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Verney, John

Entry updated 21 March 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1913-1993) UK illustrator and author, active in the former capacity after active service in World War Two, which he described in Going to the Wars (1955). He is of sf interest for some titles in the Callendars sequence of Young Adult tales beginning with Friday's Tunnel (1959), this first volume narrated by February, the oldest Callendar daughter, who helps uncover the true nature of caprium, seemingly a mysterious mineral found on the Island of Capria which is located somewhere in the Mediterranean and ruled on Ruritanian lines. Caprium turns out in fact to be a kind of Antimatter, a Power Source of almost illimitable potential; confused conflicts over its possession threaten to turn Cold War into World War Three. As usual with English thrillers of this era for young readers – earlier series by Enid Blyton and John Pudney are clear models for Callendars – little is made in the end of what turns out to be a McGuffin. An element of mild Satire is freshly conveyed, however, as in the third volume of the series, Ismo (1964), where the eponymous youth movement is described in terms that edge almost surreally into the fantastic. [JC]

Sir John Verney

born London: 30 September 1913

died Clare, Suffolk: 2 February 1993

works (highly selected)


  • Friday's Tunnel (London: Collins, 1959) [Callendars: illus/hb/John Verney]
  • Ismo (London: Collins, 1964) [Callendars: illus/hb/John Verney]


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