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Sheila Hodgetts


27th January 1924 – 7th December 2021

It is with sadness that we announce the passing of Sheila Hodgetts; the much loved author of

Toby Twirl on 7th December 2021, Sheila passed away peacefully aged 97

in the West Midlands, UK.


Earlier News:

Toby Twirl Tales No2 gets a credit check in a recent article featured in the Australian 'Sunday Morning Herald' on 9th November 2019. 'Books That Changed Me' by Catherine de Saint Phalle  ... click on link below to see this article:



And Toby Twirl gets another mention here in this 2013 Daily Telegraph article by Alan Titchmarsh about Enid Blyton's books and his own childhood favourites:

Alan Titchmarsh: Enid Blyton's books were a product of their time

Some residents of Beaconsfield are objecting to the erection of a plaque to commemorate Enid Blyton, on the grounds that her books were 'racist and offensive'. But to judge her books by the standards of 2013 is unfair.

Summer holidays are a wonderful time to read books with your children Photo: Alamy

By Alan Titchmarsh

10:19AM GMT 27 Feb 2013

Like many folk, the only time I can reliably settle down to a few pages of a book – aside from when I am on holiday – is at bedtime. The pile of volumes grows ever taller, until every month or so I am forced to have a cull lest the whole lot should topple to the floor. My choice of reading matter is wide – everything from biographies to the classics, from art and architecture to interior design, from auction catalogues to Country Life.

This love of "a book at bedtime" dates back to childhood, when one or other parent would sit on the edge of the bed and read for as long a time as their household chores or patience would allow: "Toby Twirl and Eli Phant and Peter Penguin, too, Went out to gather blackberries which in abundance grew."

I have not seen the book for 50 years or more but the words remain indelibly printed on my brain.

Full Daily Telegraph article link here below:



But the award for one of the strangest and under researched articles about Toby Twirl and his author Sheila Hodggetts must go to the The Independent Newspaper journalist Christopher Fowler, for his Sunday 17th November 2013 article "Invisble Ink No - 199: Sheila Hodgetts", from this it's obvious that Christopher Fowler clearly didn't realise that this website was still active and that 'The Toby Twirl Collector's Guide Book' was still available and contained much of the missing information he was seeking! ...

Invisible Ink: No 199 - Sheila Hodgetts

 Christopher Fowler

·       Sunday 17 November 2013 01:00 


    This is a first; I can’t discover anything about Sheila Hodgetts at all. It’s as if she hid herself entirely. There once was a collectors’ guide to her books which had some biographical detail, but that’s out of print, and even her website has closed. More worryingly, the site owner is offering his complete collection of Hodgetts books for sale.

I have never been quite so stumped by an author, but I remembered her strange tales from childhood, and online bookshops were able to track down a much scribbled-upon copy. Although it was dateless, the poor paper quality suggested that it was printed in the early 1950s, when decent stock was hard to come by, and therefore expensive.

This would have been the era of books you could paint by adding water to the impregnated pages; the time of Rupert Bear and Noddy, characters who lived in odd pastoral neverlands that existed somewhere between Narnia and the Home Counties, comforting and safe havens for young imaginations.

But whereas Rupert and Noddy’s homelands were fairly well-defined, Hodgetts’ were a little more slippery. Her hybrid hero was Toby Twirl, an upright pig in patched dungarees, with human hands and feet. His sidekick was Eli the Elephant, dressed in a smart jacket, grey trousers, and shoes, and there was a penguin called Pete. Like Rupert, they spoke in rhyming couplets and lived in one of those attractive towns with an inn, signposts, and a clocktower. But in Toby’s world there were also witches, wizards, giants, elves, castles, mermen, gnomes, and dragons. Some of the stories take place in Dillyland, a Lilliputian landscape reachable by a miniature train. Even though there are villains and obstacles to overcome, the Toby Twirl books exude a powerful atmosphere of homeliness, security, and warmth.

Defining these characters and their settings are many beautifully evocative drawings by Edward Jeffrey. He excels in visits to enchanted isles, and there’s a trip to Candytown, conjured up in the strange pastel tones of cheap post-war confectionary.

Hodgetts’ character proved immensely popular and her many volumes included regular annuals. The one I have features a Toby Twirl theme song printed with the sheet music, which assumes we can all read music – and perhaps the well-mannered children at whom the books were aimed could do so. The adventures are all out of print, but I don’t see why these utterly charming volumes shouldn’t become highly desired once more.

 Actual Independent newspaper article link here below:




New books originally published by Toby Twirl Ltd and other Toby Twirl items are still available by private sale ... you can purchase via our current listings on eBay by clicking here >< or enquire directly to info@tobytwirl.co.uk

We are sorry to report that Toby Twirl Ltd has now closed down, however, this website will continue to provide collector's with information on the original Toby Twirl books for as long as possible ... please see the 'Book Gallery' and 'Rarities' pages as usual for all your Toby Twirl book identification information.

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For Toby Twirl's 'Blog Spot' visit  (click) here ... http://tobytwirl.blogspot.com/2010/03/toby-twirl.html



The one that got away! ...



 Update: Unfortunately our plans to produce the above bumper packed 'Summer Special Edition Toby Twirl Adventures Activity Book', to compliment our 'Special Winter Edition' (below), have now been shelved due to the disappointing number of advance orders placed.




The "Stablemate" of Rupert & Noddy is now back after 50 years to complete the Vintage Trio. 
This very special limited edition A4 sized full colour book is the first new Toby Twirl publication since 1958!  It's a children's 'Christmas story and Activity Sticker Book' that retains all of the original timeless charm and magic of Toby Twirl and yet successfully combines this with the modern genre of children's sticker activity books.
The Sticker Book is packed full with plenty of festive fun and reading for children aged 4 to 8 yrs (not excluding parents, grandparents or Toby Twirl collector's of all ages of course!) and features the following:
  • Toby Twirl and the Reindeer - Story by Sheila Hodgetts

  • Toby Twirl and Friends Stickers - 2 pages of coloured stickers

  • Game: Potato Race - An objective challenge board game

  • Game: Let Us All Go Sledging - A traditional double paged board game

  • Sticker Landscape - Make your own picture with the stickers

  • Pictures for you to Colour - 4 pages of pictures to colour

  • Features all original artwork by e.jeffrey digitally re-mastered

This limited edition book is still available ... see 'home' page for full details.

Sheila Hodgetts interviewed at the Publication Launch of the first Toby Twirl Adventure book to be published since 1958 explained that she started her writing career in 1943 when her publishers, Sampson, Low, Marston & Co. asked her to create a character that, with his friends, would inhabit a world of magic and mystery. After much consultation with the publisher’s main artist, Edward Jeffrey, about what forms the characters should take Toby Twirl and his friends were born, and began the many adventures which befell them. Toby Twirl was an instant and quite sensational success, selling several million copies of a succession of books in the UK and Commonwealth countries. Toby Twirl was contemporary with Rupert and Noddy, and both of these are still very much in print. It seemed desirable, therefore, that the third in this very popular trio of children’s characters from that era should be available for today's children to enjoy. The magic and mystery of the Toby Twirl adventures still appeals to today’s generation of younger readers, as can be verified by Sheila Hodgetts' nine great-grandchildren, who still read the original Toby Twirl books with great enjoyment. Toby Twirl and the Reindeer–A Christmas Story and Activity Sticker Book has now been produced and published by Toby Twirl Ltd., a company in which Sheila plays a very significant part.


Sheila Hodgetts c1947 and in 2003 signing a limited number

 of copies of the Toby Twirl Collector's Guide.

Sheila Hodgetts, creator and author of all the Toby Twirl books was at the London Book Fair on Tuesday 7 March, 2006 to promote Toby Twirl Ltd reintroducing this classic character and his adventures to today's generation of children.

Sheila Hodgetts is pictured above with her daughter, Tania Hughes, on the stand at the London Book Fair 2006.
 For information regarding available Rights in all media and territories,
contact Roy Thomas on 00 44 1993 881001
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Apart from the 'Home' and 'News' pages you can visit The Toby Twirl 'Book Gallery'  to help you identify your Toby Twirl books - click on the 'Book Gallery' button at the bottom of this page.

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© Copyright Martin Hockley 2013 - 2024

All Toby Twirl Characters are from original illustrations by the Late Edward Jeffrey and are subject to Copyright by Toby Twirl Ltd.

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