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1001 Stories Collection

The Elephant War

1001 The Elephant War
Added on 21st August 2020

Author Gillian Avery
First published 1960
Publisher Collins, Glasgow

A novel set in Victorian Oxford, based on a real life campaign to prevent the sale of a London Zoo elephant to Barnum's Circus.

Story

Recently arrived in Oxford, Harriet Jessop doesn’t fit in at the Ladies’ College, much to her mother’s despair. She desperately wants to befriend the three Smith boys who seem much more fun. However, she soon gets swept up in her Aunt Louisa’s crusade to save Jumbo the elephant from being shipped to America.

Why we chose it

A story set in Victorian Oxford. Gillian Avery is best known for her Oxford-set historical novels.

Where it came from

Gillian Avery wanted to give the children in her stories a chance to tackle the difficulties of the adult world and, in The Elephant War, she used a real-life event, the sale of Jumbo the elephant from London Zoo to Barnum’s Circus, to do just that.

Where it went next

As well as writing over fourteen children’s books, winning the Guardian Prize for A Likely Lad (1971) and being commended three times as a runner-up for the Carnegie Medal, Gillian Avery also wrote five non-fiction works about children’s literature and education.

Associated stories

The Elephant War was Gillian Avery’s fourth children’s book and featured characters who had already appeared in two of her previous books: The Warden’s Niece (1957) and Trespassers at Charlcote (1958).

Added on 21st August 2020

Author Gillian Avery
First published 1960
Publisher Collins, Glasgow