Ents, Enchanted Trees and Magic Cities drawn by George Barraud, illustrator of E. Nesbit’s Wings and the Child 1913

A Tree Like A Man, drawn by George Barraud for E. Nesbit’s Wings and the Child 1913

Talking to Alan (the Duchy of Tradgardland) Gruber about this curious illustration in Wings and the Child or Building of Magic Cities by E. Nesbit (1913), Alan and I wondered if this was an early illustration of what would become that Tolkein classic figure the Ent, tree characters beloved of fantasy gamers?

We wondered if Tolkein had read her work or been influenced by Nesbit’s fantasies or Barraud’s drawing?

Alan Gruber has long been a big fan of Tolkein, whereas I have to quietly admit to never having read any of Lord of the Rings, failed to read even past the first chapters of The Hobbit or properly to have watched the recent films. I much prefer(red) the Narnia books, but shhh! don’t tell anyone this shameful fact.

My lazy Wikipedia research however suggests that J.R.R. Tolkein (1892-1973) did enjoy magic and fantasy stories like those of the now largely forgotten Victorian writer George Macdonald and even those published when he was a young-ish man such as the contemporary new short stories in E. Nesbit’s magical fantasy The Magic World (1912) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Magic_World

Within the short stories of The Magic World, there is one called “Accidental Magic” where schoolboy runaway Quentin falls asleep on the altarstone at Stonehenge and wakes in Atlanti. This has been seen by some critics such as Robert Giddings and Elisabeth Holland, J. R. R. Tolkien: The Shores of Middle Earth, 1981 – as exerting an influence on the young Tolkein.

Hmm. These fantastic Edwardian ‘dreamers’ – it sounds a little like a fantastical Puck of Pook’s Hill by Kipling 1906 (illustrated by Arthur Rackham).

Project Gutenberg has a handy free download online copy of The Magic City and the “Accidental Magic” story.


George Barraud’s (GB) illustration of a toy block Stonehenge in E. Nesbit’s Wings and the Child (1913) – Stonehenge features in Nesbit’s short story “Accidental Magic”.

“Mabel Tolkien taught her two children at home. Ronald, as he was known in the family, was a keen pupil. She taught him a great deal of botany and awakened in him the enjoyment of the look and feel of plants. Young Tolkien liked to draw landscapes and trees, but his favourite lessons were those concerning languages, and his mother taught him the rudiments of Latin very early.

Tolkien could read by the age of four and could write fluently soon afterwards. His mother allowed him to read many books. He disliked Treasure Island and The Pied Piper and thought Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll was “amusing but disturbing”.

He liked stories about “Red Indians” (Native Americans) and the fantasy works by George Macdonald. In addition, the “Fairy Books” of Andrew Lang [1890s-1913] were particularly important to him and their influence is apparent in some of his later writings.”

Source: Wikipedia entry on Tolkein.

The Lang Fairy Books were illustrated by H.J. Ford.


Influence is a hard thing to prove. There is a longer discussion about Nesbit’s stories and her Fabian circle and their possible influence on Tolkein as a young man and as a parent here – dragons are mentioned but not Ents:



Who was GB, illustrator of this tree?

Setting aside all the creepy trees in Arthur Rackham illustrations, I found on the book’s frontispiece that GB the illustrator or artist of this characterful tree in Nesbit’s Wings and The Child 1913 was George Barraud, active c. 1911-13.

A quick check on trusty Wikipedia suggested several people, so required some wider research – there are a number of Victorian and Edwardian painters with the Barraud surname such as Phillip George Barraud (1859-1929), FB Francis Barraud who painted the HMV Nipper dog or the Suffolk based Barraud family of artists, not to be confused with GB’s namesake the prewar 1920s-30s film actor George Barraud, 1889 – 1970]Simple objects like a clothes peg sawn in three for decorating the Magic City

George Barraud’s drawing of The Guarded Arch for E. Nesbit in her Magic City.
The Square Tower, GB – George Barraud

Biography from Moore Gwyn Fine Art:

The Tramp Magazine front cover design by George Barraud June 1910/11

Douglas Goldring’s short-lived magazine, The Tramp, an open air magazine was published in monthly editions between 1910 and 1911. Dedicated to outdoor life, it celebrated its theme through modern fiction and non-fiction, publishing work by Wyndham Lewis, Arnold Bennett, Ford Madox Ford and Arthur Ransome (amongst many others).

George Barraud illustrated a number of books in the period immediately before the outbreak of the First World War, amongst them an edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Harrap, 1913), An Alphabet in French and English (Max Goschen, 1912) and E.Nesbit’s The Wings and a Child; or the Building of Magic Cities (Hodder & Stoughton, 1913).


A fine Scouting for Boys type outdoorsy illustration by GB, c/o Moore Gwyn Fine Arts

I’m often surprised how many illustrated magazines and illustrated news papers that there were in late Victorian and Edwardian Britain and America. This market must have been a great source of work for writers like H.G. Wells, E. Nesbit and illustrators alike. This is a world of increasing literacy thanks to Sunday Schools and the 1870 Education Act, before the wireless, before television and with cinema only in its silent ‘shorts’ infancy.

Source: Berwyn Books on Abe Books

Abe Books are good for researching work by illustrators. Here is another fine magical city by Barraud in his illustrations to Sir Gawain and The Green Knight retold by John Harrington Cox (Harrell, 1913) such as sold here in Abe Books – Berwyn Books.

Another Tolkein overlap – Gawain and the Green Knight was first translated into Modern English in the late 1890s, then decades later we have John Harrington Cox’s retelling in 1913, illustrated by George Barraud. In 1925, Tolkein and E. V. Gordon published a scholarly edition of the Middle English text of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Source Abe Books seller: Ripping Yarns

The Bystander, 4 December 1912

There is little biographical information on the Internet for GB George Barraud. Any internet research keeps running up against George Barraud the theatre and film actor from the 1890s to 1930s or the other Barraud painters. There is no CWGC WW1 casualty record for George Barraud. Again, worth a future blog post.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 25 January 2021

Blog Post Script

Tolkein Estate Website – https://www.tolkienestate.com/en/paths/links/modern-texts.html

Bravo Teachers! The Poor Child’s Magic City by E Nesbit in her Wings and The Child 1913

Cocoanut Cottage, Box and Tin Towers from Wings and the Child 1913

Topical thoughts during Lockdown, a useful section on scrap modelling and the making of Magic Cities for all, rich and poor, from E. Nesbit / Edith Nesbit’s Wings and The Child, her version of H.G. Wells’ Little Wars and Floor Games of the same period:

Crossposted from my Man of TIN blog https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/24/the-poor-childs-city-e-nesbit-on-teachers-schools-and-making-magic-cities-in-wings-and-the-child-1913/

E. Nesbit’s Magic City at the Child Welfare Exhibition, Olympia, late 1912/1913

And Girls Did Play Too? E.Nesbit does Floor Games in Wings and the Child 1913

One of Edith Nesbit’s toy palaces in Wings and the Child 1913, highly reminiscent of Wells’ Floor Games of 1911 and Little Wars 1913 – read a free online copy here:


Cross posted from my Man of TIN blog, 23 January 2021

The likely identity of Two More Invisible Men behind H G Wells writing Little Wars?

The likely identity of H.G. Wells’ friends, part of the development of Little Wars – Mr W and a dear friend who died? – crossposted from my Man of TIN blog


Blog cross posted by Mark Man of TIN 23 January 2021

The Invisible Men and Women behind H. G. Wells, Floor Games and Little Wars

Ongoing research into many of the interesting personalities and invisible people behind H. G. Wells’ creation of Floor Games and the wargames classic Little Wars


Peter Dennis’ splendid illustration to his Little Wars volume in his PaperBoys series.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 22 January 2021

A Nudge of Pike

A small push of pike … a nudge or shove of pike maybe?

My converted bundle of medieval knights turned Cornish rabble or Elizabethan ‘Muster’, watching the coast for Armada Spaniards, finally have some more well equipped back up in the form of the Trained Bands. 

Rough and Ready Cornish Boys … the West Country Muster, converted from cheap plastic knights

I have had these old Call to Arms English Civil War 54mm plastic pikemen figures knocking about unpainted at home for about 10 -15 years. They are still available online for example https://www.drumandflag.co.uk/collections/english-civil-war/products/a-call-to-arms-2-english-civil-war-pikemen-1-32-scale-royalist-parliament

High on the Cornish cliff tops, these pikemen run through their pike drill.

I wanted to give them a shiny toy soldier style gloss varnish look, with simple paint style a little like Britain’s Deetail, had they ever made ECW figures like the lovely old Herald plastic figures. I have painted pink cheek dots and traditional toy soldier faces but kept the rest of the detail minimal.

I chose dark and light blue coats and sashes or plumes as blue was a very common colour for the Elizabethan Muster and Trained Bands. My Spanish Fury and Conquistadors are in black and red. Fifty years later, dark blue would also work for dual use of these figures for English Civil War skirmishes.

The plastic pikes supplied by Call to Arms were good and long but far too wonky. Although good spears and pikes for smaller scales can be made from plastic yard brush hairs, I compromised a little on height and went for 100mm steel pikes for my 54mm figures. I can’t remember who in the UK that I ordered these pikes from before Christmas. The MDF tuppenny bases came from WarBases.

So these pikes are not the full 16 to 18 feet in scale, three times the size of my figures, but they are large enough for my purposes.

According to the Cromwell Museum:

“At the beginning of the war many pikemen were equipped with armour, usually a back and breastplate and often thigh plates or ‘tassets’. As it was quite cumbersome, this was rapidly abandoned, and for much of the war most pikemen would have little more than a helmet to protect them.

They were armed with a short sword for hand-to-hand fighting, and a pike, a spear 16 to 18 feet (4.7 – 5.5 metres) in length, made of ash with an iron spear head.


In a future figure post I shall feature the musketeers and command staff that go with these figures, just a few of these figure left on the painting table. Again they have dual use of Armada era late Elizabethan Muster / Trained Band and English Civil War skirmish.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on Pound Store Plastic Warriors, 18th January 2021

G K Chesterton, Mr Turnbull and toy soldiers in The Napoleon of Notting Hill 1904

These days it would be plastic figures but you can still picture the old Toy Soldier collection of Mr Turnbull and his town model of Notting Hill in G K Chesterton’s The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904).

Crossposted from my Man of TIN blog


H G Wells The New Machiavelli, Old Toy Soldiers, Floor Games and Close Wars

An interesting toy soldier related chapter from H G Wells’ 1911 novel The New Machiavelli that links closely to Floor Games (1911/12) and Little Wars (1913)

Crossposted from my Man of TIN blog by Mark Man of TIN


Airfix 54mm 1:32 WW2 figures rereleased for Summer 2021

Childishly delighted to discover that Airfix are rereleasing six of its classic 1:32 54mm plastic WW2 infantry and paratroop sets for Germany, Britain and America – the toys of my childhood available again – preorder Summer 2021


Classic figures – 64p each or 14 for £9.00 – preorder for Summer 2021.

Curious that only the Airfix Paratroops of each nation had radio men figures.

Pound Store and cheap playset copies of Airfix figures

Now we can play again a fun and fascinating toy shop or pound store plastic warrior sort of game called “Spot The Airfix Original Figure!

Interesting to have the original figures available again – many of the poses of German or American Infantry and British Paratroops are commonly found pirated, copied and cloned for Pound Store and seaside plastic toy soldier play sets.


and as they shrink, deform and de-evolve into newish figures, useful as stylised generic cheap figures for paint conversion.


Copying original Airfix (left) then copying, shrinkage and lessening of detail into new figures

Some see poor smaller copies of Airfix, I see glossy shiny toy soldiers …


This Airfix pirated figure de-evolution happens both for 1:72 and small copes of 54mm figures

Good Airfix pirate figures are handy for conversions – Para officer into scout mistress?


Blog posted by Man of TIN blog, 8 January 2020.

New Gaming Year Irresolutions 2021

Another pointlessly optimistic attempt to set out what I look forward to doing in my hobby in 2021?

First for the truth, as found on Tony Kitchen’s Tin Soldiering On website:


What I sort of planned for 2020:


NGY 2020 Irresolution One: Carry on Converting

NGY 2020 Irresolution Two: More solo short small skirmish games

NGY 2020 Irresolution Three: Paint More 15mm Peter Laings

NGY 2020 Irresolution Four: Full Metal Hic Jacet – Romans / Ancients Project

NGY 2020 Irresolution Five: Planet Back Yarden 54mm Sci-fi Garden gaming.

NGY 2020 Irresolution Six – Developing my Scouting Wide Games for the Tabletop games and rules including snowball fights rules for the Little Wars Revisited Woking 54mm Little Wars Saturday 14th March 2020.

NGY 2020 Irresolution Seven – Develop my Bronte inspired ImagiNations in 19th and 20th Century https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/gaming-the-bronte-family-imaginations-of-glasstown-angria-gondal-and-gaaldine


I think there is often much truth in the ‘wargaming humour’ meme picture Tony Kitchen reprinted above, but in Covid Lockdown this year it was very much about keeping going, interested and busy as one Lockdown day blurred into the next.

What really happened in 2020:

January to March 2020: I continued working on Scouting Wide Games and Snowball Fight Games towards the Woking 2020 54mm Games Day in late March – which I didn’t attend due to Covid.

I enjoyed building up towards my Vintage Airfix figure Long Range Desert Group LRDG raid on Wadi Yu Min game with pound store scrap modelling.

The village Spring Flower and Craft Show in March 2020 didn’t happen either so nowhere to show my FEMbruary figures thanks to Lockdown.

April 2020 was a busy month the first of Lockdown and Furlough, summed up by Ann Wycoff of Ann’s Immaterium blog painting challenge to “Paint all the Stuff You Already Own”: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/02/what-ive-done-in-april-for-anns-immaterium-paint-all-the-stuff-you-own-challenge/

April Lockdown saw a Scratchbuilt Martello Tower (Fort Crumble) to match some past joblot 15mm Redcoats and pirates, finally painted and based.

April was also a nostalgia month, looking through my Blue Storage Box, a time capsule of random 1980s figures that I have carried intact from house move to house move, pretty much untouched. I finally finished or based some 15mm Peter Laing units from the box that had been hanging around for over 35 years https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/13/unboxing-the-blue-box-of-1980s-gaming-figures-time-capsule-parts-1-to-3/

54mm Britain’s hollowcast Indians approach the Rogers Rangers Post through Bold Frontiers trees

May 2020 saw a series of small Close Little Wars skirmishes with 54mm plastics or hollowcast figures using the gift of my lovely Bold Frontiers trees and Featherstone’s Close Wars rules. These ranged from Robin Hood duelling to battles between Pound Store Redcoats, repaired and repainted old hollowcast Indians and Replicant Confederates.

Captain Snortt, Miss MacGuffin and her dog Patch in Bold Frontiers forests

It was all helped by the Bold Frontiers trees and a handy family gift of a Tiger Toys Fort renamed Fort Macguffin and the adventures of the daughter of the fort, the feisty Miss MacGuffin and her dog Patch.

The Close Wars forest games extended to painting a batch of figures that I’d had in store for ages, some old US Lucky Toys plastic 2D flat ‘comic book’ Redcoats and Indians. Last of the Mohicans was a theme in May 2020.

June 2020 saw the reprinting or republishing of the tiny Warrior and Pacific Magazine for the first time in a 120 years since 1901!

June also saw my first pound store playset figures interbellum border skirmish game of the FMS Forgotten Minor States involving Esperanto!

In June there was also a lot of fixing broken figures including outsized 60mm plastic figures from job lots, gifts and my childhood.

2020 was otherwise a year of not being able to go browsing in pound stores and charity shop due to Covid and shielding in the household. Apart from the joy of discovering online pound stores, I was lucky to have instead some timely gifts from other friendly gamers.

If I had had firmer plans for 2020, they would have been derailed and happily sidetracked by some Lockdown ‘clearing out’ gifts of surplus 54mm figures of conversion scrap from Michael Brightwell and several boxes of figures from unfinished projects by Alan Gruber – 54mm Armies in Plastic Rogers Rangers and Woodland Indians for my Close Wars Forest Games, along with some Call to Arms Maryland AWI Infantry.

Chintoys Conquistadors and the Mixtec and Zapotec figures

Later in September, Alan Gruber of the Duchy of Tradgardland blog sent me some unusual 54mm Chintoys Mixtecs and Spanish Conquistador figures. This sparked the Spanish Arma-Dad’s Army project for which I converted pound store knights as an Elizabethan Coastwatch Home Guard. I tracked down and added some more Chintoys figures for Christmas 2020 – Spanish infantry and Conquistadors set 2.


I joined Facebook as Mark ManofTIN in 2020 for the wargaming and toy soldiers groups including several Historical ImagiNations groups, the Super Cheap Wargaming scrap modelling group and the wonderful Americana site that is the Forgotten Georgia Facebook group and website. This encouraged a bit more pound store figure conversions and Scrap Modelling including my steam punk tank from a milk carton and some pound store Steampunk infantry / tankers.

My own roller skating suffragette versions of Peter Dennis’ Little Wars PaperBoys figures

Paper Soldiers arrived in March 2020 – thanks to Peter Dennis’ 54mm Little Wars (of the Worlds) PaperBoys (Helion) volume. They were dormant whilst I was on furlough and Lockdown away from printers and scanners. However they spawned in July 2020 an unusual Suffgraffiti game of poster pasting paper suffragettes on roller skates version of my Splaffiti game (which used plastic skateboarders).

This itself was created by trying a pound store soldier chess board version Splattack of the video game Splattoon. All three games remain ‘Work in Progress’ through into 2021. Paper Soldiers reappeared – on stage – in December 2020 with the colourful arrival of a Victorian style toy theatre advent calendar.

August 2020 saw some strategic buying for Christmas / 2021, supporting smaller manufacturers who were missing the Trade Shows postponed due to Covid. I acquired small skirmish batches of Sergeants’ Mess 20mm Scouts, EWM Early War Miniatures 20mm 1940 Danish and Dutch Infantry and some Bad Squiddo 28mm RAF women Pigeoneers.

I also made Annie Norman of Bad Squiddo cry – in a good way – with a picture posted of my 2019 village Flower Show entry of her Bad Squiddo Land Girls.

I returned to part work, part furlough in September and as my job fully returned in November, I found I had less and less craft and hobby time. I find I have less energy for hobby stuff in winter anyway as it darkens. I make this dark time useful with reading around the subject instead, in this case mostly about the Armada land invasion plans and the Tudor/ Elizabethan army at home.

Working from home through Teams for part of this uncertain year made me value not only the downtime of e-chat with other bloggers and Facebook users but also the crafting focus of the hobby doing something physical and creative with my hands.

December 2020 had an ‘Eagle of The Ninth’ Roman feel, as I was reading some Rosemary Sutcliff historical fiction and her autobiography Blue Remembered Hills for her centenary on 14 December. This turned out to have more wartime and toy soldier content than I imagined.

Plans for New Gaming Year NGY 2021?

I think the NGY Irresolutions 2020 still stand for this year – a year interrupted – but who knows what might happen in 2021?

#FEMBruary figures – BMC Plastic Army Women figures and possibly Bad Squiddo WW2 RAF Pigeoneers if the village Spring Flower and Craft Show happens in March.

Woking 2021 54mm Little Wars Revisited Games Day? March? October? Covid dependent of course.

Mid year – Covid willing – I have a local history research project talk to do on WW2 in my local area, following up similar ones on WW1 as village fundraisers during the WW1 centenary. Time for some more newspaper archive research online. This research doubles up as good for the Home Guard games and I also found out more about the WW1 ‘Gorgeous Wrecks’ or Volunteer Training Corps, good for future VTC Wide Games and WW1 era ‘what if’ games.

Doubling up 54mm skirmish gaming figures 2021?

Arma-Dads Army! 1590s Home Guard Elizabethan Muster of conversions and ECW figures against the Spanish Fury, Chintoys Conquistadors and pound store Pirates …

Conquistadors who in turn fight the ManoTINcas and Mixtape tribes in the forests and mountain cities of central and South Generica (a thinly disguised South America) …

Which looked at in a different way, leaves me with half an ECW skirmish to build upon and some fresh generic Forest AmerIndian natives for ImagiNations and Colonial gaming.

Christmas gift support for the Arma-Dad’s Army project – books and Chintoys 54mm figures

Further ‘Doubling Up’ comes from using similar scenarios for the 54mm Arma- Dad’s Army games and 54mm Look Duck and Varnish WW2 Home Guard vs German coastal invasion / paratroops occasional games. Seelowe / Operation Sea Lion 1940/41 and Operación León Marino 1580s/ 90s

I look forward to further poking around researching the early ‘History of Wargaming’ (Donald Featherstone, RLS, H.G. Wells etc)

Several sources of 40-54mm metal figure moulds in metal and silicon came up on on EBay in 2020, these are now stored away as presents for the next 2021 Birthday or Easter present fest.

Who knows what 2021 will bring?

Thank you to all those bloggers and readers who have encouraged me through this uncertain and disrupted year with their enthusiasm, humour and kind comments. Happy New Gaming Year 2021.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 30 December 2020