The Boy John Letters
Sidney Grapes had already made his mark as the archetypal Norfolk comedian at local concerts and dinners long before he dropped a few lines to the Eastern Daily Press in January 1946 under his pen-name ‘The Boy John’. This was the start of a twelve-year correspondence during which time 88 ‘Boy John’ letters were published. Written in Norfolk dialect, these were the work of a countryman who wrote as he spoke and spelt as he pleased, and their cast list quickly became household names: Boy John, Granfar, Aunt Agatha and the cantankerous Oul Mrs W—.
This new collection underlines the abiding attraction of the Boy John Letters. For all that they may be rooted in time and in the Norfolk countryside, they retain genuine charm: they are wholly unpretentious, gently amusing, and admirably self-effacing; above all they were written by a man who knew intimately the lives of the people he wrote about for he lived all his life among them.
Broadcaster, writer and entertainer, Keith Skipper was founder–Chairman of FOND – Friends of Norfolk Dialect. His passionate commitment to Norfolk’s cause has been underlined by his appointment as Deputy Lieutenant of Norfolk.
‘A work of not a little genius’
– Peter Trudgill, Professor of Linguistics, University of Fribourg
‘His characters were talked of as living people’
– Jonathan Mardle, Eastern Daily Press