Tag: Lions International

First ‘reader review’ received for Escaping Hitler

This morning I was delighted to receive my first ‘reader review’ on Facebook from a lovely lady who bought a book direct from me earlier this week. The review was actually from her husband and it reads:

“My husband managed to nab our copy before me. He keeps relaying little snippets so I know he is enjoying the book.
When I asked him about the style of writing he said he was finding it an easy read and a real page turner.”

As a debut biographer I could not have been more delighted. That is exactly what I set out to achieve when I knew I had to share Joe’s story.  Thank you Mary.

To receive your copy of Escaping Hitler, the biography of Norwich man Joe Stirling, kinder transport boy, former Sheriff of Norwich, senior member of Lions International and pioneering Travel Agent, refer to the previous blog posting with your options.  Looking forward to signing and mailing it out to you (U.K. only)

It is also available from Jarrold’s Book Department in Norwich,  Pen and Sword Books and Amazon.co.uk.


Joe Stirling reading his copy of Escaping Hitler!

HOW TO BUY YOUR COPY OF ESCAPING HITLER, a Biography signed by both author and subject…..


No harm in a  reminder to my UK readers of how to order your signed copy of Escaping Hitler direct from me.  

1. The Recommended Retail Price on the cover is £25 but I am selling signed copies at £19.50 plus £4 postage and packing (within the UK) making a total of £23.50

2. EITHER mail  a cheque payable to Mrs P Scrivens at 7 St Lucia Court, 38 Yarmouth Road, Norwich NR7 0EQ along with your home address and telephone number and I will mail a book out to you along with a receipt.

3. OR call me on 01603 300212 and quote me your credit or debit card details (just like you do when ordering tickets for the cinema!) I have a Paypal machine so I can take cards over the phone.  I will then mail your book.

4. OR email me at phyllida.scrivens@icloud.com and I will email you my bank account details by return so that you can pay electronically. Once it is cleared I will mail your book.

All books will be mailed in a cardboard mailer which can fit two books.

Do share this information with your friends.  My debut book is now just over one year old and has recently been published in the U.S. by Skyhorse Books.  The interest in Joe’s remarkable story continues to grow – be a part of it.  jacket jpeg

Thanks in anticipation.  Joe and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Phyllida Scrivens, Norwich

200 copies of Escaping Hitler arrive in Thorpe St Andrew

Today counts as one of the most exciting of my life, alongside two marriages, two births and two graduations… 200 copies of my debut book Escaping Hitler arrived from Pen and Sword Books at my Norwich home.  I love it!  The cover is glossy, the scent of ‘new print’, evocative photographs and foreword by a national figure.  It is everything I dreamed it would be, my debut book, a proper hardback with my name on the spine… I could not be happier.  Within two hours of the delivery van arriving here, Victor and I drove over to Joe Stirling, the subject of the biography, where he was patiently awaiting our arrival.  Joe is also thrilled with how the book looks and I signed a copy for him.  We left him embarking on a marathon read – I doubt he will not go to bed tonight!  Here are some photos so that you can share this special day with me.  Tomorrow we will set up an online store from this site – hopefully from the weekend Escaping Hitler will be open for business!


Could not be more excited!  This morning I received a large parcel from Pen and Sword books containing my first ever type set proof of my manuscript for Escaping Hitler complete with the foreword by Shirley Williams.  Now I have to work on producing an index and check the photo captions.  Nearly there….  Beautiful drawing of boy running is courtesy of my talented sister Alison White.  Looking forward to receiving a confirmed publication date in January 2016 hopefully in time for Holocaust Memorial Day. In the meantime if you can find your way to my Facebook page for the book at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Escaping-Hitler-A-Jewish-Boys-Quest-for-Freedom-and-his-Future/1456106047996737

and like the page, this will keep you updated on publication, signings, talks and how to get hold of your signed copy.   

Loving the running boy sketch
Loving the running boy sketch

Index page from proof

Youtube Footage showing Joe Stirling speaking to Norwich Sunday Assembly July 2015

This piece of footage from Norwich Sunday Assembly shows Joe Stirling, the hero of my biography Escaping Hitler, talking recently to a packed hall about his early life.  At 90 years old he is still able to hold an audience in the palm of his hand. The book, to be published in January 2016 by Pen and Sword Books, will give all this information and so much more, including anecdotal stories from those who were and still are close to him.  The book covers nine decades of this man’s wonderful life from his childhood in Nazi Germany to his arrival in England on the Kindertransport, his education and life with two foster families, joining the British Army, meeting his wife, living in Attleborough, joining the Labour Party, working with Shirley Williams on her first by-election, taking high office in Lions International, setting up his own pioneering travel company Stirling Holidays, bringing up four children, travelling the world, becoming Sheriff of Norwich and finally discovering the fate of his parents.   Keep an eye on this blog for more information about publication dates, signings and how to buy your own signed copy….


This week I am travelling all around North America with Joe Stirling.  As I write up the fascinating and detailed conversations with him as he shared memories of the twenty-one Lions Conventions he visited during the 1970s and 80s, not only as a colleague but also as travel arranger and guide, I feel I am in the great cities – San Francisco, Miami, Las Vegas, Mexico City.  But I only have one photo to share, which will feature in the book, of Joe heading up the British contingent in the Grand Opening Parade in Montreal in the summer of 1979.  As for my progress with Escaping Hitler: photos now back from the photoshop, all scanned onto a stick in high resolution, a good friend is preparing a family tree and a map is being designed at the publishers.  I am up to over 76,000 words with six weeks to go.  THIS WILL HAPPEN.  It just needs some application and determination – no problem then!!

Joe leads the British delegation!
Joe leads the British delegation!


Every day I am finding myself learning about something completely different to that of the previous day.  This week is it all about Joe Stirling’s organised trips to America for the Lions International Conventions in America during the 1970s.  In 1973 following the Miami Convention he took a group to Walt Disney World in Orlando, established for only two years.  The Magic Kingdom, Fantasyland, Frontierland, Liberty Square to name just a few of the attractions.  For those not fortunate enough to have visited Disneyland in California following the Las Vegas Convention in 1971, Joe’s first, would have found it mind-blowing, very different to back home in Norwich.  The words keep coming, just 15,000 and five decades to go, six weeks to complete….. Escaping Hitler is coming together.

Walt Disney World brochure 1973


Spent a very happy afternoon yesterday sorting through the heaps of original photos leant to me by sources close to Joe Stirling.  Here are some ‘taster’ samples.  Will be taking them to printer tomorrow for scanning, ready for publisher to work their magic.  Still writing – 67,000 at last count.  Getting there…..

Joe's office in 1975
Joe’s office in 1975
Daughter of Free family who took Joe in as their foster child in Birmingham
Daughter of Free family who took Joe in as their foster child in Birmingham
Joe looking jolly pleased to have just been made District Governor in Lions International....
Joe looking jolly pleased to have just been made District Governor in Lions International….

Lions International and Joe

Happy New Year to all my followers.  2015 and it’s back to work on the book with just 3 months to submission deadline!  This coming week I will be carrying out more research both at the Eastern Daily Press archives and also visiting the current President of Norwich Lions Club.  He has known Joe for over forty years so I am looking forward to some as yet unheard anecdotal stories about Joe being a District Governor with the Lions and his fifty years of service.  This photo shows Joe two years ago showing me his Lions vest with the many pin badges he has collected from Lions Clubs all over the world.  He is very proud of it!Joe in Lions Vest 2012