cmW 200ppi Suzan’s stories engage everyone who picks up her book. 
DSC00353 14cmW 200ppi A happy and successful occasion for everyone.
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If you would like a copy of your photo from the event please let me know either on facebook (Little Knoll Press) or by email to Jenny@LittleKnollPress.co.uk
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To buy the books go to Little Knoll Bookshop

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Welgora vers10 front RGB 8cmW 600ppiWELGORA – the equestrian art of Alan Langford 

has received a glowing review in the Society of Equestrian Artists newsletter.


Alison Wilson, the reviewer, is well-known for her equestrian paintings and for her witty and articulate instructional book Drawing and Painting Horses. Praise from her is praise indeed!


With Alison’s kind permission you can read her full review here below. It includes the paintings selected to illustrate the review in the December 2015 Society of Equestrian Artists newsletter.


Book Review

Welgora: The equestrian art of Alan Langford

A New Forest artist’s story

‘Welgora’ (Anglo-Romani for ‘Horse Fair’) is a newly published book on the work – and the life – of Alan Langford, a long-standing Full Member of the SEA, whom many of you will know from workshops and other SEA events. I have always enjoyed Alan’s contributions to the SEA’s Annual Exhibitions, and therefore I was delighted to be asked to review this book for your Newsletter.

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‘Romani with vanners’ on page xi


‘Appleby Fair’ on page 103

This book has many strands. It follows the story of Alan’s life, but does so largely through his work, and the book is packed full of illustrations in colour and line-and-wash. Woven through the book are many observations on the history and the lives of travelling people, and thoughts on what it means to be an artist. Above all, it is a thought provoking read, courageous in not shirking controversy or difficult and personal topics.

I seldom read biographies of artists, especially if they are written by ‘non-artists’. I find their insight into working practice is at best minimal and often dangerously misleading, and their propensity to descend into irrelevant gossip – often unsubstantiated gossip – irritating, but autobiographies of artists are a different matter. If thoughtfully and honestly written, they can be a source of practical help, guidance and even inspiration. This book is a good example.


‘August Drift, New Forest’ on pages 8&9

It would be impossible to read this book and remain unaware of the dedication necessary to the life of a serious working artist. This dedication expresses itself in many ways- the time an artist must spend learning, not just as a student, but throughout their working life, the humility that means they never stop working to improve, the absolute need for ruthless professional self-criticism, which sometimes conflicts dangerously with the hard fight against self-doubt, the debts artists feel towards mentors and colleagues who generously help those who many people might regard as their potential professional rivals. It is all here, in this book. But there is something more, and that’s here too. It is the need to work.  Just wanting to ‘be’ an artist isn’t enough. You have to want, to need, to draw, to paint, to model.

Some of us have been fortunate enough to have it (relatively) easy – that is, we had the opportunity to go to a good art school full-time at a young age, but many of the best artists have not had that opportunity. They have had to work hard at other jobs to earn a crust while studying when and where they could, going to evening classes at the local college or art school. This requires an even higher level of commitment. As someone who taught such students I saw this in practice- to turn out time after time in miserable winter weather to go to a life class after an exhausting day at work and study hard for another two or three hours takes courage and dedication of a high order. Alan is an artist who has had to take this harder road, and it is humbling to read of how hard he has worked to get where he is.


‘New Arrivals, Stow-on-the-Wold’ on pages 50&51

Throughout the book you feel not only Alan’s ‘need’ to draw and to paint – for example,  how even when he was working as a full-time illustrator he got up early to complete his illustration commissions so he could go out and paint from life later in the day – but also his sheer joy in doing it. This drives the book, just as it has driven his life. As a result this is not a preachy book- it is a thoroughly enjoyable read and abounds with interesting and amusing stories and colourful descriptions which bring places and times to life ( and make me for one want to go and paint them) because Alan uses language in a painterly way – not something every artist is able to do.

Many of us will have worked alongside other artists at workshops and exhibitions, sometimes knowing specific artists superficially for years, but sadly it isn’t often we get to know much about each other apart from our work. It’s often surprising if you do get talking about each other’s murky pasts what varied backgrounds artists have – I know of artists who have been platelayers on the railway, accountants, carpet fitters, vets, police forensic photographers, bus drivers, and nurses. Amongst those who have more traditional pasts for artists I know graphic designers, technical draughtsmen, and scenic artists, as well as teachers of the various branches of art of course. Alan can add quite a few things to both lists, some that certainly surprised me and I’ve known Alan as an artist for some years, but I’d be spoiling the book for you if I listed them. So I won’t. You’ll have to read it yourself.

It won’t shock anyone who knows me who is reading this, but one of Alan’s points throughout the book with which I could not agree more involves the importance of drawing, and drawing often; Alan’s  ‘Draw, draw, then draw some more’- echoes Sickert’s famous saying ‘Drawing is the thing’, and Ingres’ somewhat more formal ‘Drawing is the proberty of Art’.  Throughout his life Alan has always drawn, and still attends life class (as indeed we should all do wherever possible). Alan’s quotation from Lucy Kemp Welch on the subject of life drawing nailed the reasons for an artist to work at life drawing (whatever subjects they may paint) better than any other quotation I’ve read.

For me, Alan’s most impressive skills involve those very aspects of art in which I feel myself to be least skilled – a good visual memory and the capacity to draw ‘out of your head’ – without a model in front of you. These skills, both of them rare and difficult to learn, and very difficult indeed to teach, are crucial to an artist like Alan who paints stories and not merely studies.

It’s always intriguing to hear from an artist which artists they most admire, and/or feel they have learned from. Alan’s case is no exception; there are many thoughtful references to artists, both masters and contemporaries, in the book. His long term admiration for Goya surprised me at first, as Goya is not an artist often cited as an influence with artists with the possible exception of printmakers, then when I thought about Alan’s background in illustration and considered some of the fine examples of it in this book (‘Shipwreck’ and ‘Warrior on horse’) it made perfect sense, and his words on Goya made me think it was time I went back and looked again at Goya’s work. That’s always a good sign in a book. I share Alan’s enthusiasm for some of the ‘usual suspects’, such as Rembrandt and Constable, but also for some of the rarer birds, such as de Loutherbourg, more known to scenic artists than painters as a rule. This particular liking didn’t surprise me in Alan, as de Loutherbourg was a great dramatic story-teller in paint.

The book abounds with drawings and paintings of great energy and movement, but not only that, fundamentally they tell stories, of people, of horses, in some cases of a vanishing lifestyle. With Alan’s work, every picture really does tell a story. The book does the same and what better thing can you say about a book or a painting than that?

Alison Wilson

To buy WELGORA and other New Forest artist’s books go to www.littleknollbookshop.co.uk 

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Front cover 'A Lifetime in Postcards' for Nielsen 22.05.13I would like to share a great review that I’ve just received via the

author and New Forest artist

Gervase A Gregory

on his book

A Lifetime in Postcards,

published by Little Knoll Press in 2013.

ISBN: 978-0-9565359-8-6


For anyone interested in art (watercolour painting) and in the New Forest, here it is (all the way from John Grimley, Toronto, Canada) for you to read:-

‘I think the book is wonderful; it perfectly evokes the mood, pace of life, beauty and variety that is The New Forest and The Waterside. So well prepared and presented, it’s like a tour of the Forest.

I am currently at my desk, in the basement office, devouring your book. I appreciate the OS map references. My wife bought a bound OS atlas at a book sale a while ago for a buck or two – to help with her genealogy – published in 1986. It has helped her and now it is assisting in helping my own memory of places like Lepe, which I have been to countless times. It, along with Hatchet Pond (sic) was my mother and father’s favourite place to go and soak in the scenery.

I shall now return to your book and my nostalgia and will write again soon.’


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A double page spread from ‘A Lifetime in Postcards’.

You can purchase the book on http://littleknollbookshop.co.uk/a-lifetime-in-postcards-by-new-forest-artist-gervase-a-gergory/

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