Posted: 13.10.21 at 17:13 by Ellyn Wright
Cowbridge’s Elephant & Bun Deli is the source of inspiration for an author’s upcoming children’s book.
Welsh writer Megan Mattravers is launching ‘The Elephant and the Buns’ this weekend, at the High Street delicatessen.
The story is inspired by the true history of a travelling circus that visited Cowbridge in the late 19th century.
Have you ever wondered how Elephant & Bun Deli got its name?
It all starts with a Mr Frank Bostock and Mr George Wombwell, of Bostock and Wombwell’s Menagerie, which would frequently tour towns in the UK in the late 19th and early 20th Century.
The story goes that baker's wife Mary Williams fed a bun to the circus elephant. Years later, when the circus returned to town, the same elephant tried to enter the shop to help itself to a bun, reinforcing the age-old adage that elephants never forget.
“In the book we have Mrs Sweet baking bread for everyone and then the elephant comes to town,” explained Megan.
“But there’s a message about supporting the local high street there.”
Now working as a freelance writer, and teaching writing workshops, Meg also puts her background in the theatre to good use.
After training as a drama practitioner, Megan works with young people in alternative provision and on mental health wards.
“It’s applied theatre so you’re using drama as a tool, especially in my work, with particularly difficult contexts with vulnerable young people,” said Meg.
“I work in a hospital in Wales, on the only mental health ward specifically for young people. It’s challenging but very worthwhile.”
She never expected to write children’s literature – her first book ‘Vintage Owl’ “came out of nowhere”. But the story was also inspired by a Cowbridge shop.
“I was shopping with a friend in Happy Days, and all of a sudden we were told to stand still,” explained Meg.
“The owner of the shop explained that an owl had come in that morning.
“They’ve got a wood burner and the owl had come down the flue, so when they opened the doors this massive owl flew out.
“We went later in the day, and the owl was still there. We had to stand still as the owl was about to fly from one side of the shop to the other.
“Watching the owl was hilarious because it was going in all the top hats and other vintage pieces.
“I came home that night and went for a walk and decided to write the story. It didn’t really change from that draft to publication after that,” she said.
Meg explained that ‘Vintage Owl’ then stayed on her computer for months, until she met Owain Lewis.
“His background is in film, but he’d been wanting to get into illustration. So, I showed him my children’s book and we got to work.”
After such success, the pair collaborated again on ‘The Elephant and the Buns’, incorporating historical elements within the illustrations.
With Vintage Owl, Meg was not able to hold events until a year after it was published due to Covid restrictions.
But this time around, she is excited to start her book tour this weekend, soon after ‘The Elephant and the Buns’ is launched.
The first book reading will take place the following weekend at The Goodsheds.
So, what does the future hold for Meg?
“I think I’ll do another children’s book. There are definitely more books; I think all our writing is connected to things we’ve experienced or observed so I can definitely see myself going down that route again,” she said.
“My dad keeps pushing me to write about my dog, but he’s called Gatsby and someone’s already done a book with that name!”
Keep up to date with Meg Mattravers’ work here.
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