So Much to Tell by Valerie Grove; Puffin by Design: 70 Years of Imagination – 1940–2010 by Phil Baines - review by Judy Taylor Hough

Judy Taylor Hough

Young At Heart

So Much to Tell


Viking 256pp £18.99

Puffin by Design: 70 Years of Imagination – 1940–2010


Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 256pp £20

The title of Valerie Grove’s enchanting and fast-flowing biography of Kaye Webb is entirely apt – So Much to Tell. Even those of us who came to know Kaye in the 1960s and 1970s had little idea of how colourful her life had been before she became ‘Fat Puffin’, the dynamic editor of Puffin Story Books. We knew that she had been married to the cartoonist – and Japanese prisoner-of-war veteran – Ronald Searle, and that he had left her to join his new love in Paris leaving only a ‘By the time you get this …’ sort of letter. What we did not know was that the Searle twins had first been registered as the children of her then husband, Andrew Keith, and that Kaye had been married twice before she became Mrs Searle. Once asked at a party what lay behind her success with men, Kaye replied: ‘The promise of comfort, darling.’ 

With her older and younger brother, Kaye was brought up in north London by her colourful journalist mother, their father working for the Irish Times in Dublin. Boarding school at twelve was followed by a short spell in Bruges, playing tennis, swimming, cycling, and having her first real

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