Friday, October 05, 2007

Bern and Mary Plain

If you've come here via Google looking for information on Mary Plain please take time to read the comments. Quite a lot of history and information about Gwynedd Rae has accumulated there.

January 2016:
CJB very kindly sent photographs of Gwynedd Rae and has allowed me to include them here (see below)!
 

These two cards are a little out of keeping with my usual choice. They are of the Café-Restaurant Zytglogge in Bern around 1947. Rob chose them and gave them to me to prepare, asking me “Where on earth is Bern?” I know where Bern is. Bern is a very special place to me although I’ve never been there. There used to be bear pits in Bern and a very special bear called Mary Plain lived there until one day the Owl Man took her in his car to live with the Fur Coat Lady. If you know Mary Plain you will know what a svisit is. Mary Plain was written by Gwynedd Rae, the book I read came from my grandmother’s house and I loved it dearly. My mother leant it to someone and we never got it back. The books are out of print today and you have to be very rich, like the Fur Coat Lady, to buy a copy.




I’ve spent a very enjoyable morning looking up Mary Plain thanks to those cards. A question for Peter: Was Mary Plain Swiss? I haven’t been able to find much out about Gwynedd Rae.

26 comments:

Titania Starlight said...

Wow! I would have loved to have dined there. I clciked to see the room up close. Exquisite woodwork.

Worldman said...

Well, I don't know whether she was a Swiss. I don't even know her. I will make some research. But what I know is that besides the bear pit is the "Old Tram Depot" which has become a popular restaurant and meeting point. They brew their own, very excellent, beer. And I attended there a beer brewing course. And am now a amateur brewmaster. Which could help me here. But then, there is no "matière première" to be found and I would be in trouble with the law if I started to make beer here. Apart from that, the place you show is lovely and as Titania says, it would be nice to dine there. And Bern has many other place like this. My favorite is the Kornhauskeller.

Anji said...

Titania: We'll go there one day! I can smell the beer and good food.

Peter: I just knew that you'd have something interesting to say about Bern. I have a feeling that Gwynedd Rae might have been English.

Perhaps we could all have a 'blogger's night there?

Claire said...

[Just stumbled across this when googling for Mary Plain]

Mary Plain was Swiss, though I don't think Gwynedd Rae was. But after the first couple of books Mary left the bear pits in Bern and went to live in England with the Owl Man. In one book she is s'visited by the twins, Marrionetta and Little Wool, who get into scrapes because they only speak 'Swiss'.

Oh, and the bear pits are still there, and still have bears in them. Or at least they did a couple of years back when I went to Switzerland on holiday and dragged my husband to Bern just to see the bears.

Anji said...

Claire: Thank you for your comment. We only had the first book at home so it was interesting to read from you what happened after! I've noticed that quite a few people come here looking for Mary Plain and Gwynedd Rae. It really was a special story

Anonymous said...

Gwynedd Rae was English. She was born around 1895, and died in the '70's. She had long red hair which she cound up into a bun, and which stayed kind of red until she died. She never married, she wrote lots of Mary Plain books and a few other novels. She was a good mimic and actress, and could be very funny, although she was, at least in her old age, quite eccentric. She was my great-aunt, that's how I know these things..........

Anji said...

Anon: Thank you for your information, I appreciate it and I'm sure that the many people who come via Google looking for information on your Great Aunt will be happy too. She created a little bear that was very special to a lot of children.

Anonymous said...

<<>sniff<>> I miss Mary Plain, she was the best. And I'm not surprised to read that Gwynedd Rae was "eccentric" in her old age.

Anji said...

Anon: I do too. When I was a child I didn't know anyone else who knew Mary Plain. She was well loved, I'm still getting lots of people from google looking for her.

Rick said...

I know this blog entry was posted ages ago, but I’ve just found it as I was Googling Mary Plain myself! Did you ever manage to track down a copy of the book in question? I think from your description that it was “All Mary”, and it’s currently available from Amazon for £7. Another question – have you been to Bern yet? It’s really beautiful and pretty much unchanged since those books were written, and the bear pits are still there.

My mother read the books when she was a child in the 1930s and passed on her love of them to me. Fortunately a lot of the books were reissued in paperback in the late 60s so I’ve got quite a collection – and I frequently return to them for light entertainment!

Anji said...

Rick: I'm still getting plenty of svisitors to this post. I haven't done anything about buying a copy yet and I haven't visited Bern - yet!

Did you read the other comments? I get a lot of real history in the comments of my posts.

I'm pleased to see that you are like me, returning to childhood favourites.

Thank you for your comment

Rick said...

My pleasure! Yes, I did read the other comments and was particularly interested by the one from Gwynedd Rae's great-niece or nephew. I was actually looking round the web to see if there was any information about her - I'd love to know more about the person who could write such funny and entertaining books - and there's virtually nothing out there.

I also meant to add that I love the pictures of the Zytglogge and, like Titania, would love to have dined there - luckily there are still some places in Switzerland that are a bit like that (there's a particularly nice one in Lucerne that also has wood all round the walls).

Anji said...

Rick: When we all meet up, with Worldman as our guide (he's Swiss) you wil be invited!

Sometimes I come across people or events on my postcards and can't find anything online. I try to write what I know here so that it shows up on Google and draws visitors who hopefully add their information. I had a family reunion in my comments box once, distant cousins of an obscure artist with an unusual name!

Emmuse said...

I've recently bought a copy of All Mary having had fond memories of it from my childhood. I've been trying to search for information on the author, Gwynedd Rae, and there's hardly anything at all accessible on the internet. What a shame. Would love to hear more from anyone who knows of any other sources of information about her and indeed from the relative who made a post on this blog some time ago.

Anji said...

Emmuse: It is frustrating, isn’t it? Gwynedd Rae sounds exactly the right subject for an interesting biography. I’m afraid that unless her relative is subscribed to my comments and sees this, I have no way of contacting them

Kath said...

G'day Anji - there are three bears now in the recently-rejuvenated bear enclosure which is right next to the river and not in the actual bear pit. They're all honey-coloured and rather adorable to watch - even reminding me of my own dog Milly.

Anji said...

Thanks Kath for keeping the bear story up to date!

Anonymous said...

There is indeed little information about Gwynedd Rae that I can find, either. But here is some more, at least:

http://abitofhistory.net/html/rhw/body_files/r_body.htm

"Rae, Gwynedd – (1892 – 1977)
British children’s writer and activist
Gwynedd Rae was born (July 23, 1892) in London, the daughter of a stockbroker. She attended school at Brondesbury in London prior to travelling abroad to finish her education in Paris. During WW I Rae worked with the VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) in Kent and then became a social worker for the Girls Diocesan Association and the Invalid Children’s Association. Rae published over a dozen novels in the popular Mary Plain series of children’s books (1930 – 1965) about a bear such as Mary Plain in Trouble (1940) and Mary Plain’s Big Adventure (1944). A selection appeared in The Mary Plain Omnibus (1976) and she published two volumes of adult fiction And Timothy Too (1934) and Leap Year Born (1935). Gwynedd Rae died (Nov 14, 1977) aged eighty-five."

"activist"? The plot thickens...

I loved the Mary Plain adventures as a child. As I recall, some of them took place in England where she visited Harrods, the old London department, store with her friend the Fur Coat Lady and the Owlman. My mother used to take me there after the War.

Anji said...

Anon: Thank you for taking the time to share the information you have found. Almost everyday Mary Plain fans visit this post via Google. I hope that they take the time to read this far.

Kate Harrison said...

Gwynedd Rae lived in Burwash in Sussex, as did my grandmother. In the 1950's I remember going to Miss Rae's house and seeing various items that feaured in the Mary Plain books, including Mary herself (at least a teddy-type Mary). Miss Rae was of course the fur-coat lady and I saw the fur coat too!

Anji Knutsen said...

Kate: thank you very much to your interesting contribution to the Mary Plain saga!

Anonymous said...

For some reason I was thinking about the Mary Plain books, which I used to read in the 1960s (from the library).
I remember the Owl Man and the Fur Coat Lady - not much else, though I used to like the stories.
Christine

Anji Knutsen said...

Christine: Thank you for your comment. Yes they are my most clear memories too. What mental pictures those names inspire!

CJB said...

Hi
As a collector of photographs i have an album of Gwynedd Rae's... ...she seemed to be the photographer and very few of her exist in this album... ...does anyone have a photo of her? When my webwizard daughter next visits i'll see if we can send the photo to Anji to share here...

Mary C. said...

Hi, I found your page by Googling for Mary Plain. I thought you might like this link I found:

http://www.alibris.com/search/books/author/Gwynedd-Rae?aid=4098114

I loved Mary Plain. I didn't see my mother very much while I was growing up, but when I did, she read Mostly Mary to me. I can still hear "The Tale of Bunch" in her voice. I loved Mary Plain, but didn't know about the other books.

Thank you for having such a nice website!

Mary

Anji Knutsen said...

CJB: That would be lovely, thank you!. Hopefully someone with a picture will find this and share. I'm dependent on Webwizard children too.

Mary C: Thank you for the link. I didn't realise that there were so many books! It's a pleasure to know that visitors enjoy their visit, thank you!