In 1939, shortly before Vera Gissing’s eleventh birthday, she escaped from Occupied Czechoslovakia to Britain on a children’s transport. By the end of the war, she knew her parents had perished, yet she returned home, only to flee back to England three years later after the Communist coup. While raising her family she freelanced as an interpreter and as a translator and editor for various British publishers. She also wrote children's books.
When, in 1988, a reunion of her war-time school rekindled old memories and emotions, Vera opened the diaries she had kept for her parents throughout the war and wrote Pearls of Childhood. Written in the voice of a girl growing up in wartime Britain, this book tells the story of a whole community of refugee children whose lives were saved by the foresight and kindness of people such as the dedicated humanitarian Nicholas Winton, the subject of Nicholas Winton and the Rescued Generation, co-authored by Vera Gissing.
Vera’s story has been serialized on Czech radio and has become the subject of several television documentaries. She was also deeply involved in the Slovak biopic of Nicholas Winton, The Power of Good, which won the 2002 International Emmy for Best TV Documentary. Media and public interest in her extraordinary story has remained strong since its first publication in 1988.
Robson Books’ reprint of Pearls of Childhood will be available from January 2007.