Ellen Edith Hannah Redknap (April 1906 – March 1991) wrote under the name of Erroll Collins. A British author active during the 1940s, specialising in adventure and science fiction for boys.
Some of her books are now available to download in PDF format.
Ellen Edith Hannah Redknap was born in Shadwell on April 15, 1906, the daughter of Frederick Charles Redknap, a master plumber, and his wife Ellen Maud Redknap ( married in 1904). Ellen Redknap died young on September 1, 1934, at Hounslow Hospital in Middlesex. At the time, the family lived at 56 Worton Way, Isleworth. She was the eldest of four children, with Stella, Freda and Ernest following. ‘Goody’, as she was nicknamed by her younger sisters because of her constant good example setting, would read stories to Ernie, who born in 1918 was the youngest of the family, and soon after began publishing her own stories for boys in 1935. Ernie, perhaps inspired by the air stories she read to him, was later involved in the first Commando raids in the Lofoten Islands (Operation Claymore) and then later as a Pilot flying glider drops during the invasion of France (including Operation Market Garden); after the war he remained living with his sister in Isleworth until his death in the late 1970s.
Well read, and with a good memory for literature, Ellen loved reading—her house was filled with thousands of books—and encouraged others to enjoy it. She would even buy her neighbours children comics.
Her hobby was collecting and breeding terrapins and had a tortoise which was in its thirties when he died. Ellen would often carry a terrapin around with her in her apron, talking to it.
One of her wartime novels caused some excitement when it was held back by the censors as it proved to be a little to close to things the Allies were working on; more excitement came in the shape of the birth of a nephew, Graeme Grant Hawkins—the majority of her family would remain childless, and to celebrate his birth Ellen adopted his name as a pseudonym for her next book, Wings Over the Arctic by Graeme Grant, published in 1947. She later dedicated her novel Submarine City to him.
Her 1944 Mariners of Space is for its time a very advanced piece of science fiction. It envisages a future world where there were populations on Mars and Venus as well as Earth flying around the solar system, and, inevitably, getting into wars. As it was serialised in the then popular Boy’s Own Paper it was read widely and must have influenced many boys of that generation to take an interest in the possibility of space travel. To some extent it anticipates the later work of Robert A. Heinlein, though it is clearly just aimed at boys. It was published by Lutterworth Press in hardback in 1949.
Mariners of Space also anticipates a number of political realignments, some of which have actually come true. She predicts a ‘United States of Europe’ not dissimilar to the EU, although the British Empire and the USA have merged to become the ‘British-American Empire’! Nonetheless, she correctly anticipated that the world’s major trouble-spots at the millennium would be in the Middle East (she posits a dispute between Europe and Asia over the territorial rights to the Caspian Sea). In the Interplanetary War which forms the climax to the story, Earth is victorious largely due to the population uniting against their common enemies from Mars and Venus.
It appears that she was possibly an acquaintance of Barnes Wallis – the use of swing-wing Arrow-Planes in ‘Mariners of Space’ may have had their origin in this association.
Ellen E. H. Redknap was also a prolific writer of poetry and self-published a number of books of verse. She remained a staunch supporter of her local poetry group, and her last work was a book of verse enticingly entitled Un-Cuddly Creatures, published in 1989, just two years before she died in March 1991.
Novels as E. E. H. Redknap
- The Isle of the Black Pearl. London, George Newnes, (Flag Library for Boys 11), 1935.
Novels as Erroll Collins
- Galleons of the Air (serial, Boy’s Own Paper, 1939). Lutterworth Press, Jul 1940.
- The Sea Falcon (serial, Boy’s Own Paper, Oct 1940-Mar 1941). Lutterworth Press, Dec 1941.
- The Secret of Rosmerstrand. Lutterworth Press, May 1942.
- Outlaw Squadron. Lutterworth Press, Oct 1943.
- Mariners of Space. Lutterworth Press, Jul 1944.
- The Hawk of Aurania. London, Collins, 1944.
- Rebel Wings. Lutterworth Press, Apr 1945.
- Submarine City. Lutterworth Press, Nov 1946.
- The Stars of Korania. Lutterworth Press, Nov 1948.
- The Black Dwarf of Mongolia. Collins (Seagull Library), May 1949.
- Volcanic Treasure. London, Gerald Swan, Feb 1955.
- Conquerors of Space. Richmond, Surrey, Stanley Baker (FST #5), Jun 1955.
- Wings of Resistance. Mitcham, Surrey, G.M. Smith (Combat Library #1), Mar 1959.
Verse as Ellen E. H. Collins
- The Star Rover. A poem. Ilfracombe, Arthur H. Stockwell, 1953.
- Poems of Earth, Sea and Sky. Hounslow, privately published, 1959.
- More Poems of Earth, Sea and Sky. Hounslow, privately published, 1960.
- Astrology, and other poems. Dulwich Village, Outposts Publications, 1961.
- Impressions. Cheltenham, Envoi, 1961.
- Poems for All Seasons. Southend-on-Sea, Citizen Publishing Co., 1961.
- Strange Altars. [7 The Towers], Stevenage, Herts., Ore Publications, 1973.
- Un-Cuddly Creatures. Bedford, Writers’ Own Publications, 1989.
Novels as Graeme Grant
- Wings Over the Arctic. London, Evans Bros., 1947.
- Short Stories & Serials
Stories as E. E. H. Redknap
- Beaver Gold (Schoolboy Adventures 1, Feb 1944; reprinted, Cute Fun, May 1950)
Stories as Erroll Collins
- The Luck of the Lindsays (Boy’s Own Paper, Jan 1936)
- The Tiki of Tautauro (Boy’s Own Paper, May 1936; reprinted, The Schoolboy’s Annual, Lutterworth, n.d.)
- The Sunstone (Jolly Jack’s Annual 1937, 1936)
- The Grey Druid (Boy’s Own Paper, Jan 1937)
- The Haunted Reef (Boy’s Own Paper, Mar 1937)
- Deaths Door ( Boys Own Paper, Feb 1937 )
- The Dare-Devil Pilot (Boy’s Own Paper, Jul 1938)
- Galleons of the Air (Boy’s Own Paper, 1939)
- The Sea Falcon (Boy’s Own Paper, Oct 1940-Mar 1941)
- The Lost Lake (Schoolboy Adventures 1, Feb 1944)
- The Silver Joss (Schoolboy Adventures 1, Feb 1944)
- Red for Danger (Cute Fun, Aug 1946)
- M13 (The Schoolboy’s Annual, Lutterworth, n.d.)
- Bandits and Bisnagas (Daily Mail Boy’s Annual, n.d.)
- Wikipedia entry for Erroll Collins
- On the Trail of Erroll Collins by Steve Holland
- Return to Gompa Tong by Jim Mackenzie
- The Oldie – Article in the Summer 2011 edition
The Oldie ran an article in the Summer 2011 edition on Erroll Collins, it was written by Mr Rodney M Bennett. It was a lovely piece, one she would have been so proud and surprised about. It was very nice to hear that her books were still being thought about and hopefully enjoyed.