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23 January 2010

Anne Bracken

Anne Bracken was born in England and immigrated with her large family to Australia at the age of ten. Though she initially studied music, she began writing and pursued it as a career. She spent much of her life on the South Coast of New South Wales before returning to England after writing the ‘Jancy’ and ‘Twins’ series, later returning to Australia after five years, realising she didn’t belong in England (Anderson 7). Bracken wrote a number of illustrated children’s books and two elder series for girls: the four ‘Jancy’ titles’ and two ‘Twins’ titles. In Singing Roads she refers to a new series about a twelve-year-old girl called Pim, to be published by Sydney Ure Smith, but these remain untraced.

Jancy Wins Through. Sydney: Jons Productions Pty. Ltd., [1945]. 253 pages. Illustrated, 4 b/w illus.

Jancy Wins Through, is the first title in the Jancy series, which ran to four titles in the late 1940s, depicting the schooldays and adventures of heroine, Jancine Mitford. Jancy Wins Through mixes adventure and mystery plots against a school background and was part of the post-war revival in girls’ school stories. Twelve-year-old Jancy is sent to live with a friend of her father’s family, while she attends Miss Grey’s School. Jancy’s mother had suffered a nervous breakdown following the disappearance of her husband during the war. Jancy gets intro trouble when an older girl tells the school that Jancy’s father was a deserter, and most of the girls avoid her. When Jancy’s aunt accuses her of stealing a necklace, Jancy decides to run away, hitching a ride with a lorry driver who encourages her to return home and sort things out. Plots involving the heroine or hero being falsely accused of theft or some other misdeed were commonly used in school stories. When the lorry is involved in a collision with another lorry, Jancy shows her bravery and courage in rescuing both drivers from the burning wrecks. Jancy returns to school a heroine, where she is no longer an outcast. When the Head discovers the real culprit in the theft of the necklace, Jancy is cleared and the thief expelled, an unusual occurrence in an Australian girls’ school story, another instance occurring in Janey of Beechlands. The story concludes with the mystery surrounding Jancy’s father being resolved. He is found, having been on an undercover mission, and the family are reunited. The finding of lost relatives was a fashionable motif in girls’ school stories

Jancy Wins Through was reprinted three times: 2nd edition: 1946; 3rd edition: 1947; 4th edition: 1952.

Jancy Scores Again. Sydney: Jons Productions Pty. Ltd., [1946]. 250 pages. Illustrated, 4 b/w illus.

Jancy’s schooldays are continued in Jancy Scores Again, which mostly centres on the mysteries surrounding two new girls at Jancy’s school. As with Bracken’s previous Jancy title, Jancy Wins Through, the school provides a background for mystery and adventure plots. The two new girls who arouse interest at the school are Giralda Channing, a glamorous American teenager, and twelve-year-old Brigid O’Brien, a pianist prodigy. Giralda rouses Jancy’s interest when she appears to go into hysterics when Brigid is playing, while Brigid and her Nurse seem to be hiding from someone. When Giralda breaks bounds to visit a gypsy camp they ask her for information about Brigid. The gypsies follow the girls during an island picnic and attempt to kidnap Brigid. The girls hide in a cave and are eventually rescued, though Giralda falls down and becomes unconscious in the drama. The mysteries surrounding the two new girls are finally revealed. It turns out that one of Brigid’s guardians was trying to track Brigid down to make her return to her musical studies. She had been a child star but had stopped performing due to ill-health. Giralda had developed a split personality resulting from the emotional shock caused when her beloved Spanish grandmother died. Whenever she heard Spanish music she became unstable, but the fall in the caves had provided the sufficient shock to reverse the damage and cure her. Many authors enjoyed using brain diseases of various types.

Jancy Scores Again was reprinted twice: 2nd edition: 1948; 3rd edition: 1952.

The adventures of Jancy are continued in two further adventure/mystery stories which are not set at school: Jancy in Pursuit (1950), and Jancy Stands Alone (195?). In Jancy in Pursuit, Jancy and Rusty spend their Christmas holidays with Rusty’s grandmother, rescue an author from a gang of kidnappers, and help clear a woman’s deceased husband who was wrongly convicted of embezzlement. In Jancy Stands Alone, Jancy is now fifteen and spends an action-packed Christmas holidays with three spinster sisters. A girl is saved from her evil stepmother, missing family money and jewels are found and a difficult uncontrollable son reforms. Jancy finds romance with a teenage boy called Geoffrey.

Related Titles
---. The Twins to the Rescue. Sydney: Jons Productions, 1947.
---. Jancy in Pursuit. Sydney: Jons Productions, 1950.


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