Serraillier, Ian – Library and Archive

Reference: IAN SERRAILLIER COLLECTIONDate: c. 1942-1992Extent: c.165

Ian Serraillier was born in London in 1912. He was educated at Brighton College and St Edmund College, Oxford, and went on to teach English at various independent and grammar schools between 1936 and 1961, when he retired. As a Quaker Serraillier opted to be a conscientious objector during World War 2.  

From 1946 he started publishing children’s poetry and stories in various anthologies and in separate volumes, some of which were later reworked under new titles: Thomas and the sparrow, They raced for treasure, and Flight to adventure. His reputation as a children’s author became firmly established after the publication of his novels There’s no escape (Cape, 1950) and The Silver sword (Cape, 1956), both of which saw numerous translations all over the world (the latter is also known under its American title, Escape from Warsaw). The Silver sword tells the story of the children of a Polish schoolmaster imprisoned during the Nazi occupation.  

In 1948 Ian Serraillier founded the New Windmill Series for Heinemann Educational Books, where he was later joined by his wife Anne, and together they continued to edit this series of affordable hardback versions of the Heinemann classics aimed at school audiences until Serraillier’s death in 1994.  

Throughout his life, Serraillier collaborated with the BBC Educational Broadcasting Services, but, after his retirement as a teacher, he increased the amount of contributions and time devoted to educational radio and television programmes constantly reworking his favourite plots and characters from Greek and Roman mythology, Anglo-Saxon legends and English as well as European folklore, and sometimes setting them to music. 


The books are fully catalogued and searchable on the online catalogue. 


See The Heinemann Educational Books Archive

And Children’s Collection at UoR


The collection contains 138 monograph titles and 10 periodical titles from Ian Serraillier’s private collection. It ranges from the first poetry anthology to include his children’s poems, published in 1942 (Three new poets / Roy McFadden, Alex Comfort, Ian Serraillier), to the first Chinese translation of The Silver sword (1992), supplemented by a contemporary review published in the People’s Daily. Apart from Serraillier’s own works there is the occasional poetry collection that inspired his work as a young poet in the late 1930s. 

The collection also includes translations of his children’s books into foreign languages (Afrikaans and German versions are particularly well represented), his BBC Broadcasts to Schools booklets, a few periodicals containing relevant book reviews from the 1960s-70s and teaching materials for primary schools to which he contributed. Additionally, there are some reference works containing entries on Ian Serraillier.