Gordon Boshell was born in Blackburn, Lancashire 1 juni 1908 - died February 1991(?) and was a journalist and writer for more than 40 years. He wrote for the Daily Mail and also worked as a scriptwriter and a feature editor for the BBC.
In 1951 Boshell left Fleet Street to join The World Health Organisation as an information officer. During this time he worked in South East Asia and the Western Pacific, as well as in the organisation's headquarters in Geneva. Boshell returned to Britain in 1967 after which he and his wife lived in Wells, Somerset.
Boshell's first published book was “My Pen My Sword” a collection of poetry originally published in the Daily Mail. The book was subtitled “Bee of the Daily Mail” which may have been Boshell's alias. Boshell then published two adult novels (“John Brown's Body”, “Dog's Life”). His early works were influenced by the Second World War. For example, his poem “The Aeroplane” was written after watching the Battle of Britain dogfights from the streets of London.
On returning to the UK Boshell began writing children's books, beginning with the “Captain Cobwebb” series for which he is best known. He also wrote a trilogy of books known as “The Secret Guardians” series.
Whilst working at the Daily Mail and the BBC, Boshell co-created the “Garth” comic strip with Steve Dowling.
Children's author Andy Briggs has acknowledged Boshell as an early influence.
Boshell's books are now out of print but often fetch high prices through second-hand book merchants and in eBay Sales. Boshell still has a following with a Yahoo Group dedicated to fans who are trying to track down and rediscover his works.
The Captain Cobwebb Series
The “Captain Cobwebb” books are a series of 11 children's novels written by Gordon Boshell between 1967-1980. The main characters in the book are David & Toby Green, two brothers who live in Dingle Down village, and their Uncle Septimus Cobwebb, aka “Captain Cobwebb”.
As a young man, Uncle Septimus decided to spend all night sitting in a fairy ring. As a result he went off to live with the fairies, becoming invisible. The books usually begin with the boys getting bored, e.g. during a rainy day, or lying ill in bed, and then calling on their Uncle to send them on an adventure, usually in a far-off magical land.
In the first book both the boys and their parents contact Uncle Septimus. They boys father tell them the story of his brother going off to live with the fairies and how to contact him. By writing a letter to their uncle, burning it to ash and then letting the ashes blow into the wind, they are able to send him a message. The adventure begins immediately. After their first adventure (“Captain Cobwebb”) Uncle Septimus rewards the boys with a magical blue spot on their hand which they can touch to request an adventure.
The boys' adventures take them to various magical lands and so the books have a number of different themes e.g. Pirates, Cowboys & Indians. As well as a typical range of heroic characters, and talking animals, the stories typically include a range of more unusual characters, creatures and situations. It is these odd quirks that make the books so memorable.
Some examples of characters and creatures in the book include:
The Refined Gorilla—a talking Gorilla who escaped from London Zoo aided by an aging Admiral. After a career as a sailor the Gorilla becomes king of a city of monkeys Captain Morgan—a vicious pirate with a razor sharp metal nose who tortures his captives by pecking them; the villain of “Captain Cobwebb” The Puertl-Fowl—a bird that can only lay its eggs after dark, in the footprints of sailors Fanty the Elephorse—a cross between a horse and an elephant The Ugudugu-djuk—a subterranean hermit who digs his own tunnels underneath the desert Hildrok the Outcast—part human, part snake and part bird of prey; the villain of “Captain Cobwebb and the Red Transistor”
Wurgs—a kind of hovering flat-fish with tentacles, that live in caverns underneath the ground
The books included a number of illustrations. The first two books were originally illustrated by the author, the third by Raymond Fishwick, and the rest by Trevor Stubley. The first five books had paperback reprints by Armada Books with new illustrations by Graham Thompson. Several of the stories included maps, e.g. of Dingle Down or treasure maps. These maps were drawn by Boshell himself.
In total, Boshell wrote 11 books in the Captain Cobwebb series.