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A Traveller in Time - Book Review

Time Travel has always fascinated me, and I believe its down to This book A Traveller in Time which began my years of studying.

A Still from the series A Traveller in Time 1978  Penelope Taberner Cameron played by Sophie Thompson

A Still from the series A Traveller in Time 1978 Penelope Taberner Cameron played by Sophie Thompson

A Traveller In Time by Alison Uttley

I recently made a magical discovery. I found the book that changed my life when I was seven years old.

I know I was seven because it was given to me as a birthday present. Back then, children's books seem to be 'older' somehow- much more adult than the children's books of today. I remember that day well. I unwrapped the book with great excitement. If I didn't get a book for my birthday or Christmas I was so disappointed.

But this day was magical. It was a hot sunny day in June, the sun was shining as I grabbed my new book and headed outdoors to sit under the tree.

That's how amazing this moment in time was.

So what was it that changed my life? How could a book make such a difference?

A Traveller/Traveler in Time.

The book was called a Traveller in Time. What was special about it? Well for starters it got me on the trail of loving time travel and anything to do with it.

Up until that point I had never heard of such a thing, but I had loved history since I was a tiny child, goodness knows why! And my main love was the 16th Century. Then along came this amazing time travel book with history thrown in and voila' that was it!

All because of this little paperback book I have grown up studying history, loving physics and watching anything and everything to do with astronomy, atoms and space! Wow, all because of a book? They say words can change a world, and boy it did that!

I searched for over 40 years to try and find this book as I grew up. Nothing. Then about 6 months ago I went into a brand new book store in my town and there, on the shelf sat A Traveller in Time! Now I wasn't sure at first if that was the right one, purely because I didn't remember the title.

But the second I saw it I knew! I checked the date it was written. Yes! 1939. And the name of the author. Alison Uttley.

I found it! I was so excited! Since then I have read it three times. So what's so special?



The real Babington house in Derbyshire.

The real Babington house in Derbyshire.

Penelope sighed:

“I lifted the latch and stepped down the little stairway into the corridor of time.” Of Mary Queen of Scots she says;

“she was alive, but she was dead, and always she was immortal.” “It was neither dream, nor sleep, this journey I had taken, but a voyage backward through the ether.”

The Story of Penelope and the Babington's

First of all the words are so magical. Each and every page is like honey dipped in sunlight. Alison wrote in a way that we would all love to write.

The way she describes the farmhouse with its flaming fireplace. The kitchen with the smell of apple pies, and the lovely warmth of Penelope's uncle Barnabas. Then there was the Babington family who had lived in Thackers farmhouse over four hundred years before.

The story centre's around Penelope Taberner Cameron, who lives in London. She is rather a sickly girl so her parents decide to send her, her sister Alison and brother Ian to their mother's aunt Tissie and uncle Barnabas who live deep in the countryside in a lovely farmhouse named Thackers.

A Traveller in Time Penelope finds the past.

A Traveller in Time Penelope finds the past.

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When they arrive they are met by aunt Tissie and Uncle Barnabas, and are quickly swept up into their arms, given a great big smacking kiss on their cheeks and taken to their bedrooms to get changed and then come down for supper.

The house is warm and friendly with candles and shadows, the hearth ablaze with colour and warmth. But as Penelope starts to feel at home she is aware of some other time overlapping her own.

At first the shadows look as though they are moving, and soon she starts to hear music coming from the church, and when she looks there is nobody there.

The first glimpse she gets of the Babington family is when she opens a door that she hasn't seen before. And there before her are three ladies wearing long dresses in the Elizabethan style. They are sitting round a table playing a game with ivory counters.

Penelope is startled and says, sorry quickly before they have a chance to speak.

. “They were young and pretty. Their dresses were made of stiff brocade and their pointed bodices were embroidered with tiny flowers. On their heads they wore little lace caps. Each wore a narrow lace tucker around her neck, and rings glittered on white hands.”

Mary Queen of Scots

Mary Queen of Scots

What Penelope doesn't know at this point is that she has fallen into the 16th Century and straight into the Babington plot to help Mary Queen of Scots escape from her prison and flee to France!

As time goes on Penelope slips more and more into the past where she meets Anthony Babington who is one of the leading characters in the plot to free Queen Mary of Scotland and kill Elizabeth 1st.

Penelope realizes that things are going to go wrong, but the more she tries to remember, the less she can see of the future and Anthony Babingtons downfall. It seems as though a mist clouds her mind when she tries to think.

She becomes more and more embroiled in the past, beginning to hate it when the present takes over. And she has another reason for loving the 16th Century.

Frances Babington. The brother of Anthony has taken a fancy to Penelope and the share their first kiss.

. “I didn’t want to lose this possession of mine, which gave me the power of passing into other layers of time, to share the lives and loves of those who dwelt here. I went out of the room with aching heart….

Penelope sees Mary Queen of Scots in the window

Penelope sees Mary Queen of Scots in the window

This magical book was originally written for children, but the style of writing is of its time, which gives it that added sparkle for adults. In fact as an adult I believe I enjoyed it more. There are so many poignant phrases and scenes in the book.

I particularly love the bit where Penelope is so excited to go and visit the old castle where Mary Queen of Scots is being kept prisoner. In her own time period they set off only for Penelope to be so disappointed because the old place is now only a ruin.

Sneaking out the kitchen door of the adjoining cottage she creeps across and suddenly sees Mary Queen of Scots through a window. She then realizes that she has in fact stepped back in time once again!

Simon Gipps - Kent as Frances Babington in A Traveller in Time

Simon Gipps - Kent as Frances Babington in A Traveller in Time

The more Penelope stays in the past the more she tries to change the outcome. Anthony Babington and Frances are both caught up in the Mary Queen of Scots conspiracy, and however hard she tries Penelope cannot quite remember what is going to happen.As the past beginnings to run its course Penelope has to make a choice. Leave or stay?

One of the most iconic tunes of the 16th Century was Greensleeves written by Henry VIII for his then lady friend Anne Boleyn. This tune is woven throughout the story, and is prominent in the new DVD A Traveller in Time. So I thought it was only fair to add it here. Enjoy!

Alison Uttely

Alison Uttely

Alison Uttley

Alison Uttley

We hear a lot about Enid Blyton, but for some reason the name Alison Uttley is pretty much unknown.

Which is strange as she wrote over 100 books for children and adults. She is mainly known for her little grey rabbit and Sam pig books.

Alison was born December 17 1884 and died May 7 1976.

She was born Alice Taylor and lived at Castle Top Farm in Cromford Derbyshire England.

You can read more about her here: The Alison Uttley Society.

Alison went on to write lots of books but never enjoyed the same amount of fame as Enid Blyton which was such a shame. In fact at one stage they lived near each other and as history tells it, they were never very 'fond' of each other!

A Traveller in Time was serialized back in 1978 and has recently been released on DVD at Amazon.


In a sense this is a time travel story within another time travel story. It was written in 1939 and set in 1934 when the world was slower and things were more peaceful, for a while at least. The reader gets to see the countryside and pace of life in the 30's as well as the 1500's.

Both times have sadly gone now, and with the hustle and bustle of the modern world its lovely to step back and enjoy both of these long forgotten times.

© 2016 Nell Rose


Nell Rose (author) from England on November 26, 2018:

lol! thanks Susan, I did wonder. I will go and look for it, and thanks again.

Susan. on November 25, 2018:

I have just realised that not only did I not include the authors name but also managed to spell the title incorrectly.

Its called Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park and is set in Sidney Australia.

Its nice to know others share your love of a particular book.

Nell Rose (author) from England on November 23, 2018:

Thanks Susan, isn't it amazing how a book can do that to us? that's great that you have read it to! And Yes I will definitely look that Australian book up, thank you!

Susan on November 23, 2018:

Dear Nell.

I read this book in 1970 when I was twelve years old. I borrowed it from my school library, I have read it at least once a year since. Luckily I have bought my own copies from a second hand bookshop.

I have loved it and its characters ever since.

You may want to read an Australian book called playing Beatty Bow it is of a similar bent when the character is transported back in time.

I also loved Alisons book a Country child.

Nell Rose (author) from England on September 30, 2017:

Thanks Glenn, it was a great book and it introduced me to my two loves. Quantum physics and history!

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on September 29, 2017:

I find it fascinating to dig up a book from our childhood and reread it. If done that too, just to bring back memories and rediscover what I may have learned and forgot.

I never heard of The Traveller in Time, but now I want to read it. It's interesting that it was a children's book, since, as you said, it's more of an adult story.

The way you describe it, I can see that it might be overkill for a young child. They probably wouldn't have gotten out to it as much as an adult might have. A child probably will miss many of the lessons of history in the story. That's why it makes a lot of sense to find old books we adults had read when we were young, and find out what we missed the first time.

I'm also interested in physics and astronomy, just as you are. So this book sounds like one I would definitely want to read.

By the way Nell, you did a great job writing this book review. You even included a review of the author. Well done.

Nell Rose (author) from England on March 01, 2017:

Sorry Thelma, this went into the spam folder! thanks for reading.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on February 06, 2017:

What a wonderful review Nell. This is the kind of story I love to read. I have never heard of this book and now I want to have it and enjoy reading it. I did not know that the Greensleeves was written by King Henry VIII. Thanks for the review.

Nell Rose (author) from England on January 17, 2017:

Yes its amazing Shauna I can't say enough how it changed my way of thinking and learning! thanks as always.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 16, 2017:

Sounds like an amazing book, Nell. The fact that you search for it 40 some-odd years after first reading it, says a lot about its impact.

PeggyWds on January 10, 2017:

It sounds like a fascinating book. Like you I always wanted books for my birthday and Christmas presents. I probably became a nurse because of reading a series of books called Cherry Ames. She started out as a nursing student, then went on to do many different kinds of nursing throughout the series of books.

I love the Greensleeves song. Somewhere in Time is another great song related to time travel and I wrote about it in the hub about the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

Enjoyed this! Pinning to my books board.

Nell Rose (author) from England on January 08, 2017:

Hi Dianna, if you know of any children who love reading this is the book for them! thanks for reading, nell

Dianna Mendez on January 07, 2017:

I can see how this book would draw a child's interest. In third grade my teacher read a wonderful book similar to this to the class each day. I only wish I would have written down the book title. So glad you found this treasure.

Nell Rose (author) from England on January 05, 2017:

Hi Nadine, thanks for reading, that's great! she will love it!

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on January 05, 2017:

What a great book review. I have never heard of the Author but then I only read Dutch children books in my day but I knew of Enid Blyton, my kids loved reading them. I will suggest the Time Traveler to my daughter for my granddaughter in the UK who is twelve years old.

Nell Rose (author) from England on January 03, 2017:

Thanks Vellur, I really need to find some more of hers and catch up. thanks so much for reading, nell

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on January 03, 2017:

An enchanting story, I never knew about Alison Uttley. Thank you for sharing this review, I will definitely read some of her stories, they sound fascinating.

Nell Rose (author) from England on January 02, 2017:

Thanks Coolmon, thanks so much for reading, yes its a lovely book.

Coolmon2009 from Texas, USA on January 02, 2017:

Interesting article; sounds like a book I would like to read; it is amazing how a book can impact your life.

Nell Rose (author) from England on January 02, 2017:

Thanks Blond Logic, yes its weird how I had never heard of her before or since! and it was like finding an old friend, wonderful! thanks

Nell Rose (author) from England on January 02, 2017:

Hi MsDora, yes it was amazing! Its like a little treasure! Have a wonderful New Year.

Nell Rose (author) from England on January 02, 2017:

Thanks Flourish, you too!

Nell Rose (author) from England on January 02, 2017:

Thanks Ruby, yes I think I was! lol!

Mary Wickison from USA on January 01, 2017:

Isn't it amazing that one little book could have had such an impact on your life. That is yet another reason why kids should be give books as gifts, it opens up their minds unlike television or computer games.

I am so pleased you found it, it must have been like finding an old friend.

You're right, I have never heard of her, unlike Enid , I guess marketing was and still is important.

Happy New Year

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 01, 2017:

Nell, how exciting for you. It is magical indeed that a book you read so early in life influenced the person you have become and then to find the book again after so many years! Great share.

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 31, 2016:

Your love of this book shines through. It sounds like the app god of book my niece would love to read. Have a wonderful 2017.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 31, 2016:

I can envision you as a child sitting under a tree, reading about the past where I know your psyche dwells. Sounds like an interesting book and time when the pace was slower. You were probably destined to find that book. Thanks for sharing...

Nell Rose (author) from England on December 31, 2016:

Hi RoadMonkey, its wonderful! every single word is magic! thanks so much for reading.

Thanks Alicia, its pretty special, well I think so! lol! Hope you have a wonderful New Year!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 31, 2016:

This sounds like a book that I would definitely like to read. Thanks for the very interesting review, Nell. I've never heard of Alison Uttley before. I'm glad that I've discovered her by reading your article.

RoadMonkey on December 31, 2016:

I used to love reading The Little Grey Rabbit.i had never heard of this book of hers. I must find it.

Nell Rose (author) from England on December 31, 2016:

Thanks Bill, I hope you have an Awesome New Year too! and its lovely knowing you!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 31, 2016:

Wishing you a very Happy New Year, Nell! Thank you for your friendship.

Nell Rose (author) from England on December 31, 2016:

Thanks so much Martie, yes this is my favourite book ever! apart from Outlander of course but that came along a lot later! Yes Henry was a real fun guy wasn't he? lol!

Martie Coetser from South Africa on December 31, 2016:

Wow, I can image what an enormous impact 'A Traveller in Time' must have made on the 7-year old Melanie! This review now makes an enormous impact on the reader.

I have forgotten that Henry VIII was the writer of Greensleeves. He was a formidable character who had achieved a lot in his time. One of the laws he made still sends shivers down my spine. Those who are found guilty of poisoning someone have to be boiled alive in a pot of water. Go figure!

I also enjoyed the history of Queen Elizabeth I. In fact, I was, at a time, hooked on the history of England's monarchy.

I enjoyed this review very much, thanks, Nell!

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