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Royal Navy Ships & The Gruffalo honoured in our new issue

We know we’re a bit mad putting out three issues at once, but thankfully there aren’t huge – so hopefully won’t be too overwhelming! We do have a few big issues coming up – and I am including special offers with these, so please keep your eyes peeled for the flyers!

Hopefully, you will have found the new inserts to be much better than previously. They are bigger, and fit the envelope fully, meaning they should be much stiffer to help insert to any albums you may use.

The Royal Navy – origins

Known as the ‘senior service’, the Royal Navy is the oldest of the British armed forces. A permanent navy fleet, named the Navy Royal, was established by Henry VIII in the 16th century, as he was aware of the growing importance of naval power. The fleet was supported by the development of the Royal Dockyards, where the ‘King’s ships’ were built, equipped and maintained. This enlarged fleet required a more developed administration which eventually saw the establishment of the ‘Navy Board’.

When Civil War broke out, the Commonwealth regime created the most powerful and effectively run fleet Britain had ever seen. When King Charles II came to the throne in 1660, he inherited a huge fleet of 154 ships. This was the beginning of the permanent and professional Royal Navy as we know it today.

Alex Scheffler

Born in Hamburg, Germany in 1957, Alex Sheffler knew from an early age that he wanted to draw. He applied to an Art School to become a teacher, but was rejected, so he decided to study History of Art at the University of Hamburg. However, he soon found out that he wasn’t an academic so left without completing the course.

Instead, he spent a year doing alternative National Service, which is not the army but working with mentally ill people in their homes. During the holidays, Scheffler would visit a friend in England, who was studying at an art school; this gave Scheffler the idea to live abroad, so applied himself and got in. In 1982, Scheffler moved to the UK and attended Bath Academy of Art in Corsham, Wiltshire. It was during this time that he decided to become an illustrator.

Alex Scheffler has been an illustrator of many children’s books, but is mainly known for his partnership with Julia Donaldson, who came up with the story of The Gruffalo in 1999. Since them, they have produced many books together, but The Gruffalo has been their most popular so far.

Did you know…?

  • The ‘Mary Rose’ was one of Henry VIII’s ‘great ships’ and was named after his favourite sister, Mary, and the Tudor emblem of the rose.
  • ‘Soverign of the Seas’ was known by the Dutch as the ‘golden devil’, on account of her all black and gold appearance. Designed in 1634, she was the first ship to have three full gun decks, carrying 102 guns (on orders of King Charles I) instead of the 90 originally planned.
  • In 1807, the UK became one of the first nations to end its own participation in the slave trade. The passing of the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade initiated the longest campaign in the Royal Navy’s history.
  • The Gruffalo was inspired by a Chinese story about a little girl who escapes being eaten by a tiger, by claiming to be the formidable Queen of the Jungle.
  • Julia Donaldson, the author of The Gruffalo, finds it easier to write in verse, and has written more than 200 books.
  • Alex Scheffler didn’t actually enjoy drawing The Gruffalo as he found it incredibly hard!


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