Malcolm Saville
Page authored by and (c) Jim Mackenzie
Page finalised 7th November, 2010.

The 21st February, 2001 marked the centenary of the birth of Leonard Malcolm Saville. A full account of his life and career and other books can be found on John's Malcolm Saville site. An excellent companion to the Lone Pine stories (“The Complete Lone Pine”) was written by Mark O’Hanlon.

In compiling this Collecting Books and Magazines tribute to a celebrated writer for children, the author of this page is aware of the wealth of knowledge of the members of the Lone Pine Clubs past and present, and of the depth of the affection in which Malcolm Saville and his characters are held. A chance discovery in a second-hand bookshop of “Lone Pine Five” led to a marvellous journey through the whole of the series in a few short months. If mistakes have been made, then this ‘outsider’ is happy to be corrected. After all, some of you reading these words grew up with the adventures and have known them a long time. You were lucky - but then so was I, stumbling across a treasure like this in the year 2000.

My thanks go to Kim Miles and Betula O’Neill who kept me supplied with books until I ended my quest.

Peter and Tom above.

The Gay Dolphin Adventure

Wings over Witchend

Lone Pine Stories
As you can see from the dates below the stories were written over a period of 36 years. They started in war-time and ended in the 1970’s. This inevitably produces inconsistencies but none of them really matter. When we read “Not Scarlet but Gold” and hear the Lone Piners asking about war-time parachutists on the Mynd we do not ask why they can’t remember their first adventure in 1942. When Peter (Petronella) wears a mini-skirt in “Rye Royal” we don’t wonder if she’s in fashion or hopelessly out-moded, we just wish we were there to see it !

Not Scarlet but Gold

Treasure at Amorys

Man with Three Fingers

The Lone Pine Series
Each book is a story in itself and it is not the purpose of this page to give away so many details of the plots that they will spoil the enjoyment of anyone meeting these excellent stories for the first time. Similarly those meeting or completing the adventures should avoid reading the detailed article below until the last story has been read.

Here a mere taste or flavour of the action is given in each case in the hope that it will jog a few memories and send you back or for the first time to the best source of all – Malcolm Saville’s own writing.

1. Mystery at Witchend. (1943)
Lost in a fog, half way up the hillside, the resourceful twins hear the hooting of too many owls. The friendliest of people can turn out to be enemies.
2. Seven White Gates (1944)
Even the Romany caravans keep well clear of Seven White Gates. Jenny Harman would like to run away from the village of Barton Beach but one place she won’t go is up through the “whispering wood” to the old farmhouse. Peter has to go and stay there. The Morton twins don’t share Jenny’s fears but they do share an unusual adventure.
3. The Gay Dolphin Adventure (1945)
Tossing a clod of mud into the face of your cousin whilst he is sleeping is one way of getting his attention. Another way is keeping your courage when confronted by the redoubtable Miss Ballinger.
4. The Secret of Grey Walls (1947)
Girls to the rescue. Vivid dreams come true. A winter’s night on the hillsides above the sleepy town of Clun is packed with incident. Read how Penny, Peter and Jenny deal with things in their own way.
5. Lone Pine Five (1949)
When Tom buys his friend Jenny a present he little realises the trouble he is getting them into. Events burst out of the page like water out of the hillside.
6. The Elusive Grasshopper (1951)
Jon speaks better French than Penny – well, he would, wouldn’t he ? Deserted schools and policemen on miniature railways all add to the excitement as reporter James Wilson enlists the help of the Lone Piners whilst on a strange assignment.
7. The Neglected Mountain (1953)
Mr. Morton devises an unusual day out for the Lone Piners. Macbeth, the kidnapped Scottie, leads Peter, David and Mary into underground trouble.
8. Saucers Over the Moor (1955)
Moonlight on the streets of Rye. Cycle rides on the roads across Dartmoor. Dan Sturt gets the story of a life-time. Penny goes out the window and into trouble.
9. Wings Over Witchend (1956)
Through the snow with Peter and the twins. Through the snow with Peter alone on her pony. High on a tower with Tom and Jenny. A winter story par excellence.
10. Lone Pine London (1957)
A foggy day in London Town sets Jon on the trail. Harriet is introduced for the first time and the Lone Piners become connoisseurs of fine art.
11. The Secret of the Gorge (1958)
Macbeth visits a house full of cats. A mansion is being demolished and David hurts his knuckles on somebody’s teeth.
12. Mystery Mine. (1959)
Jon and Penny have a memorable meeting on the steps up to Whitby Abbey. Harriet proves her courage and Dickie loses his twin.
13. Sea Witch Comes Home (1960)
And the sea came in. Three Lone Piners are up to their necks in it – trouble that is ! You almost feel sorry for the criminal when the twins are on the trail.
14. Not Scarlet but Gold (1962)
Under the Stiperstones and on the back streets of Shrewsbury momentous events change the lives of the older Lone Piners for ever.
15. Treasure at Amorys (1964)
It’s Penny’s turn to dream. Jon again becomes a man of action. David pines and the twins are their usual selves.
16. Man with Three Fingers (1966)
Tom is loyal to all his friends even when they lead him into trouble. Jenny never gives up but it is David who spots the vital clue.
17. Rye Royal (1969)
Another splendid winter story set in Rye. Peter discovers new things about the old town and about herself. Selling books is not always a safe occupation. Penny spends a lot of time making coffee.
18. Strangers at Witchend (1970)
With the older Lone Piners somehow preoccupied, Dickie, Mary and Harriet get more than their share of trouble. None of them, however, gets as much as Macbeth.
19. Where’s My Girl ? (1972)
A really fishy story. Dickie and Mary climb Mount Morton. Dan Sturt gets on the trail of another interesting mystery but Jenny is the one who has to start afresh in her own home.
20. Home to Witchend. (1978)
Peter reaches 18 years of age. Whilst thieves fall out with each other, the Lone Piners remain true to the document they signed in the first adventure.

Rye Royal

Strangers at Witchend

Where's My Girl?

Who are the Lone Piners ?
As the books formed themselves into a series Malcolm Saville would write a foreword to each one in which he introduced new readers to the characters in the Lone Pine Club. Later books in the series had subtle variations in these descriptions as the children grew older. Sometimes even the relative ages of the characters changed ! Jenny, who is twelve in the first book where Peter is fifteen, becomes several months older than Peter before Peter reaches her eighteenth birthday !

The following descriptions are based on observations of the whole series of twenty books.

1. David John Morton
David is steady and reliable. The reader comes to learn that, though he has deep feelings, he tends to be undemonstrative. This serves him well in most situations where he can keep his head and ensure that he plays his role as leader of the Lone Pine Club. Unfortunately, for a while, his self-restraint and reserve can lead to misunderstandings with those he cares for most. He is extremely good-humoured so that the rare occasions when he loses his temper are made all the more remarkable. He is clearly of above average intelligence and, in the sporting field, has a particular love for the game of cricket. The relationship with his twin brother and sister is an unusual one. His parents trust him to take care of them and Dickie and Mary nearly always eventually obey his orders. He appreciates their courage and is prepared to tolerate their extraordinary ability for getting into trouble. Their embarrassing habit of being cheeky to strangers and standing up for each other whether they are right or wrong, is a constant trial to him. As he grows older David gains a new self-confidence and has made very clear plans about his career in the law.

2. Petronella (Peter) Sterling
There is nothing about Peter that anyone could ever dislike and yet this does not make her impossibly good. She is honest, loyal, remarkably brave, loving, compassionate, a dutiful daughter and a terrific friend. And yet she is a very vulnerable person. Her mother died after her birth and she has lived all her life with her father in a lonely cottage near the Hatcholt reservoir in the Shropshire hills. She is intelligent but not an academic person. She excels at swimming and horse riding. Though her father sometimes complains about her untidiness, the two are devoted to each other. Her time at school in Shrewsbury is not particularly happy and she has no real long-term school friend. In some ways she is cut off from the world and her character develops in many new and interesting ways after she meets the Morton family. The intensity and strangeness of her dreams adds tremendous colour to several of the narratives

In the early stories her blonde hair is drawn back into two old-fashioned plaits. Later she wears it as a bun and later still it falls attractively to her shoulders. From the beginning she is always described as attractive but by the later stories she is stunningly beautiful. Always in tune with the countryside, Peter has been taught by her father to love and understand all the animals and birds, but none means as much to her as her little Welsh pony, Sally. As Dickie establishes in “Mystery at Witchend”, Petronella’s unusual name has been taken from a boat
that her father saw on a beach in Cromer. If her Christian name is strange, her surname is perfect - for Sterling means genuine, pure and precious.

3. Tom Ingles
Tom is the oldest of the Lone Piners, and, throughout the series, is the only one who is in regular work. His background is filled with tragedy, having lost both of his parents. He is a city boy, living and labouring on his uncle’s farm. The world of Tom and Jenny is narrower than the other four older Lone Pine characters. Their opportunities to see more than a small section of Shropshire are restricted. Tom is renowned for his good humour and his pleasant character. Inevitably the boundaries of the Ingles farm begins to seem too small to him and growing to maturity causes him problems he might not have expected. He even puts at risk those things that matter the most. Of the three older boys Tom, used to manual labour evey day of his life, appears to the strongest and the quickest. Drowned in a regular deluge of words whenever he meets Jenny, he always remains instinctively generous and kind to her and his other friends.

4. Jenny Harman
Unlike Peter Jenny wears her heart upon her sleeve. The early stories in the series show her coming to terms with her lack of courage. Later adventures demonstrate that she has many painful things to learn before she grows up. Her life at the little newsagent’s shop in out-of-the-way Barton Beach seems impossibly dull until she is befriended by Peter and the Mortons. Jenny’s other escape is into the world of books and in particular into the world of romance. With all her emotion ponded up until the holidays, Jenny becomes very much of a chatterbox when she is with her friends. Provided with a conventional stepmother who early on gives every appearance of being cruel, Jenny’s life seems far more mundane than all of the others. The Lone Pine Club is her saviour and she becomes acutely aware of the feelings of all the others and knows instinctively when Peter is unhappy. Her particular friend is Tom and she makes no secret of how much she likes him. It takes a long time for him to realise that Jenny brings out all the best things in him.

5. Penelope (Penny) Warrender
Penny is another red-head but her character differs from that of Jenny in several ways. She is quick and impulsive but also has a deep-down confidence in most areas of her life. The long years of estrangement from her parents, who live and work abroad, has had the twin effect of making her more self-reliant but also briefly rather awkward when they do return to this country. We learn that she writes as she speaks and that she is full of energy and passion. Her cousin, Jon, fills her both with admiration and with frustration. Much as she would like to control his behaviour and force him to pay her more attention, she realises that his independent spirit is what she admires. Penny appears to be a good mixer and fits in well in any new situation. David describes Penny as “very jolly and has red hair and an awful temper.” One of the best moments in the whole series is when Peter and Penny meet for the first time and each realises the other is giving the other appraising glances. The attraction of opposites applies and even Peter’s fussy old father can see that the two girls are good for each other.

6. Jonathan (Jon) Warrender
Jon is both frustratingly intelligent and reassuringly down-to-earth. He is the most academic of the Lone Piners with an interest in science and a gift for languages. At times he appears to treat Penny with cavalier indifference and at other times it is clear that he really cares for her. A public school boy like David, Jon finds the twins rather childish but enjoys planning expeditions and talking things through with their brother. Careless of his appearance, bespectacled, and sometimes seemingly in a world of his own, Jon, always seems to have his feelings under control. In moments of crisis it is surprising what resources he finds and the satisfaction he gets from hitting out at his enemies. He likes an intellectual challenge but finds also that he copes quite well when physical action is required.

7. Mary Morton and
8. Richard (Dickie) Morton
At times Mary appears the more dominant of the twins, especially in the earlier stories. She is singled out from her brother by her total devotion to Macbeth, the Scottish terrier, and by the closeness to Peter, who is like the sister she has never had. Malcolm Saville makes great play upon the loyalty that the twins have to each other. He also allows them to behave appallingly when confronting strangers. The embarrassment factor is always high when David has to appear in public with them. Dickie is sometimes portrayed as being unhappy at school and, in later stories, becomes interested in a career in journalism, showing, it has to be said, all the worst aspects of that profession in constantly wanting attention and a lack of consideration for other people’s feelings. If the older children are a little too good to be true, then the twins make up for it to such an extent that their father sometimes wonders if they are safe to be allowed out. We are meant to forgive their behaviour because of their courage but, in fact, it is their never ending struggle with the English language which is “acksherley” their biggest redeeming feature.

8. Harriet (Harry) Sparrow
Harriet is a late-comer on the scene and the last member of the Lone Pine Club. Life with her parents is very sketchily drawn in but her grandfather and his knowledge of antiques plays an important part of several of the stories. She spends most her time on the periphery of the adventures until “Strangers at Witchend” where she has an important role and puts the principles of the club into action. Although she is closest to the twins in age and affections, she gives every sign of growing up to be a kind, sensible and sensitive girl.

9. Macbeth (Mackie)
This poor dog must be one of the most long-suffering in all children’s literature. His life is a strange mixture of being incessantly pampered and of being plunged into fights with unpleasant criminals. Even in the good times there is little dignity for a noble-looking dog like a Scottie in being carried in a basket on Mary’s bike. He has the courage and ferocity to make life uncomfortable for some of the minor rogues but he is too small a dog to be a match for ruthless people who will use their boots or who are not afraid to hit out with clubs. In other words he is the ideal companion for the children, being both brave and vulnerable. In the later stories signs of his age begin to appear.

A biography of Malcolm Saville is available. Entitled "Beyond the Lone Pine", and written by Mark O'Hanlon with the active co-operation of Mr Saville's family, it comprises over two hundred pages of text, photographs and ephemera in a hardback volume. The price is 17.99 plus postage at cost. CHECK FIRST AS THIS IS OLD INFORMATION!
Please visit the Topsy-Turvy web-site at;

I have been a secret member of the Lone Pine Club since David asked me to join in 1967. I can, of course, imitate the sound of the Peewit, ride a bike, stand up for what is good in the world and stay loyal to my friends. Although I may not have had as many adventures as the other, better known, members of the LP Club I have been on the look out for strangers acting suspiciously for the last 43 years ! I know that there are many other secret members of the Lone Pine Club out there and I believe it is time for us to emerge from the shadows and stand firm.
Ben Morris 

Back to Collecting Books & Magazines index page