Portsmouth author's long-lost book about 1920s Isle of Wight childhood is published after being discovered by son

A LONG-LOST book about a Portsmouth author’s childhood has been published after it was discovered in a trunk by his son.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 4:43 pm
A book about growing up on the Isle of Wight written by Peter Lansley has been published after his son Charles Lansley found the manuscript. Pictured: Peter when he was about 27 years old, and right is Charles with the book

Written in the early 1960s, Peter Lansley’s book on growing up on the Isle of Wight in the 1920s was hidden away for 60 years.

His son Charles discovered the now-published manuscript in 2013 when clearing out the garage at his mother Ruth’s house, and was so fascinated by the content that he decided to edit it and find a publisher.

Charles, 70, said: ‘I thought it would be something nice for the family, to hand bind it to pass on for the family interest. When I read it, I could see it was something more.

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A book about growing up on the Isle of Wight written by Peter Lansley has been published after his son Charles Lansley found the manuscript. Pictured: Peter writing at his desk

‘The more I typed, I thought I have got to put this in a decent shape and get it published.’

Peter was born in 1919 at a nursing home in Queens Road, Buckland, and died in 1999 on the Isle of Wight after 80 years of varied and interesting life.

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Between 1938 and 1939 Peter was a radio engineering student at the Municipal College Portsmouth, now the University of Portsmouth.

A book about growing up on the Isle of Wight written by Peter Lansley has been published after his son Charles Lansley found the manuscript. Pictured: Peter's grandparents who brought him up, William and Harriette Stark

His course was interrupted by the outbreak of war, so Peter joined the Merchant Navy on the staff of the Marconi International Marine Communications Company as radio officer and went to sea on board M.V. Port Hobart.

While serving on MV Wandby as Second Radio Officer, his ship was sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of Iceland after being torpedoed on October 19, 1940.

He served as a radio officer aboard various ships until being released from the Merchant Navy in 1946 on medical grounds.

After this, he worked for the Ministry of Aviation as a telecommunications officer based at Eastleigh Airport, but in his spare time he was a writer of short stories.

Charles, who lives in Newbury and has a home in Shanklin, said: ‘As a child, my father was always talking about writing his book. He was very interested in writing stories and he would read extracts to us as children.

‘It wasn’t until my mum died in 2013 when my brother and I were doing the house clearance on the Isle of Wight I thought there must be some typed scripts somewhere.

‘We couldn’t find anything. We ended up going into the garage and in the corner was this very old fashioned trunk. It was all rusty and I thought I better check what’s in there.

‘There was some family history stuff and then underneath there were about 12 exercise notebooks.’

These books contained all of Peter’s writing for his book, which had been sitting in the trunk for years with no one to read it.

The autobiographical novel is written from a child’s world view, and talks the reader through Peter’s upbringing by his grandparents William and Harriette Stark in 1920s Isle of Wight.

Charles took on painstaking research through Census documents and newspaper records to learn more about the places and figures mentioned.

As the book discusses village life without electricity when the steam train ran supreme, Charles said: ‘It paints the picture of a different world.’

Pon My Puff – A Childhood in 1920s Isle of Wight by Peter Stark Lansley will be published on April 29. Visit beachybooks.com/bookshop/pon-my-puff-stories-of-childhood-in-wootton-bridge-isle-of-wight-in-the-1 to learn more.

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