Whose Book?

Some weeks ago I wrote of a contact who had come to me through this blog, and left my readers with the prospect of a story. This post is that story, the result of a collaboration between me and Dr Neil Gibbs.

Dr Neil Gibbs recently purchased a copy of the Bird Lovers’ Manual ‘How to Know British Birds’ from a well-known internet auction site.

How to know British Birds

He was delighted to have found this treasure,

S. Denny inscription

and intrigued by the child’s pencilled inscription inside the front cover.

Who was this young lady?

I've always kept a unicorn

The name suggested a very popular singer/songwriter from the 1960s and ‘70s; Sandy Denny. Neil sought confirmation of this by researching biographies of the Fairport Convention singer/songwriter, who made successful solo albums during the second of these decades. Interestingly, in these books the only home mentioned was Worple Road. Stanton Road is an L-shaped side road off that main thoroughfare between Wimbledon and Raynes Park.

Our researcher’s next step was to type Stanton Road into Google, which took him to my blog where he learned that I had grown up just 24 dwellings away from S. Denny.

He left a comment on my blog asking if I had known the Denny Family. I responded with an e-mail saying I had, and inviting a telephone conversation.

Without giving away his thoughts Neil asked whether I knew of a Denny family living in Stanton Road. I did, and it was, of course, Sandy who had, at least in the 1950s, lived at 53 Stanton Road. I could be sure of that.

Sandy and David Denny

I was unable to be certain whether this photograph features a Stanton Road or a Worple Road home. It could indeed be either.

I can happily vouch for the veracity of the Stanton Road address. I lived there from 1944 until 1960 when I was 18 and Sandy would have been 12.

Sandy Denny died tragically young (aged 31yrs) in 1978, but her contribution to folk music is being recognized this month (April 27th 2016) when she will be inducted into the BBC Radio 2 Folk Hall of Fame at an Awards ceremony in the Royal Albert Hall.

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 12.09.29

Link for Sandy Denny website:


Link for BBC Hall of fame: