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Death of the original Jennings

Michael Crick | 16:23 UK time, Thursday, 19 November 2009

This is nothing to do with politics at all, but I am sad to report that Dairmaid Jennings, the model for Anthony Buckeridge's famous Jennings stories, has died at the age of 96.

One of my proudest scoops as a journalist was to track him down about a dozen years ago. I had got to know Anthony Buckeridge through my daughter's love of the Jennings stories (following on from my own interest as a child).

Anthony told me that the model for the stories was a boy called Dairmaid Jennings at his school, Seaford College, where they were schoolboys together in the 1920s, and where Dairmaid was always getting into scrapes.

But Anthony had no idea what had happened to Dairmaid in later life.

I was determined to track him down, and found he was living in a nursing home in Nelson in New Zealand.

Amazingly, Dairmaid Jennings knew nothing about the Jennings stories, and that he'd been the model for a fictional character whose exploits have been read by millions, ever since Anthony Buckeridge published his first Jennings stories after the war (his last Jennings book came out in 1994).

They were turned in radio and TV series, and translated into 17 languages, but Dairmaid was ignorant of all this, partly because he'd gone to live in Australia around 1940 (and later New Zealand), and perhaps because he'd never had any children of his own.

After I'd discovered Dairmaid, he was put in touch with Anthony and they remained in contact for the last few years of the writer's life (before he died in 2004). Anthony's publishers sent Dairmaid copies of the Jennings books, which were read to him by the staff at his nursing home. He loved them.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I hugely enjoyed the exploits of Jennings and Darbishire during my childhood, and several older versions of the books still sit on the bookshelves at home. Though not a boarding school pupil, and at school in Bolton during the '70s and early 80s, the stories had an appeal that still lingers. Sorry to hear about the passing of the original Jennings, but Nelson, near the Marlborough Sounds, is a more than pleasant place to have lived, and a world away from Linbury Court.

 

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