Bobby Brewster

I'm at my parents' house for the evening. I just got off the phone to Jen. She had sardine sandwiches for tea. I pointed out that sardine sandwiches were a particular favourite of mine and Bobby Brewster's when I was a kid. “Bobby who?” asked Jen.

Bobby Brewster: the brain-child of the children's author, H E Todd. He (or, more formally, H.E.) visited our school when I was about six years old. He read from his Bobby Brewster books, which we then had the opportunity to buy. I bought Bobby Brewster Detective. I loved the book, but, unfortunately, they had run out of signed copies by the time I got to the front of the queue. So my teacher, Miss Jones (who wore a mini skirt), forged his autograph for me. Damned if I know what happened to it (the book, that is, not the mini skirt).

If anyone out there has a copy of Bobby Brewster Detective, I'd love to borrow it. [I bought a second-hand copy off Amazon in June 2015.]

Published
Filed under: Nonsense

By Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.

131 comments

  1. Oh My--Bobby Brewster Fans! I can't believe it!

    I have been living in America since I was 21 (am now 45), but I lived and grew up in England. Until I was 10, I went to school in Berkhamsted, and I think the primary school was called St. Thomas Moore????? Apparently, as I just found out through the web, H.E. Todd lived in Berhamsted. I LOVED his books as a kid, and he came to our school, too. I fell in love with him! I remember sitting among a crowd of kids--and he had us all laughing so hard with a story about a cow! Anyway, all this to say, I just found used Bobby Brewster books on Alibris.com (check it out if you're still interested!), and then I decided I'd like to know more about that wonderful author who got me loving books ever since! That's how I found your page. Goodness knows who the heck you are--but you've got to be pretty darn nice if you like Bobby Brewster. Do you remember the story about a goldfish who used to give answers to math questions through his bubbles. Or the one about the ball that could find lost items?

    Oh, this is fun. Writing to another Bobby B. fan.

    I might not come back to the site, though--so if you get this, would you e-mail to let me know it reached a human being!

    Yours,

    Theresa, Sacramento, CA

  2. Another very happy Bobby Brewster fan - at last I've convinced my husband that the books are not just a figment of my imagination. Now off to check Alibris.com. Is it too early to read them to my 3 year old yet?!!!

  3. I'm sure my father, who died in 1988, would be pleased to know people still remembered his books and visits to schools. I've got copies of some of them but I can't find 'Detective' I'm afraid. If anyone is interested, my email address is: marktod@yahoo.com.

    MARK TODD

  4. H E Todd came to my school in Aylesbury too!! which I suppose is not that far from Berkhampstead. He read from a book about Bobby Brewster and his bike and he if I remember right he left it out in the rain??.......think I may have made that bit up!! We have just been talking about sardines in the office and when ever I mention Bobby Brewster having sardine sandwiches people think I am mad!!

  5. Like so many of the commentators here, I remember H E Todd coming to our school - John Scurr Primary - in 1969, and being absolutely gobsmacked to meet a real, live author. We all wrote Bobby Brewster stories for him, and a few months later, three of us were summoned to our headmaster's office and each given a letter from Mr Todd himself. He had liked our stories so much that he said he was going to revise them and publish them in a forthcoming Bobby Brewster book. Mine was all about a magic penny, the figure upon which (Britannia) came to life and granted Bobby three wishes. But though I continued to check out each new Bobby Brewster book after that, I never did find my story, or my name on the acknowledgements page. Boo-hoo! Still, it's nice to know that this wonderful, funny character (Bobby, that is, not his creator) has not been forgotten!

  6. I was thrilled when my twin unearthed these comments. We both recall a very happy time when we were taken along to hear Mr Todd read some stories. I too remember crying with laughter - though cannot now recall the tale. My small friends are just learning to read and I felt that a little Bobby Brewster might be just the thing - though the books are difficult to get hold of.
    Ah - happy days!

  7. Ah, snuggling up in bed aged 7, transported to a magical world of sardine sandwiches and talking typewriters - the stuff of childhood memories. Thank you Mr Todd - you'll always be remembered.

  8. Just re-reading 'Bobby Brewster's Typewriter', it's still wonderfully written after all these years. H E Todd came to my school in North Leicestershire in about 1984, and made enough of an impression on me that I think I read about ten Bobby Brewster books in quick sucession. Very sad to hear that he died such a short time after I met him. Much missed, and fondly remebered.

  9. TheBobby brewster story i always remember is one where people had "thought bubbles " hovering over their heads - always thought that would be quite interesting when i was a child - not sure nowadays though!

  10. H E Todd came to my school in the 1950's and I started talking to my stomach regarding sardine sandwiches. I ate thousands of them at that time but never touch them now.

  11. H E Todd came to my school in Dublin Ireland in 1972, boy did we have fun that day. His acccent was wonderful and we thought he was the man's voice from BBC television!

  12. I can't believe I've found a website where people actually know who bobby brewster is!!! I used to love those books and was quite disappointed a few years back when i couldn't find them in the library for my children to read. I can honestly say that those books started my love of all things magical.

  13. Just been sat here at work telling my peers about Vicar Hankins who used to come in to our school (Fernhurst Primary UK) every tuesday to read us Bobby Brewster stories. My colleagues have informed me that these books can bought from amazon.

    Simon UK

  14. I loved Bobby Brewster and have been searching for ages for his books.

    I'd really love Bobby Brewster and the Magic Torch.

    Maxine

  15. I loved the Bobby Brewster stories when I was a child - I even sent my own Bobby Brewster story to HE Todd after his appearance on Jackanory, and received a lovely, personalised letter in reply. I now have 3 young children (one of whom is called Bobby!) and they would love these stories - I can't believe that they have not been re-printed. The second-hand price makes them prohibitively expensive.

  16. I have two Bobby Brewster books which I kept from my childhood (priced 25p and 40p) because I thought that they were so fantastic. My eldest daughter has read them andis eager to read more. At last I now know where to look.

    Thanks

    Anita

  17. He also visited my school - anyone interested in buying a signed copy of Bobby Brewster and the typewriter??

  18. Hallo Richard, completely by chance I have just come across all these comments about Bertie Todd. Particularly touching was the one from his son, Mark.

    My parents lived with Bertie for about 16 years, up untilhis death. My mother was his personal assistant and housekeeperand went all over the country, and abroad, helping Bertie when he visited schools and spoke to the children about Bobby Brewster, and about story telling in general.

    I know how much they both enjoyed their visits and meeting all the children.

  19. H.E. Todd came and spoke at our local library in Wodonga, Australia in 1974. For a small town country kid who was a bookworm, this was a huge deal. I can still remember it clearly and how annoyed I was after, when it became impossible to borrow any of the Bobby Brewster books from the library as everyone wanted them.

  20. Bobby Brewster helped me to escape.Nice one HE Todd and respect to all his people.

    Read one a day at the local library on a tough council esate in the 60's,he got me into reading ,the most precious gift in the world thanks again HE,

  21. I remember reading these books as an 8 or 9 year old and thought they were fantastic. I remember my teacher advising me to read them and think I read all the ones in the school library! I can only remember one story though and this is the one where Bobby Brewster had a magic tube of toothpaste and he could choose the flavour each night. Bacon and egg flavour! Hmmm, Yum! At 35 I am searching Amazon so I can read them aloud to my 5 year old. Secretely I just want to hear them again myself!

  22. I remember H E Todd visiting my primary school (Moor Park) in Blackpool in the late 1960s. He told his stories and held story writing competitions with the winners named in the introductions to his books. I alwaysliked the magic piece of chalk/blackboard. I too am surprised that you do not see his books anymore. A revival is long overdue!

  23. H E Todd visited St Joseph's Primary School in Gerrards Cross in the late sixties, and I remember sitting cross-legged listening to him, totally enthralled. I'm now 46 and I think I still have his autograph somewhere in my shoebox of childhood memorabilia. I have no idea what made me think of H E Todd and the Brewster stories tonight, but like many, happened upon this site, and felt obliged to contribute. Happy days!

  24. Who remembers Mr Locarno, Bobby's teacher??

    The books caterd for pure escapism of the best kind for primary school children and yours truly was no exception!!

    I will be scouring the net looking for copies so please post any useful selling sites on here.

  25. H E Todd came to my local library in central Norwich (the building burned down some years later) in about 1967, when I would have been 11-ish. Bobby Brewster was very popular and I remember the auditorium was packed. I fancied myself as a junior writer in those days and with the librarian's help, I found his address in Berkhamsted (surely that would never happen in these security-conscious days!) and we had quite a correspondence. He was a very nice man and was extremely tactful about my terrible compositions! Unfortunately I didn't keep any of his letters, or if I did, my father threw them out a few years later with other stuff like my Norwich City scrapbooks(!)

    Something made me look up H E on google just now, not having thought about him or Bobby for at least 30 years, and I see he died in 1988. Somehow that makes me very sad, although he must have had quite a long life. The only book I can actually remember anything of is Bobby Brewster's Wallpaper but I loved them all.

  26. H E Todd came to my local library in central Norwich (the building burned down some years later) in about 1967, when I would have been 11-ish. Bobby Brewster was very popular and I remember the auditorium was packed. I fancied myself as a junior writer in those days and with the librarian's help, I found his address in Berkhamsted (surely that would never happen in these security-conscious days!) and we had quite a correspondence. He was a very nice man and was extremely tactful about my terrible compositions! Unfortunately I didn't keep any of his letters, or if I did, my father threw them out a few years later with other stuff like my Norwich City scrapbooks(!)

    Something made me look up H E on google just now, not having thought about him or Bobby for at least 30 years, and I see he died in 1988. Somehow that makes me very sad, although he must have had quite a long life. The only book I can actually remember anything of is Bobby Brewster's Wallpaper but I loved them all.

  27. I loved Bobby Brewster books too. My son is 7 now and it got me thinking back to the books that were special to me. One of my most treasured finds in the library were the Bobby Brewster ones. I definitely remember the wallpaper story! Anyway I went on to ELAN which is the online library service in Essex and guess what? They still have some they lend out-in the special children's reserve. So I requested them online, was able to pick 3 books up 2 weeks later. Now I can relive the stories and read them to my son!! Try this out in your area, you may get lucky. Happy reading.

  28. H. E. Todd came to my school, Heartherside in Fleet Hampshire, when I was 7 in 1973 and I am sure he told a story about bobby brewster and a fly. I still have the book that my parents bought me ' bobby brewster detective ' I found it again during a recent move and it is even signed by him, of all my early school days his visit was the only event I remember even after 34 yrs.

  29. I was born 1979, in Chertsey, Surrey, so too young to have had the pleasure of a visit. but I voraciously chewed through every Bobby Brewster book in Surrey in about a year when I was about 7. I love those boks, and reading people's recollections here, I'm dimly recalling some of those great ideas for stories that were in those books...

  30. Well, what an interesting collection of comments. I too met HE Todd but under slightly different circumstances.

    In about 1971 or 72, he was visiting South Africa, his brother was a news reader and announcer on the English language service of the SABC and lived in Johannesburg.

    I think it was his brother who had made the introduction to the Children's Department and they had done a radio series of the Bobby stories in 1969 into 1970. These were in 15 minutes programmes in the early afternoon for children. I met HE Todd when he was doing a reading at a local library to publicise his books and, I think, a re-run of the radio episodes. I was there to help the publicity as I had played Bobby in the radio shows.

    As I recall, we did 30 episodes altogether in three series of 10. Nowadays they would be released on tape or CD but these recordings will be long gone. I do not have even one of them myself. Thinking now, it would be rather nice to have recorded some off-air and my mother did record me in other radio plays that I did - but not Bobby.

    I enjoyed them very much indeed as it seemed very reasonable to me that, say, the bicycle would complain about being left out in the rain to get rusty! I was aged 12 and 13 when I did them and, of course, my voice had not broken.

    Much later, I realised that I had 'missed' HE Todd as I discovered that, in the 1980s, we were living within 15 miles of each other in Hertfordshire. I only learnt this when I read of his death in the local paper and was sad that I did not know that, as I should have very much liked to have met him again. On that one day in Johannesburg, he was a softly spoken and very polite man, as I am sure he was throughout.

    So, I did not read Bobby myself as a small boy but met 'him' when I was older and still able to enjoy the stories. It is lovely to learn that others enjoyed the books - and across a wide range of time - and that the books are still available. That is grand.

    I have not had children but, if I had, then I would have been sure to have included Bobby Brewster in their early reading. Boy would I have enjoyed reading those stories again!

  31. OMG. I love Google.

    I also met H E Todd when he came to our primary school in the very late 60's. I even submitted a story to him for which I got a published mention in and a signed copy of Bobby Brewster's Typewriter. I have asked my parents time and again over the years if they could find it for me in the attic with no joy. They are now moving house and have just rung to say they've found it. I actually feel quite giddy and might have to have a sardine sandwich to steady myself!

  32. wow, can't believe i've found this site. i've got an 11yr old girl, but unfortunately forgot about the brewster book until 2yrs ago, have been scouring secondhand bookstores and libraries - no joy. finally thought of amazon and foolishly spent a small fortune, not thinking of just googling for H E. wasn't there also a book with chocolate bars? or am i getting my books mixed up? the aquafresh advert reminded me again of the books and of the sheer pleasure experienced when reading them as a child.

  33. H E Todd came toAylesford Primary School in Kentaround 1969 or 70. Does anyone else out there remember this?

  34. I remember H E Todd coming to my school ( Haldane Primary School, Dunbartonshire ) in the late 60s. He stood on the stage and told us many of Bobby Brewster tales. I would love to be able to read some of them again. I live in Palma de Mallorca now, is there any where in Spain i can get them.

  35. Delighted to find this website - H.E Todd came to my school Valley Junior School Whitehaven in about 1962 Whitehaven, where we were invited to write to him to suggest titles for new stories - I suggested Bobby Brewster and the Ghost- H.E. Todd wrote a story and I ended up with a signed copy of this book together with my name in the acknowledgement - this is my moment of fame

  36. What a find- I remember H.E.Todd visiting Eastbank Primary, Glasgowin the late 60's. We too were invited to suggest titles for new stories - what I do recall more is that his visit made me head off to the library.I believe that visit encouraged me to becomesuch anavid reader

  37. How wonderful that I am not the only one who remembers Bobby Brewster and his sardine sandwiches! 🙂

    H E Todd visited my school as well - Gade Valley Primary in Hemel Hempstead, it must have been circa 1973/4. I still have the copy of the book that he signed for me and fond memories of meeting my first real author.

  38. I have a distinct childhood memory of H.E.Todd reading a Bobby Brewster story live on children's TV, and being taken ill in mid-reading. I'm sure I'm not imagining this - does anyone else recall the incident?

  39. Ayr town hall, or carnegie library

    Late 60's early 70's

    Wow, I have to check with my mother, I loved Bobby Brewster. Have been trying to explain my addiction to sardine sandwiches to my finnish wife for 15 years

  40. H. E. Todd was my beloved great uncle Bertie. I had the pleasure of staying with him in Berkhamstead on many occassions as a boy. He was a genuinly lovely man and ,as you can imagine ,story time was wonderful!

  41. Good Gods..I remember him coming to our school in sutton coalfield in the early 70s..He read Bobby B and the tin of sardines...AND Bobby Brewster and the ghost..I still remember the cover......Smashing stuff

  42. I was at Victoria C of E Primary in Berkhamsted in the 1950s and won a prize -a Bobby Brewster book signed by H E Todd. I still treasure it today. In those days you were allowed to receive a prize for doing well...

  43. H.E. Todd came to our Primary School (Fleckney in Leicestershire) in either 1972 or '73. I remember him reading from Bobby Brewster's Torch. He left a set of books with our teacher for any of the children to buy, so I rushed home at lunchtime and persuaded some money from Mum (probably about 50p for two books) but when I got back all the books had been sold!

    But I never forgot the visit and now, as a frustrated author and Internet scribe, I firmly believe my first encounter with a professional author sparked my own interest in writing.

  44. Oh what wonderful memories this site's justevoked in a nostalgic 30-something! I don't know what prompted me to remember Bobby Brewster last week, the things that jump into your mind when you're up at 4 am with a baby eh! It says a lot for the quality of the stories that I could even remember what they were called after all these years.

    So I've just googled to try to track down these wonderful books for my 8 year old as I know he'd love them just as much as I did, seems like I may have a battle on my hands to find some though!

    I'm amazed by just how many school visits the author did - it is truly admirable that he went out to so many children and touched them with his magical stories. I knowhe visited Golborne County Primary school (near Warrington, Cheshire) in what must have been his very later years as I was a pupil there between about '79-'86. I don't remember how old I was when he visited but I know I was so thrilled to hear he was coming as I was already a massive BB fan by then, and I was quite disgusted that my friends weren't as appreciative of how fantastic it was going to be for him to come to read to us. After he had been though I know that a lot more of my classmates becamefans too.

  45. I was a friend of Christine Johnson (Snowden) who's parents lived with Bertie Todd in Berkhamsted. They were a lovely couple and Bertie was a very nice gentleman. My son Alastair remembers him well.

  46. I too have a childhood memory of the reader of the Bobby Brewster stories being taken ill as he was reading on bbc television, sometime during the 1950s. I was amazed to read Steven B's comments above, as this had quite an effect on me when I was a child! Periodically over my life I've recalled this and wondered what happened to him. Iremember him putting his head in his hands, saying "oh God!" and then the screen went blank, it obviously quite traumatised me to have wondered about what happpened to him for so many years! Does anyone else out there know what happened?

    Susan W. Brighton, Sussex, England.

  47. I've just read 'anonymous' (ie Susan W from Brighton)'s note and am pleased that I didn't imagine it. Hopefully someone will know more - and confirm that it was actually H.E. Todd himself.

  48. just been going through my old book collection in my mothers house, and found half a dozen old bobby brewster books.

    does anyone know if there is a market for them.

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