Monica Edwards in 1966
image: Wikipedia

 

Monica Edwards (1912-1998) born Monica le Doux Newton on 8th November 1912 became a writer of books mainly for children. In 1947 she and her husband, Bill, whom she married in 1933, bought at an auction accidentally the 17th century Pitlands Farm and renamed it Punch Bowl Farm. The farm lies at the bottom of a valley near Thursley. The farm was in a derelict state with no mains water, sewage, or electricity. The renovation of the farm was written in her book The Unsought Farm (1954), and was her first book for adults.

She published articles and verses, and was editor of a correspondence magazine for parents for eight years. She and her husband moved to Send, near Woking in 1939, with their daughter Shelley born in 1935, and their son Sean was born in 1943. It was in Send that she published her first book Wish For A Pony in 1947.

She wrote books for children, running parallel one book based upon her earlier life at Rye Harbour, Sussex, in the Romney Marsh series (15 books), and one in the Punchbowl Farm, Surrey, series (11 books) virtually every year between 1950-1969. The Punchbowl books, (she condensed the name Punch Bowl for her books) involved farm life and animals, and some had adventures involving the supernatural, buried treasure, a heath fire, and an escaped puma.

In 1960 she was joint Children’s Author of the Year with Captain W E Johns who wrote the ‘Biggles’ books. Her children’s book Under the Rose (1968) was about a family on the then-deserted Winterfold Estate near Shamley Green.

She wrote non-fiction books on cats and badgers, and was interested in wildlife and conservation, and kept meticulous field notes from 1965-1979 logging watching and photographing badgers. The Badgers of Punchbowl Farm and The Unsought Farm can be seen in Godalming Museum's local studies library.

She was President of the Thursley Horticultural Society for some years. She fought vigorously against the 1987 proposed ‘Red Route’ for the Hindhead Tunnel, which would have bridged over Smallbrook Valley, her badger valley.

After her husband had a near fatal tractor accident in 1968 (chronicled in The Valley and the Farm 1971) they sold Punch Bowl Farm in 1970 and built a bungalow in an orchard overlooking the old farmhouse.

The ashes of Monica who died on the 18th January 1998 and her second husband who died in 1990 are scattered in Smallbrook Valley part of Punch Bowl Farm land. This valley designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland (ASNW) was left to the Woodland Trust after her death.

Her books are republished by ‘Girls Gone By Publishers’. Brian Parks has written two books, Monica Edwards, The Authorised Biography (2010) and The Monica Edward Punchbowl Companion (2012). There is website, www.monicaedwards.co.uk. An eight-page article on her was printed in the Autumn edition 2008 of the quarterly Evergreen Magazine written by librarian, Christine Butler. To commemorate the centenary of her birth a special weekend was held in Thursley.

Godalming Museum © 2012

 

 

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