Video: Percy Westerman at Emsworth Museum

Currently hosting one of the greatest literary figures of the 20th century, Emsworth museum will ensure future generations know the name Percy F Westerman.

A former journalist, Westerman’s career as an author started as a six pence bet with his wife – she challenged him to write a children’s book. His novels went on to enthrall youngsters for generations, with The Flying Submarine still being published in the 1940s.

The Percy Westerman exhibition at Emsworth Museum PICTURES BY JOHN TWEDDELL

The Percy Westerman exhibition at Emsworth Museum PICTURES BY JOHN TWEDDELL

The Portsmouth-born writer worked across genres, writing everything from historical tales and stories of the wars, to science-fiction and adventure stories for boys.

Tony Stimson is chairman of the Emsworth Maritime and Historical Trust, which runs the museum.

“Westerman had a long career, writing hundreds of novels for youngsters. We provide space for anyone who wants to run an exhibition here. This one is particularly relevant to Emsworth,” said Tony.

The exhibition celebrates not only the life and career of Westerman, but the literary heritage Emsworth has to offer.

Nigel Gossop is curator of the collection, The Westerman Yarns, comprising books, documents and photographs of the celebrated author. Nigel said: “I’m keen for people to understand Westerman’s importance as a children’s writer.

“Under King Henry’s Banners features Warblington Castle, and there is a lot of the local area throughout his books.”

The museum also boasts a first edition of Westerman’s debut novel, A Lad of Grit, published in 1908. The book will be the centrepiece of the exhibition which also features colourful illustrations and covers.

Headmaster at Portsmouth Grammar School, James Priory, was delighted to be opening the exhibition, which is particularly poignant as Westerman was a pupil at the school from 1890-1894. “This is a great honour – our school is sponsoring the exhibition.

“The school had a great influence on him – he spent a lot of time in our museum, where former pupils would showcase curiosities from their travels around the world.

“I am thrilled to have Percy’s works here in Emsworth – he is undoubtedly one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.”

This is one of several exciting exhibitions at the museum this year. Next will be the Emsworth arts trail coming through in May before D-Day exhibitions towards the end of May.