Thursday, February 23, 2012

The King Who Lived on Jelly

I am currently digging The King Who Lived on Jelly by Cledwyn Hughes. It is a collection of short stories that was first published in 1961. Although the book was intended originally for children it also functions as a fine collection of adult-friendly fantasy tales. Characters include a king who can only eat jelly; a controller of rainbows; and a mouse that can’t say the letter ‘s’ without sneezing. The book had a paperback reprint in psychedelic 1969 which doesn’t surprise me at all as there is a trippy, lysergic quality to several of these stories. Hughes was originally from rural Llansanffraid, Powys, but went on to become a pharmacist in Liverpool. He returned to Wales in 1947 to launch his career as a full-time writer. I’ve checked out a couple of his novels from the ‘40s but to be honest they weren’t really my cup of literature. The King Who Lived on Jelly, though, is a corker. A pristine copy of the first edition will set you back a cool £100. The book was illustrated by Michael Foreman – one of his earliest commissions – which, no doubt, adds to its value as a collectible.