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New Books

This section lists the new books, autobiography and fiction, published by Little Knoll Press

Cor Blimey! Where ‘ave you come from?‘ an autobiography by Winifred Tovey, packed with stories and historic photos of India after Independence.

Cor Blimey cover front 10cmW copy

In 1951 Winifred Tovey, her medical missionary husband, Frank, and two small daughters first travel to India, to start life as a medical missionary’s family in the southern city of Mysore.

When they first arrived, the ‘old India missionaries’ instructed them to, ‘listen, learn and on no account express an opinion’. But they found too much need around them, and in no time at all they were extending Frank’s work as a surgeon at the Holdsworth Memorial Hospital to projects in the outlying areas.

The advent of ‘Dapsone’ (in 1950) as an effective treatment for leprosy made it possible for their team to perform reconstructive surgery, rehabilitate leprosy sufferers and practically eradicate leprosy from local districts.

With help at home from servants, Winnie was able to take on other projects as well, bringing bore wells and cottage industries to villages that had previously suffered regular famine in years of drought, and assisting in the resettlement of Tibetan refugees in nearby Bylakuppe.

Winnie and Frank first travelled to India with a toddler and small baby, and then their family grew to four children and a menagerie of pets. Much of the story centres on the children’s experiences of India, from monkeys in the bedroom to elephants in the jungle, and from nursery school in the Maharaja’s Palace to boarding schools in Coonoor and Ooty.

The book title, ‘Cor Blimey! Where ‘ave You Come From?’ comes from the remark made by a British taxi driver when he picked the family up from Tilbury Docks.  The cabby could not believe the children’s questions about London. They were truly foreigners in their own land.

Winnie wrote this autobiography in her nineties, with Frank contributing some sections. They can look back on huge changes that have taken place in their lifetimes, with medical advances and other events helping to shape newly Independent India into the India of today.  The book provides invaluable insights for those wishing to travel to India today.

‘Strangers in Chaotung’ – the autobiographical story of of two medical missionaries caught up in the events of communist China in 1948-49.  The book is rich in historic photos, original letters and descriptions.

travel to India

Winifred Hill the author:

Winifred Tovey is the author of two books, both written and published after her 89th birthday.  The first book, ‘Strangers in Chaotung’, is about her childhood and young adult life in Bedford, and two momentous years in China from 1947 to 1949.  The second book, ‘Cor Blimey! Where ‘ave you come from?’, is about sixteen years in India between 1951 and 1967.

Winifred was born in 1919, the daughter of Frederick Hill, a newspaper illustrator (the illustrations were engravings in those days) and Nellie Louise, who started her working life as a live-in maid, aged 13.

Winnie’s father served in WWI with the Horse Artillery, spending three years in the trenches before returning unwell to England.  Shortly afterwards he died and this shaped Winifred’s future.  She had to learn to be self-reliant and resilient; two important qualities that she took with her when she travelled to China in 1947, just five days after getting married to Frank Tovey.

Frank, a surgeon, was appointed by the Methodist Missionary Society to work in a hospital outside the gates of Chaotung, a town of ancient China, in the remote Province of Yunnan.  Within eighteen months, Mao’s Chinese Revolution had taken over and they had to flee China.

After a brief recovery period in England, they were posted to India, where Frank was to set up a men’s department in the Holdsworth Memorial Hospital, Mysore, a hospital originally built for women and children.  It was just after India had gained Independence, and the 1950s and 1960s were times of great change in the newly-democratic and second most populous country in the world.

Winnie did a huge amount of voluntary work, bringing aid and treatment to drought-stricken villages, leprosy patients and Tibetan refugees. 

On top of this Winnie and Frank brought up four children in India.  Winnie is now a grandmother of 7 and great-grandmother of 4.  She lives in Hampshire with Frank and they still look after themselves.


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