But, said feminists, they
stereotyped Jane as a golden-haired angel who helped Mummy
with the household chores. Appearances, however, were
deceptive, according to the woman who inspired the famous
illustrations by Harry
they were first published in 1964 the Key
Words Reading Scheme books have annoyed
the politically correct.
This Ladybird series, otherwise known as the 'Peter
and Jane' books, were based on educationalist
theory of 'key words'.
The Peter and Jane books have sold over 100 million
copies worldwide and taught generations to read.
The original Jane
Now revealed as the model for Jane, 44 year old Jill
Ashurst admits 'I wasn't much like Jane really
and I missed having an older brother like she had in Peter.
I was a great tomboy back then and didn't wear dresses
very often. And I remember getting really fed up with
having my hair plaited for the pictures.' She became the
original model for the books which captured the innocent
charm of British domestic life 40 years ago when she was
Wingfield, who lived in the same street in
Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, was looking for two children
to play the pair and thought that Jill and her friend
would be perfect.
'In those days, it wasn't
an issue. Girls just helped mum in the kitchen while boys
helped Dad in the garden. But I don't think it affected
was the model for many of the Ladybird Peter
and Jane books
During their long summer holidays Harry would photograph
the children doing everyday tasks around the house,
such as raking the leaves or washing the dishes.
He then copied the pictures to go with the simple
storylines he had been asked to illustrate.
As a special needs teacher near her home in Shrewsbury,
Shropshire, Mrs Ashurst herself now teaches children
Jill clearly remembers her modelling assignment.
And whatever political theorists may have thought
she obviously emerged unscathed.
'The strangest thing was seeing a sociology exam
paper at school a few years back asking if Peter
and Jane were examples of social stereotyping,'
says Mrs Ashurst.
Murray died four years ago but Mr
Wingfield, 88, who still lives at his home
in Sutton Coldfield, recalls the youthful Mrs Ashurst
very well. 'I often look at the Pictures,' he said. 'It's
wonderful to have a lastimg image of Jill as a beautiful
Article Taken from The Mail
on Sunday, 1998
the transcript interview with Harry Wingfield
By 1973 Ladybird were selling 20 million of their books each year with the Key Words Reading Scheme books amounting for 4.5 million of the sales.