Valerie Alderson


Brian's wife Valerie was professionally involved with children's books before he was. She worked for the specialist library suppliers, Haldane's of Demmark Street, before leaving to raise a family. Later however, in part through the natural social connections encountered in the field and in part through supporting Brian's work (she typed the whole of his translation of Bettina Hürlimann's books) she found herself directly working in the busy scene of 1960s publishing. She 'read' for Grace Hogarth at Constable's and when Nancy Lockwood began editing Children's Book News, Valerie became one of her regular reviewers.

Nancy gave up this editorial role after marrying Aidan Chambers and Valerie succeeded her as editor. However, within a couple of years, Eric Baker, the proprietor, decided to close the magazine and Valerie forthwith continued a look-alike publication, Children's Book Review, under her own imprint, the Five Owls Press. (It would later lead to her publishing Nancy Cutt's Ministering Angels and two major bibliographies of early children's literature: Sydney Roscoe on John Newbery and his successors, and Marjorie Moon on John Harris.)

Although Brian wrote for Children's Book Review and, as a children's book historian, could not fail to give advice over other publishing ventures, Valerie followed a separate course and her later reviewing for the Times Educational Supplement led to her becoming one of the judges for its Information Book Award.

Married to a book collector, she early realised that there was no escape from the obsession and the Alderson Collection contains many volumes (with an appropriate book label) showing Valerie's interest in women's and children's magazines, the obscure writers for girls around the late Victorian period, and the books of Louisa May Alcott, whose Little Women Valerie edited for Oxford's World's Classics series.