Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

The Victoria Plum books by Angela Rippon

victoriaplum1.jpgvictoriaplum2.jpgvictoriaplum3.jpg

From left to right: Victoria Plum on Sports Day, Victoria Plum and the Magic Spell and Victoria Plum and her Woodland Friends. All by Angela Rippon.

Webstats can be very revealing. People keep searching for the Victorian Plum books and finding our picture books feature, where I briefly mentioned Victoria Plum. Twenty-five years after Victoria’s heyday, and people are still seeking her out. Yet there’s almost nothing on the internet relating to our Victoria. Vulpes must rectify that.

Victoria Plum and her Woodland Friends: This is a ‘getting to know Victoria Plum’ type affair. Victoria is a tree fairy without wings. She lives in the Great Wood with her school-friend, Ben, and various talking woodland animals – there’s a strong ‘be kind to animals’ ethic in these books, which still impresses me.

In Victoria Plum and her Woodland Friends, Mrs Rabbit invites Victoria to tea and serves her delicious carrot jam sandwiches. Victoria goes boating with the water rats on a hot summer day (she’s evidently quite lazy as they seem to be towing her along). Mrs Spider weaves Victoria a spangly shawl and Mr Rabbit brings cabbage plants for Victoria’s garden. But woodland fairy life is not without its chores: Victoria looks after the baby hedgehogs when Mrs Hedgehog goes shopping (possibly for Hedgehog heels).

Victoria Plum on Sports Day: Flora Fieldmouse is surprised when a chick jumps out of her egg, during the egg and spoon race. The woodland animals go head-to-head in a sack race and Victoria runs with the foxes in a relay race, while Ben runs in the three-legged race with Harry Hare. The ‘slow race’ is won by a speedy snail, while the poor tortoise comes last. The worm and ladybird are also quite slow, judging by the picture. Victoria gives out the prizes and then she and Ben carry the sleepy young mice home.

Victoria Plum and the Magic Spell: Victoria and Ben are having magic lessons, which consist of making things disappear and reappear. All goes well until the teacher leaves and Ben decides to make Victoria’s grandfather clock disappear. Ben cannot bring it back. The magic teacher (who looks a little like a balding version of Gandalf – cloaked, white moustachioed, half-moon glasses – is very cross and tells Ben ‘never to use magic for fun’ (one wonders how one should use magic, if not for fun). All ends well when Ben manages to get the clock back and they all have a lovely tea. Presumably with carrot jam sandwiches.

Okay, I admit it, I adore Victoria Plum, I want to be her, in fact: living in the Great Wood with magical woodland friends? What could be better? For several years my parents played on my adoration and convinced me that Victoria lived in our local wood. I looked for her every time we went there. I’m pretty sure I even saw her once. Although maybe I dreamed that last bit.

Victoria Plum was a phenomenon – it even had ‘must-have’ merchandise: I treasured my Victoria Plum curtains, umbrella and bedspread. Thinking back, I’m not sure I realised Victoria was a fairy – to my three-year-old brain, she was just a lucky girl who got to live in the woods with talking animals, in a world where magic was totally normal, and in which high tea was enjoyed after every adventure.

So yes, these books might have fifteen cardboard pages, but they are certainly not to be scoffed at. More than any other fictional character, Victoria Plum woke up my imagination.

Angela Rippon. Purnell, 1983. 50p. Pagination: 15. ISBN 0 361 05724 5 (same ISBN for all three books)

LISA GLASS is the author of several novels and short stories, including SNAKE BEACH, a summer beach read for teens, just released in e-book form for the Kindle (and other e-readers via Smashwords), priced at a princely 98p.

30 comments on “The Victoria Plum books by Angela Rippon

  1. Mhairi
    February 26, 2008

    You know, I’d forgotten completely that Angela Rippon wrote those. Somehow they seem to be almost “classic”. There was a range of children’s toiletries, too, as I recall … they did a particularly nice talcum powder … :o)

    They’re very endearing illustrations, aren’t they?

  2. sequinonsea
    February 26, 2008

    Yes, so endearing! I love them. It doesn’t say on the books who drew the illustrations – it just says copyright of Purnell.

    I shall ask my mum if I had the talcum powder. I have a feeling I did 🙂

    P.S A gold star to anyone who can tell me what kind of flower Victoria wears for a hat. I’ve forgotten the name and it’s driving me nuts.

  3. Mhairi
    February 26, 2008

    Is it a convolvulus … bindweed by any other name? Or perhaps a mallow?

  4. sequinonsea
    February 27, 2008

    Bindweed! That’s it! Thanks Mhairi. Gold star 🙂

  5. rosyb
    February 27, 2008

    “So yes, these books might have fifteen cardboard pages, but they are certainly not to be scoffed at.”

    LOL!!!

    Only just got round to reading this. Very entertaining. I think I’ve missed the boat with Victoria but I still laughed out loud at your (very obviously still adoring) descriptions.

    heee hee!

  6. sequinonsea
    February 27, 2008

    🙂 🙂

  7. Jackie
    March 1, 2008

    I’ve never heard of these before Vulpes Libris and it’s definitely my loss. They are adorable! The stories, the pictures, the carrot jam sandwiches. How endearing. And a terrifically amusing review, too!

  8. sequinonsea
    March 1, 2008

    Thanks Jackie! 🙂

  9. Ariadne
    March 3, 2008

    Aw, cool! What a blast from the past! 🙂

  10. Geanti Lorraine Lightbourne
    June 25, 2008

    Victoria Plumb, these were trading items in the Bahamas along with Enid Blyton’s books as well!

  11. laura
    August 13, 2008

    i used to love the victoria plumb toiletries. im feeling a bit nostalgic and i would love to be able to buy them again. do they still make them?

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  13. Kaz
    November 12, 2008

    I would love to know if any of the books or toiletries are available to buy still?

  14. Lisa
    December 1, 2008

    Been meaning to reply to the Victoria Plum queries. I reckon some enterprising souls on Ebay are doing good trade in the books and merchandise. Worth looking out for.

    Anyhow, hello and welcome to Vulpes Libris for all of you who arrive here seeking good old Vicky Plum. Hope you like it here 🙂

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  16. Jane
    September 3, 2009

    My daughter was crazy about Victoria Plumb books and still is She fondly cares for an annual from the early 1980s. Nothing would make her part with it. I came across these comment by accident looking for images of Victoria for her thirtyeth birthday card. Can anybody help with information about more memorabelia.

  17. Jasmine edgar
    November 16, 2009

    I Just wanted to say I used to love my vitoria Plum book it was my favourite book of all time and I think Ive grown to become just like victoria i love baking for my high afternoon teas and planting veg and visiting all my friends and bringing the buns in my grannys basket lol I think they should republish these books as they are excellant reading for small chlidren teaching them whats important in life and how to be kind to nature!the write up was great and brought back all my fond memories thanks.

  18. Miemie Eybers
    January 2, 2010

    My childeren grew up with Victoria Plum.I am the proud granny of 2 grandchilderen…..little girls and the 3rd one (A BOY) on the way.I simply
    fell head over heels in love with Victoria in the 80’s and would love to have her back on the shelves in SA aswell as the fabric to do the little one’s babyrooms.PLEASE can you come back to me on this as I really want to buy the books and do not know where to order them from aswell as Ben and Victoria dolls.

  19. beverley
    May 23, 2010

    i loved victoria plum,had the curtains and bed throw,i remember it was a quite rough material,also had some of the books. I think it was Avon that used to sell the talc,perfume and clear nail varnish with a hint of pink,loved it,my mum put it in my stocking every year at christmas. would love to know if you can still buy it as have 2 little girls now.

  20. Victoria
    July 31, 2010

    Loved these books, had the umbrella and bedding! I was trying to explain to my 8 yr old why an old friend of mine still calls me Plum to this day,even though I know now I’m not a woodland fairy…. wish I could buy the set for my daughter, they are indeed timeless

  21. Lynn Taylor
    December 8, 2010

    My daughter had her bedroom complete with bedding curtains etc in Victoria Plum 30 yrs ago she now has a daughter of her own 12mths I would love to decorate her bedroom at Grandmas with Victoria Plum.
    I have tried in vain to find out where to get the fabric or duvets from.
    Help please

  22. Lisa
    December 8, 2010

    I wish I could help. I also have a baby daughter and it would be lovely to find Victoria Plum stuff for her, but no idea where you can get it. I wish I’d kept my old stuff now.

  23. Jackie
    December 9, 2010

    Have any of you checked eBay? They often have discontinued items, so you really might be able to find some stuff there, especially the books.

  24. Terry Christie
    February 2, 2012

    Angela Rippon is the author and also she has written some of the 14 Books including Riding,
    Victoria Plum for children is great stories as well,Mark Phillips;The Man & His Horses,Badminton,
    Fabulous at Fifty & Beyond and Hidden Places of Sussex.

    She is the first woman to read the national news on Monday August 18th 1975 for The Nine 0’Clock News alongside Richard Baker on BBC 1 for the first time also when she landed her first job as the reporter in Spotlight Southwest in BBC Plymouth on Thursday September 8th 1966.

    Victoria Plum is the wonderful chridren’s stories for many years since 1980 and once again to the BBC Newsreader,TV Presenter and The Famous Author of course is Angela Rippon.

    Terry Christie,Sunderland,Tyne & Wear

  25. Leah
    February 4, 2012

    I had the lunch box my mum has kept it, I have been hunting for a tee with Victoria on for about 4 yr on and off.
    I love her !

  26. Bonita
    February 17, 2012

    where can i buy victoria plum books? we used to have them as kids, and they are so classic.

  27. ambersol
    March 19, 2013

    I have a Victoria Plum china tea-set!

  28. Mrs P Emms
    May 23, 2013

    I still have my daughters Victoria Plum doll, four-poster bed complete with bedding. Wouldn’t part with it for the world. Lovely story books too. And somewhere in the family is a duvet cover and matching pillow case.

  29. Mrs holt.
    June 7, 2013

    Where can I get the quilt cover etc from, I had one for my daughter, sadly parted with it, any ideas please.

  30. Victoria
    April 8, 2022

    As a Victoria myself, my father ensured I had plenty of books and most definitely the colouring books. I don’t think they were popular in South Africa but were loved in my house.

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This entry was posted on February 26, 2008 by in Entries by Lisa, Fiction: children's and tagged , , , .

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Acknowledgment

  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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