The Harcourt Burrage Family of Redhill
Edwin Harcourt Burrage and his son, Athol, lived in Redhill and were prolific writers. Both wrote boys' adventure novels and Edwin also wrote books about the local area. There were other writers in the family too.
Edwin Burrage 1838-1916
Edwin Harcourt Burrage was a well-known writer of stories for boys. Born in Norwich he went to London and became an illustrator but his talent caused him to use his pen for writing as well as drawing and he became the author of many books and magazine stories, writing 58 or more from possibly as early as 1876 to 1911.
    He seems to have moved around a great deal. In 1881 aged 38 he was living in the Canbury area of Kingston on Thames with his wife, his first child, Fernie, who was born there. and a 13 year old housemaid. Information from elsewhere says that he came to the Redhill area in about 1882 but census records show that his next two children, Margarite and John were born at Chipstead in 1883 and 1885. By 1891 he was living in Woodlands Road, Redhill, and by 1899 was at Margarets Villa, St Johns Road, Earlswood, said to be previously the home of one of the Linnell family. At the time of his death he was resident in Station Road.
     For the 'Boy's World' Vol. 5, he contributed The Boys of Marford. For 'Our Boys' paper, first published in 1886, he wrote Timothy Twister's Schooldays, and for the 'Boys Standard' he penned the successful humorous tales of Ching Ching, Bill Grunt, Eddard Cutten and many others. Other stories included Tom Tartar, The Island School and The Lambs of Littlecote.
     His stories achieved great popularity in their time. His greatest creation is said to have been the character of Ching Ching, while his acknowledged masterpiece was Handsome Harry of the Fighting Belvedere. Spangles and Gold was another celebrated work.
     A book that is said to have achieved some notoriety in the world of journalism was The Ruin of Fleet Street, published in 1881/2. Here Mr Burrage described the old Bohemian journalists who made Fleet Street their only rendezvous. For many years Mr Burrage was one of the few remaining links with this school of journalists of the 1870s and 80s.
     For some years he was associated with Mr T.H.Roberts, and during this time produced The Strange Story of Ironicus Bucephalus, the Motor Horse. This was said to have been recorded by 'Petrol', possibly a pen name, and was a vehicle for his considerable scope for humour.
     Many local historians will be familiar with Reigate Past and Present, which he wrote in about 1901 while he was a member of Reigate Council, and which has passages quoted in volume 1 of this history. In 1904 he published Reigate Up-to-date, a revised edition with local people 'Shakespearianised'. He also contributed to the Surrey Mirror. It is said that he offered his autobiography to a London publisher; whether or not it was published is unknown.
     Edwin Burrage was keenly interested in the Redhill Literary Society and was for many years its librarian. He was a member of the Redhill Improvement Association and, being keen on Sport, was President of the Holmethorpe Cricket Club. Very active in local affairs of all kinds he was also a Freemason.
     He married Alice, date unknown, who was around fifteen years younger than her husband. She remained a widow for 30 years after his death, dying in August 1943 aged 89. They had five sons and two daughters.

The Examples of the front covers of a few of E. Harcourt Burrage's book appear further down the page

Athol Burrage 1899-1951
A brother, a nephew and two or more sons and at least one of Edwin Burrage's daughters were also writers although the one who really carried on the family trait was Athol Harcourt Burrage, his youngest son and the only one of his offspring to settle permanently in Redhill. Athol was the author of a considerable number of books between 1928 and 1953; mostly, if not all, also stories for boys.
     Another family trait seems to have been travel. His brother John went to Canada and Athol, having travelled himself in Europe worked his way by liner to see him. On the way he scraped, chipped and painted the ship, the SS Cape Havre, stood watches in the engine room, and even worked on the bridge.
     Athol published his first book, The Idol of St Moncreeth, in 1924 and about 50 more air, sea and other adventure stories for boys. There were also short stories, some of which were broadcast, and one was turned into a play.
     He found the time to establish a group of boy scouts, cubs and rovers and also to be an air raid warden before WW2 started. He was an officer in the home guard and, before the war was over, volunteered for the RAF and commanded a mobile signals unit in Belgium.
     After the war he was connected with the Redhill and Reigate Young Writers Circle, which he had helped to form, and with the Liberal Party. He made a home for his widowed mother in Woodlands Road. He died three years after her in 1951.

Athol Harcourt Burrage     1899 – 1951
(Information kindly provided by Mr Gregory Philpott of Auckland, New Zealand)

Athol Harcourt Burrage was born at Margaret Villa, St Johns Road, Reigate in Surrey on 22nd March, 1899, the son of Edwin Harcourt Burrage and his wife Alice Louisa Burrage – formerly Reynolds. Athol was the youngest (twin) child of a large family. His siblings being Fernie (1880 - 1902), Marguerite (Rita) (1883 - 1955), John Alfred (1885), Constance Hilda (1886 - 1987), Norman George (1887 - 1888) Awdry Hamilton (1889 - 1917), Douglas Gerald (1890 - 1966), Alice Bessie (1895 - 95),  Noel Howard (1898 - 1910) and his twin brother Eric Harcourt (1899 - 1965). In 1911 the family were residing at 168 Station Road in Redhill. Athol was educated at Reigate Grammar School. Athol was the only member of the family to permanently settle in Redhill.

Burrage was one of a family of prolific nineteenth and twentieth-century boys’ writers with his father, sister Rita Coatts and uncle Alfred Sherrington Burrage being acknowledged as authors of their time.

In his younger days Athol travelled in Europe and then worked his passage on SS Cape Havre to Canada to visit his brother John. He again travelled to Canada (Vancouver) in early 1949.

Burrage established the 28th Reigate Boy Scout Group (including Cubs and Rovers sections) in October 1923 with a strength of six boys, using the old Mission Hall in Monson Road as Headquarters.

The Troop grew rapidly and a Cub pack was started in 1923.  During the next few years the Group made steady progress and in 1929 had the honour of representing the Reigate Association at the World Jamboree in Arrowe Park. Burrage was the contingent leader. 1932 saw the Group moving into new HQs in Alpine Road. Burrage resigned in 1933. It is recognised that he used characters of boys in the Troop as models for his own story characters.

(From 1945 to 1950 the Group was registered as 28th Reigate – Holy Trinity. In 1959 its registration was changed to 28th Reigate – Redhill. In 1967 the 3rd, 4th and 5th Reigate Groups were merged to form 5th Reigate.)

Burrage was an air raid warden before WW2 started and in the early phase of the war was an officer in the Home Guard. He then volunteered for active service and served in the Administrative and Special Duties Branch of the Royal Air Force initially as a sergeant. He was commissioned as a Pilot Office (on probation - emergency) on 24th February, 1944 and promoted to Flying Officer 24th August, 1944. He commanded a mobile signals unit in Belgium.

After the war Burrage was connected with the Liberal Party and the Redhill and Reigate Young Writers Circle which he had helped to form

Burrage’s first book was published in 1925 and he went on to pen a total of 24 titles (British Library catalogue) – thirteen of these were school adventures, four were air-related and four sea-related adventures. He maintained a steady output, except for the years of World War Two and his last book was published posthumously in 1953.

Mrs. Kathleen Knight, a resident of Redhill in The Inter-war Years 1918 – 1939, reminiscences “Two well-known people that I remember coming to Shepherd's shop were novelists. One was Mr. Athol Harcourt Burrage, son of novelist father E. Harcourt Burrage. Athol wrote ‘Three Chums’ novels plus many other boys’ adventure titles. I remember that he was a short man mindful of Ronnie Corbett, and at the time lived in Wiggie Lane with his mother. He would buy the shop girls sweets for selling his books”.

Burrage died in Redhill County Hospital, Surrey on 13th June, 1951 aged 52, only three years after his mother had passed away. At the time of his death, Burrage was living at 15 Woodlands Road, Redhill where he had made a home for his widowed mother.

Obituary in Surrey Mirror 13th June 1951.

To his colleagues in the writing profession and also to a host of friends in the Borough of Reigate and well beyond its confines, the news of the sudden death, on Wednesday morning, of Athol Harcourt Burrage, at his home, 15 Woodlands Road Redhill. will come as a great shock, for he was as active as usual right up to the day of his death and in fact, visited London on Tuesday. Born in Redhill in 1899, he was the youngest son of the late Mr E. Harcourt Burrage, who, besides being a borough councillor at the turn of the century, was one of the most popular author of boys' stories. Athol, who was educated at Elmside and Reigate Grammar School, followed in his father's footsteps - and in the family tradition - and from the publication of his first book, 'The Idol of Moncreeth', in 1924, he went on to become as popular an author of buys' stories as his father had been. At the time of his death he had something like fifty books to his credit. including school, air, sea and adventure stories. In addition he wrote numerous short stories, some of which have been broadcast and one of them dramatised as a short play for juveniles. he found material, the stock-in-trade of the craft of writing, in almost everything he undertook but primarily from travels abroad to Denmark, Belgium, France, Holland, Germany and America, and on one ocassion as a member of a crew of a windjammer sailing to Finland.

An extremely energetic person, Mr A. Harcourt Burrage found time despite his writing activities and travels to play his part in local life. He was for many years a keen member of the Boy Scout movement, and established the 28th Reigate Troop within the Holy Trinity parish, Redhill, achieving a membership of sixty cubs, scouts and rovers during his regime. He was an air raid warden before the commencement of hostilities in 1939, joined the Home Guard (in which he was commissioned) when Mr Eden made his historic broadcast in 1940, and ended his war service in the Royal Air Force for which he volunteered and with which he served in Belgium as Officer Commanding a Mobile Signals Unit. When he returned to civilian life he continued to write prolifically and added to his experiences by further travelling including a visit to Canada to visit his brother Jack. He found time to help young (and sometimes older) would-be writers by his participation in the activities of the Redhill and Reigate Writers' Circle, and took a prominent part in the resuscitation of the Borough of Reigate Liberal Party, in whose cause he was a lively and hard worker. Of a cheery disposition he was a good son to his mother, Alice Burrage, looking after her devotedly in her declining years 9she died in 1949 not long before her 90th birthday) and was a good companion to all those who had the good fortune to share his friendship.

Scouting fiction books written by
A Harcourt Burrage
Title: Kop of the Secret Service Published by:   Wells Gardner, Darton & Co / Rylee (Rewards) Ltd 1951
Kop was a Sea Scout. Now there are thousands of Sea Scouts in England but Kop was one of the Senior Scouts, and even to his closest friends he was something of a mystery. Gradually they came to realise that Kop had duties far beyond theirs, duties connected with the Secret Service of Great Britain. His adventures in the performance of his duties form one of the most exciting stories ever written by the author who is a well known writer of boys’ yarns.

Illustrated are two different sleeves for the book

Title: Bravo, Sea Scouts Publishd by: Wells Gardner, Darton & Co 1952
 Evacuated during the height of the Second World War from London to Frapbay (a Devon fishing village), four Sea Scouts, under Patrol Leader Wendy Bray, carry on their own Troop. The Patrol includes Peter Gayford “Carrots” Dulake, Jimmy Marsh, and Terry Dixon.

While sailing in the bay, a brief but dense sea-fog descends. Wendy Bray boards an unmanned launch they sight during a partial and momentary lifting of the fog. Later the fog clears, but the Patrol Leader and the unmanned launch have vanished. By their ingenuity and Scoutcraft, the rest of the Patrol reveal a German inspired and conducted “sabotage organisation”, contact with occupied France (and passage, between the two countries, of highly trained personnel) being maintained by craft that are navigated and controlled entirely by remote means.


 Many thanks to Mr Gregory Philpott of Auckland NZ for the above
Douglas Burrage
    Edwin Harcourt Burrage's son John went to Canada but was not the only one of his boys to do so. Douglas Burrage, for a while a proof reader on the Surrey Mirror, had seen Lord George Sanger's Circus passing along Redhill High Street when he was only six years of age. Its colour and music, Red Indians, princesses, clowns and cowboys thrilled him and created a lasting impression.
     He emigrated to western Canada where he was a ranch hand, painter, lumberjack, author, farmhand and engineer among other things. All of this was interrupted by WW1 when he saw service with Canadian forces at Vimy Ridge, Ypres and the Somme.
     After the war he returned to Canada where he found he could draw and paint. He became involved in this activity but apparently made little money from it, getting his living by making toys and games in a factory in the United States.
     He returned to England where he took a studio in Chelsea. While on a sketching tour of Kent he not only witnessed another travelling circus but amazingly got an invitation to join it and become a clown, which he did. Combining the two activities - clown and artist - worked well for him. A water colour entitled 'A Waterfront' was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1948 and a book called 'Broken hearted Clown' was published in 1964. He was interviewed by Cliff Michelmore in a TV programme on that occasion.
A Few of the Books of Edwin Harcourt Burrage
The Missing MillionsThe Slave Raiders of
Carbinier and ScoutThe Yurra Yurra Boys
The Twin CastawaysJohn Blessington's EnemyNever BeatenThe Ruin of Fleet Street 1897
A fairly rare book. This copy is falling to pieces and has been held together with cellotape, hence the lines across the front cover.  
Reigate: Home and Foreign - Past and Present 1901   
More Books by Athol Burrage
The House of Golden Windows (printed at Redhill)Scoundrel of the AirScoundrel of the AirHurtlers Through Space
Other titles include:
Air Fiend - Smuggler's Yunker - Island Secrets - Mystery Term at Hemming - Rebel of the House - Three Chums - bending the Sails - Rival Fifteens - The Secret Voyage - Winning Through - Well Played, Sir! - Hoorah for gawthorne - The Mysteries of Saddleworth - For House and School - Cock of the Walk - Marooned Campers - Dunning's House at Dorsing - Scowbanker - Seekers.
The Idol of Saint
Other Authors in the family
Edwin Harcourt Burrage had a brother who was also an author. Alfred Sherrington Burrage wrote under the names of 'Cyril Hathway' and 'Philander Jackson.' His work appeared in boys' adventure magazines but it is notknown if he wrote any novels. Alfred Sherrington Burrage died in 1906.

Alfred Sherrington's son, Alfred McLelland. Burrage, who was born in 1890 at Hillingdon, Middlesex, also took up writing and may have been more successful than his father. He wrote for many boys' papers but also branched out into other markets. He served in the army during WW1 and wrote 'War is War', his memoirs of his army service..

No pictures of either Edwin Harcourt Burrage or Athol Harcourt Burrage are known. If anyone has pictures of them that they would be willing to supply for inclusion on this page, or has any further information to be added to the above, please contact author
To see other pages on this website go to the Home Page
13th June 2011