Clergyman, Railway Enthusiast and Children’s Author

Posted by Michael Pinto on Jun 15, 2009 in Pulp Fiction |

The Three Railway Engines: The first in the The Railway Series of books in which the character Thomas the Tank Engine originated

Reverend W. Awdry

Reverend W. Awdry

Wilbert Vere Awdry was born on this day in 1911, his fulltime gig for many years was serving as a clergyman (he was known as the Reverend W. Awdry after all). But luckily for us in 1943 when his son Christopher was suffering from the measles he would make up stories about anthropomorphic trains to distract him from his malady. By 1945 these stories would be turned into his first book The Three Railway Engines which was the beginning of 26 books (the last published in 1972) which were known as the The Railway Series. But it wasn’t until the second book in the series that the title Thomas the Tank Engine would be used:

Thomas the Tank Engine

Awdry was what you might call a steampunk or mecha fan — in addition to his kids books he built model railways, was involved in railway preservation, and wrote non-fiction books of (you guessed it) railways. ALthough he did once write a story on a little red car titled Belinda the Beetle which was later illustrated with a Volkswagen Beetle. A year before his death in 1997 he was awarded the Order of the British Empire and he lived to see his son Christopher continue his beloved series of books.

Thomas the Tank Engine: The TV Show

In addition to the books Thomas made his mark on the small screen as well: The first TV series hit the air in 1984 and featured beloved Beatles star Ringo Starr. Since then there have been 13 seasons of the show produced, and they’re still making new episodes. That’s not too shabby for a project that started out as a way for a father to distract his child from the measles…

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