Nicholas Stuart Gray (23 October 1922, Scotland - 17 March 1981) was a British actor and playwright, perhaps best known for his work in children's theatre in England. He was also an author of children's fantasy; he wrote a number of novels, a dozen plays, and many short stories. Neil Gaiman has written that Gray "is one of those authors I loved as a boy who holds up even better on rereading as an adult". Many other modern fantasy authors, such as Hilari Bell, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Kate Forsyth, Cassandra Golds, Katherine Langrish, Sophie Masson, and Garth Nix, cite Gray's work as something they enjoyed as children.
Perhaps his best-known books are The Seventh Swan and Grimbold's Other World. Gray often produced adaptations or continuations of traditional fairy tales and fantasy works, as in his Further Adventures of Puss in Boots. His The Stone Cage is a re-telling of Rapunzel from a cat's point of view. Over The Hills to Fabylon is about a city whose king has the ability to make it fly off across the mountains if he feels it is in danger.
Gray maintained a long-term collaborative relationship with set designer and illustrator Joan Jefferson Farjeon (sister of Eleanor Farjeon and Harry Farjeon); she supplied the costume and scenic designs for many of the theatrical productions of his plays, as well as the illustrations of his books.
Nicholas Stuart Gray obviously adored cats, and had observed them well enough to be able to really write them. They're primary characters in most of his books, and in The Stone Cage, nearly the entire story is narrated by the witch's cat.
I think it's the most adult of Gray's books, because Tomlyn is such a cynic; every seemingly innocuous or even happy event is taken with a whole handful of salt. And with good cause; Tomlyn's lived his whole life in company with a wicked witch - as he puts it, "I was only a kitten when madam trapped me, and I lived in her cottage for more than a hundred and sixty years. Sometimes it seemed longer" - who's about to trick a foolish but well-meaning man into giving her his newborn baby. And that's going to change everything for the witch's familiars (Tomlyn and Marshall, her raven).
There are genuinely magical and dangerous moments in this book, as well as humor, adventure, charm. Child-care doesn't come naturally to a wicked witch; witness the cradle that croaks "Never grow up... never grow up..." when you rock it.
Thank goodness Rapunzel has a cat and a raven looking out for her.
My all-time favorite book, my first book love, read many times over many years.
Each page is a morsel of literary divinity to be savored slowly, deliberately and with exquisite relish. The story told through the eyes of the witch's cat intrigues and compels.
I never, ever praise any literature whatsoever as highly as I do this one. My life's dream would be to translate this extraordinary masterpiece to film. Nothing surpasses.
Read it and be transported to a fantastical place where your indulgence in fairy tale lore and intelligent twists can burst from the pages as you read. This story will charm a place into your heart forever.
A wonderful classic children's fantasy which retells the Rapunzel fairy tale from the point of view of the witch's cat. The book which first made me think about writing my own Rapunzel retelling, when I was only 12.
This book is a retelling of the story Rapunzel though the eyes of the witch's cat.
I first read the story as a child and was instantly captivated. Nearly 15 years later, it's still my favourite book from my childhood and holds such dear memories for me. It's a pity it's out of print.
Have been meaning to rate this book for ages but kept forgetting.
The Stone Cage is easily in my top 5 favourite books. I say that about lots of books but this one really is.
It is an absolute masterpiece of storytelling, written by a fabulous author at the peak of his powers. The main narrator, Tomlyn, is wonderfully articulate and cynical and perfectly embodies the aloofness, dignity and conceit we assume cats to have when we anthropomorphise.
His relationship with Marshall the raven as they survive, and later become co-conspirators under the dread regime of Mother Gothel, is at times funny, at times gripping, and ultimately heart-achingly sad – yet manages also to be uplifting.
This is powerful writing. To conflict the reader with such powerful pathos and joy at the end of the novel is the kind of result most writers can only dream of. I’m a hard-bitten crime writer in my fifties and even I tear up a little just thinking about the last chapter of The Stone Cage.
This short play reinterprets the story of Rapunzel from the point of view of the witch's cat.
Mother Gothel wants a baby to bring up as her assistant witch. Unbeknownst to her, and never guessed at because she is dumb as a post, Tomkyn the cat has learned magic and enchanted Rapunzel so that she becomes stupid in the presence of magic. I wish Grey had handled this spell with a little more subtlety, since it makes Rapunzel a rather boring character. This was probably deliberate, to keep the focus on the two animals who are really the main characters. I found the raven who wants to be a scholar the most sympathetic.
A beautiful, magical tale of Rapunzel, told through the eyes of Tomlyn the cat. One of the best books I've ever read, and it has been a long hunt to acquire a copy as it is so rare now. For a child, this is such a believable and unforgettable story - it's almost a crime that it is out of print. Yet that is what makes those of us who own it so much more blessed. I say to everyone who loves magical stories, find a copy, even if it takes your whole life.