You and your surfboard by Vernon Bartlett. Published 1953

This book/pamphlet is an absolute stunner. It is written By Vernon Bartlett (1894 – 1983), who was a politician, journalist, broadcaster and correspondent (being awarded the CBE in 1956). The artwork in the book was done by Maurice Bartlett, who I think was the son of Vernon. Maurice, it seems, studied with Quentin Blake and worked with him at The Spectator in the late 1950s. He also did many a cover for Punch magazine in the same period.


This little book is an absolute winner. It’s 24 pages in total and was printed in Porthcothan Bay, Padstow, Cornwall (possibly the best beach in the world?). The imagery and writing in the book is top drawer. Vernon talks about the qualities of surf-riding and the lack of need for expense, telling the reader any board will do – including your landlady’s tea-tray.


It gives us the ‘dos and don’ts’ and tells us not to surf like a ship’s figure head (as below) whilst rocking a handle bar moustache – ‘wax, wax’.


Although produced in 1953, my guess is that Vernon was forward thinking in telling us not to dump rubbish on the beach, claiming those that do are the disgrace of Britain (here here). He mentions egg shell and orange peel left on the beach. I wish they were the only issue we had now!

Personally I think the book is not just a wonderful piece of history, but still a very relevant guide on how to surf-ride. I love this book and I have a friend who dearly wants one, so if you have a spare do let me know.

An early British surf book and an amazing piece of history. Love it!

2 thoughts on “You and your surfboard by Vernon Bartlett. Published 1953”

  1. Richard Bartelot

    What a find, a real surprise, I would love to have this – any chance of selling, or at least a photocopy? Vernon Bartlett was the brother of my grandfather. He would never know that his great grandnephew Nick Bartelot (born the year after he died) would become a professional surfer instructing at the Extreme Academy, Watergate Bay!!

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