Imagine a world without Spotify, Netflix, iPods and streaming; without multi- channel platforms or downloading by the tap of a finger. In 1982 the UK were excited to be getting a fourth TV channel! Then imagine, in this pre-technological era, the meeting at Marshall Cavendish, when someone suggested an innovation in publishing: for Story Teller was surely that.
The idea now seems quite simple, as all good ideas always are. The team at Marshall Cavendish would create a database of the world’s best loved children’s literature, bring together some of the best illustrators around, whilst also giving a platform for new aspiring writers and illustrators such as myself. They couldn’t get all of the stories on their wish list, just as Spotify couldn’t get The Beatles at first, but the collective output was quite extraordinary.
Similarly, they also recognised that stories are a spoken artform. From bedtime readings with Mum or Dad, to Jackanory, it was the telling of the story that brought it to life, and Marshall Cavendish didn’t hold back when it came to choosing their narrators. The addition of music and sound effects enhanced the mini productions, to the point that if you closed your eyes, you felt as if you were actually there. Virtual reality for the 80’s.
Every fortnight, a generation of children across the globe eagerly anticipated the latest edition of Story Teller through their letterboxes, and they were never disappointed. The serials, poems, humour and pathos, sadness, terror and downright fun, kept drawing an eager audience as if by magic.
No wonder this collection is so fondly remembered, and has active Facebook groups across many languages.
We may never see Story Teller’s like in print again, but we should be grateful that it was published, and remember with fondness how it felt reading and hearing each episode for the first time.