Ivy Wallace

IVY WALLACE Author and illustrator of Pookie children's books

Born: 7 October, 1915, in Grimsby. Died: 13 March, 2006, in Lanarkshire, aged 90.

IVY Wallace wrote and illustrated enchanting children's stories that enjoyed an immense popularity in the immediate post-war years and then gained a wider public acclaim when they were reprinted nearly half a century later in the Nineties. She also wrote stories for Christmas annuals and magazines, but Wallace was particularly renowned for the Pookie and Animal Shelf books. These were greatly enhanced by the delightful illustrations that Wallace drew to accompany the narrative. In her private life, she lived in Biggar and was a popular supporter of local causes. In Edinburgh, she was closely associated with many artistic societies and especially with the early days of the Demarco Gallery on whose board she sat.

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Ivy Lilian Wallace was born in Grimsby and educated at Harrogate Ladies College after which she trained as an actress and spent some years with repertory companies. Her father, a doctor, had enthused Wallace with a love of the countryside that she maintained - especially gardening and bird life - all her life.

During the war, Wallace made some Ministry of Defence films and then served with the police. While on long and lonely night watches, she started writing fairy stories - really for her own amusement. She illustrated them with pencil and wash drawings and these she circulated to friends. When the war was over, she sent the first completed manuscript of Pookie to Collins. Pookie was an endearing white rabbit with wings and magical powers. He flew away from his home in the Bluebell Wood in search of love and great adventures.

Collins accepted Pookie instantly and it was printed in Glasgow in 1946. Wallace was invited by Collins to see the first edition roll off the presses and there she met one of the firm's directors, William Collins. They were married in 1950 and enjoyed a most happy and successful marriage until his death in 1967.

When they were first married, the couple moved to a house near Biggar where Wallace wrote nine Pookie books and seven Animal Shelf books. The former has been the more successful with sales well over a million and Pookie clubs as far afield as Australia, Canada and South Africa. In 1947, she wrote Pookie Puts the World Right. The style, wit and sheer joy set a standard for the delightful stories that followed. Pookie flies off with his bothersome wings, finds Belinda and true love blossoms. Then came Pookie in Wonderland, and the wondrous rabbit travels far beyond his beloved Bluebell Wood and meets characters from nursery rhymes. The books were brim-full of magical imagination and the detail in the drawings was a constant joy.

So too were the Animal Shelf books about toy animals that came to life. Characters included Getup the giraffe, Woeful the sneezing monkey and Gumpa the good-natured bear. All written with great love and affection by Wallace, capturing another world with a real and charming immediacy.

However, following her husband's death, Wallace refrained from writing or drawing; it was as if her artistic creativity had died too. Pookie fans wrote in their hundreds to the publishers (and Biggar) asking what had happened to the loveable rabbit. It was not until the 1990s that Wallace relented and republished the books with some repainted illustrations. Both Pookie and Animal Shelf proved popular with a new generation of children: often read to them by parents who had loved them a quarter of a century before. The Animal Shelf stories were made into a BAFTA-nominated animation film.

But that period when Wallace withdrew from writing was of benefit to the arts in Scotland. It gave her the time to accept an invitation to join the board of the then new and innovative Demarco Gallery in Melville Place, Edinburgh. Richard Demarco remembers her as "a most effective and supportive presence on the board. She was gentle and shy but blessed with a wonderfully artistic personality. Ivy was a great support to me and reassured me about the direction of the gallery and what pictures we should be showing. She had an excellent eye for contemporary art and was a strong supporter (and buyer) of young Scottish artists.

"I remember her with immense pleasure: warm, kind and always friendly."

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Wallace was the subject of a BBC Scotland TV documentary in 1997 and an exhibition of her drawings was held, that year, in the Collins Gallery in Glasgow. She was a serious gardener - creating ponds in the garden at Biggar - and was invariably accompanied by some of her many dogs. Four years ago, she was moved to a residential home in Auchlochan in Lanarkshire.

Ivy Lilian Collins is survived by her two daughters.