Anthony Buckeridge was born in 1912, the first and only child of Ernest George Buckeridge and his wife Gertrude Alice. Ernest was a bank clerk, working at the head office of The National Bank in London, and also a poet; in the same year that Anthony was born, he published a volume of poetry, Spindrift.
In September 1916 Ernest was called up for military service. After training in England he was posted to France the following April as a Private in the Honourable Artillery Company. Exactly one month later, on 3 May, he was killed in action, just half an hour after arriving at the front line. Four-year-old Anthony was not at first informed of his father’s death, and much later recalled how his cries for his absent father had made his mother cry.
Gertrude Buckeridge took a job as a bank clerk, and in 1920, Anthony – by now 7 years old – became a beneficiary of the Bank Clerks’ Orphanage, a charitable organisation that supported the education of the children of deceased bank clerks. Anthony Buckeridge’s scholarship paid for him to become a boarding pupil at Seaford College in Sussex.
Anthony left school in 1930, and at the end of August went to work for The National Bank in London. It was common for the sons of bank clerks who had died in the war to be given jobs in their father’s bank; it was a way for the banks to continue their commitment to the dependants of lost staff. Anthony started in King’s Cross branch, and after four months moved to the advances office in the secretary’s department – the very department where his father had worked.
Banking did not suit Anthony. After two years he left The National Bank. He attended University College London, but his weak grasp of Latin kept him from taking a degree. He later became a teacher and then, from the 1950s onwards, the author of the much-loved ‘Jennings’ books, which related the adventures of the schoolboy Jennings and his boarding school classmates.