This is an absolutely delightful book, which has most of its early action in a market garden, and then more in another one. The author is a great naturalist, and he has much to teach us about the way in which work should be done to raise fruit and vegetables to be taken to London daily for the market. Somehow that sounds boring but there is so much action entwined with these facts that they are made far from boring.
The action takes place about 1835. The hero lives with his mother in a house overlooking the garden. When she dies he is taken in by Old Brownsmith to be taught the skills of a market gardener. Another boy, Shock, hangs about the garden, sleeping rough and living on a primitive diet of snails, hedgehogs and rabbits and whatever he can get. There is an uneasy relationship between the boys, with Shock constantly doing unkind and strange things, and our hero, Grant Dennison, longing to get to know him better.
I particularly loved the episode where an old worker, Ike, takes the even older horse, Basket, for his regular overnight trip to the London fruit and vegetable market, taking Grant with him.
There are plenty of the usual Manville Fenn episodes of terror and near-disaster, and indeed it is a lovely book. Do read it.
George Manville Fenn lived from 1831 to 1909, and was a prolific writer of boys' adventure stories. He also wrote serialised books for the various boys' periodicals.
The feature that is common to most of his books is the method of sustained suspense that he employed. He wrote, in explaining this, that he relied upon the human desire to unravel a mystery, to retain his readers' attention. He was able to retain their interest right up to the very last page, by building up mysterious and dire situations one upon the other. You are constantly left asking, "How does he get out of this one?" It is just this aspect that makes transcribing his books to e-texts such fun.
George Manville Fenn, English writer of juvenile stories, was born in London January 3, 1831. He was educated at private schools, then attended Battersea Training College for Teachers from 1851 to 1854. He was Master of a small school in Lincolnshire for a time, then became a printer and published a small magazine of poetry, "Modern Metre," in 1862. Two years later he was part owner of the Hertfordshire and Essex Observer, another unsuccessful venture. He then began writing for various periodicals, such as Chamber's Journal and All the Year Round, and was editor of Cassell's Magazine in 1870, and of Once a Week from 1873 to 1879. He soon began to pour out a flood of books for boys, as well as a few novels, many of which were reprinted in America, and before his death he had published between 175 and 200. He was married in 1855 to Susanna Leake, and by her had two sons and six daughters. He died August 26, 1909.
A PDF of scans and an HTML version of this book are provided. We also provide a plain TEXT version and full instructions for using this to make your own audiobook. To find these click on the PDF, HTML or TXT links on the left.
These transcriptions of books by various nineteenth century authors of instructive books for teenagers, were made during the period 1997 to the present day by Athelstane e-Books. Most of the books are concerned with the sea, but in any case all will give a good idea of life in the nineteenth century, and sometimes earlier than that. This of course includes attitudes prevalent at the time, but frowned upon nowadays.
We used a Hewlett-Packard scanner, a Plustek OpticBook 3600 scanner or a Nikkon Coolpix 5700 camera to scan the pages. We then made a pdf which we used to assist with editing the OCRed text.
To make a text version we used TextBridge Pro 98 or ABBYY Finereader 7 or 8 to produce a first draft of the text, and Athelstane software to find misreads and improve the text. We proof-read the chapters, and then made a CD with the book read aloud by either Fonix ISpeak or TextAloud MP3. The last step enables us to hear and correct most of the errors that may have been missed by the other steps, as well as entertaining us during the work of transcription.
The resulting text can be read either here at the Internet Archive or at www.athelstane.co.uk