Anthony Malcolm Buckeridge was born 20th June 1912 in London. Following the death of his father, a banker during World War I, he and his mother moved to Ross-on-Wye, returning to London following the war. During this period he developed a passion for writing and the theatre and he was awarded a scholarship by the Bank Clerks’ Orphanage Fund at Seaford College in Sussex. It was here he was to get his first, first-hand experience of boarding school life.
In 1930 Buckeridge was offered a position at his late father’s bank but it was not for him and he soon chose to follow his earlier interest in acting.
Following his marriage to his first wife, SylviaBrown, Buckeridge gained a place at University College London but failed to complete his degree after failing Latin. None-the-less, classical references and Latin puns within the Jennings books may stem from this period.
By now with a wife and two children to support, Buckeridge took up teaching, in Kent, Suffolk and then Northamptonshire.
World War II was to interrupt his teaching career. Buckeridge was called up as a fireman, serving for five years (and giving him first-hand experience for a number of appearances by Dunhambury fire brigade in the Jennings books, perhaps most famously in Jennings Goes to School). During this time he also wrote a number of stage plays.
Following the close of the war, Buckeridge returned to teaching, this time in Ramsgate. It was here that he invented the fictional Linbury Court Preparatory School and he would entertain his charges with the adventures of its well-intentioned but misguided pupil, JCT Jennings and his loyal but reticent and long-suffering companion, CEJ Darbishire.
In 1962 Buckeridge met his second wife, Eileen Selby, they settled near Lewes and had one child. Buckeridge continued to write. He also appeared in small (non-singing) roles at the Glyndebourne opera house.
In addition to Jennings, Buckeridge is well known for the Rex Milligan series of children’s books. The central character is again a schoolboy, but here set in a North London grammar school.
Buckeridge also wrote “A Funny Thing Happened” which like Jennings was serialised on the radio.
Buckeridge was awarded an OBE in 2003.
Anthony Buckeridge died aged 92 on 28th June 2004.