Alison Uttley

Alison Uttley
Born Alice Jane Taylor
(1884-12-17)17 December 1884
Cromford, Derbyshire, England
Died 7 May 1976(1976-05-07) (aged 91)
Monuments Blue plaque
Residence 13 Higher Downs, Bowdon, Cheshire, England
Alma mater Manchester University
Hughes Hall, Cambridge
  • Teacher
  • Author
Notable work Little Grey Rabbit
Spouse(s) James Arthur Uttley
Children John Taylor, son
Awards Honorary Doctor of Letters, Manchester University

Alison Uttley (17 December 1884 7 May 1976), née Alice Jane Taylor, was a British writer of over 100 books. She is now best known for her children's series about Little Grey Rabbit, and Sam Pig.

Early life

Born in Cromford and brought up in rural Derbyshire, she was educated at the Lea School in Holloway and the Lady Manners School in Bakewell, where she developed a love for science which led to a scholarship to Manchester University to read physics. In 1906 she became the second woman honours graduate of the University.

After leaving university she trained as a teacher in Cambridge and in 1908 took up the post of physics teacher at Fulham Secondary School for Girls in West London. Three years later she married James Arthur Uttley. The Uttleys had one son, John Corin Taylor. James Uttley committed suicide by drowning in 1930, his health having been affected by his service in the First World War. John also killed himself, deliberately driving his car off a cliff in 1978.[1][2]

The Uttleys lived at Downs House, 13 Higher Downs, Bowdon, Cheshire from 1924 to 1938 which now has a blue plaque to signify the association.

Writing career

Alice began writing to support herself and her son financially after she was widowed. Her first books were a series of tales about animals, including Little Grey Rabbit, The Little Red Fox, Sam Pig and Hare. She later wrote for older children and adults, particularly focussing on rural topics, notably in The Country Child (1931), a fictionalized account of her childhood experiences at her family farm home, Castletop, near Cromford.

One of her most popular works is A Traveller in Time (1939). Based on the Babington Plot of Anthony Babington at Dethick, near her family home, this romance mixes dream and historical fact in a story about a twentieth-century girl who is transported to the 16th century, becoming involved in a plot to free Mary, Queen of Scots from nearby Wingfield Manor. Uttley later settled in Beaconsfield, in a house named Thackers after the house in the book. In January 1978 the BBC aired the 5-part series A Traveller in Time based on Uttley's story. It starred 15-year-old newcomer Sophie Thompson and then rising star Simon Gipps-Kent.

She disliked Enid Blyton, describing her as a boastful and a "vulgar, curled woman".[3]

Uttley was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree by Manchester University in 1970 in recognition of her literary work.

In 2009 her private diaries, covering the period 1932 to 1971, were published for the first time - edited by Professor Denis Judd who had previously written Uttley's biography.[4]




Short Story Collections


Memoirs and Essays


As Editor

"Sam Pig" Books

"Tim Rabbit" Books

"Little Brown Mouse" Books

"Little Red Fox" Books

"Grey Rabbit" Books


  1. Byatt attacks novelists who use real-life characters - The Guardian, 13 August 2009.
  2. Granny, Noddy and Me - The Guardian, 14 November 2009.
  3. Diaries reveal dark side to Little Grey Rabbits creator - The Guardian, 17 June 2009.
  4. Duffin, Claire (2009-06-05). "Private Diaries of Alison Uttley to be Published". Northcliffe Media. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
  5. Book and Magazine Collector, No.166, Jan'98, pp27-29

External links

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