The Bagthorpe Saga
is a series of 10 fiction books written by author Helen Cresswell
between 1977 and 2001. The series became the basis of a TV comedy series - also called The Bagthorpe Saga
- in 1981, and also won two International Reading Association
awards. The books were published in the UK and the United States by Faber and Faber
The saga follows the lives of the eccentric Bagthorpe family, who live in Unicorn House in an unspecified part of the UK. The nearest large settlement is the fictional town of Aysham.
Books in the Saga
- Ordinary Jack (1977) ISBN 0-380-43349-4
- Absolute Zero (1978) ISBN 0-571-11155-6
- Bagthorpes Unlimited (1978) ISBN 0-380-49296-2
- Bagthorpes Versus the World (1979) ISBN 0-340-72246-0
- Bagthorpes Abroad (1984) ISBN 0-140-31972-7
- Bagthorpes Haunted (1985) ISBN 0-340-71655-X
- Bagthorpes Liberated (1989) ISBN 0-027-25441-0
- The Bagthorpe Triangle (1992) ISBN 0-571-17805-7
- Bagthorpes Besieged (1996) ISBN 0-571-17423-X
- Bagthorpes Battered (2001) ISBN 0-340-78824-0
- Henry Bagthorpe, father of the family. A scriptwriter for the BBC.
- Laura Bagthorpe, Mother of the family. An agony aunt (under the name "Stella Bright"), and part-time magistrate.
Three of the four children are very gifted and work assiduously at the 'strings to their bows'. Boasting about their many talents is not regarded as boasting but as 'taking a just pride in their accomplishments'. Only Jack is ordinary.
- William Bagthorpe, sixteen, whose talents include drumming, amateur radio, mathematics, and tennis. He spends much of his spare time communicating with a character called "Anonymous from Grimsby".
- Tess Bagthorpe, thirteen, fluent in French, (in one book, Tess undertakes to rewrite Voltaire to get into the Guinness Book of Records), she also plays the oboe and has a black belt in judo
- Jack Bagthorpe, twelve, who has no 'strings' whatsoever
- Rosie Bagthorpe, ten, whose 'strings' include mathematics (putting her in competition with William), violin,painting and photography.
Other family members
- Grace Bagthorpe, mother of Henry Bagthorpe. She and her husband, Alfred, live with the other Bagthorpes at Unicorn House. Henry Bagthorpe is described as being her favourite son as he is always easy to goad into a good argument. However, she would never admit this.
- Alfred Bagthorpe, father of Henry. Unlike all the other Bagthorpes, he is described as living a quiet life, enjoying fishing and watching television with the sound turned off. Both watching television without sound and his ability to live a peaceful parallel life in the Bagthorpe household can be attributed to his reduced hearing - Russell describes him as "S.D. - Selectively Deaf"
- Celia Parker, daughter of Grace and Alfred, and sister to Henry. Married to Russell Parker. Their home, a short distance from Unicorn House, is called The Knoll. Celia wears cheesecloth in the manner of a dishevelled Greek heroine. She writes poetry and can finish The Times crossword faster than Henry Bagthorpe.
- Russell Parker, husband of Celia Parker. He has a large private income from "something in shares", and also enjoys goading Henry Bagthorpe into massive arguments.
- Daisy Parker, the precocious and trouble-making 4 year old daughter of Celia and Russell Parker. Goes through phases, which include flooding, arson, morbidity (described as "Intimations of Mortality" by her mother), and graffiti.
- Uncle Claud, a vicar. He is the son of Grace and Alfred, and brother to Henry. Married to Penelope, they have two children Luke and Esther. He and his family are considered very boring by the rest of the Bagthorpes.
- Aunt Penelope, an obsessive compulsive and very religious lady, who is the wife of Claud. She is sufficiently worried for her children's health that she would put all library books in the oven to sterilise them before letting her children read them. The rest of the Bagthorpes were very amused to learn that on one occasion she forgot the books, burning them.
- Luke, and Esther, Penelope's and Claud's two genius children.
- Great Aunt Lucy, an eccentric elderly relative of Henry, who lives in Torquay. In Bagthorpes Unlimited, Great Aunt Lucy visits the Bagthorpes, and her great-nephews and nieces spend the book vying for her favour in the hope of being in line for her money.
- Mrs. Fosdyke, the Bagthorpe's housekeeper.
- Zero, the Bagthorpe family's pet dog.
- Joseph O'Toole, a whiskey addicted tramp.
The Bagthorpe Saga, a six-part adaptation of the first two novels (Ordinary Jack and Absolute Zero) was broadcast by the BBC in 1981. Each episode ran for 30 minutes.