Subsequently, Carey explores Kerr’s early artistic efforts, displaying several drawings she created as a child while in exile in Switzerland, France and, from 1938, Britain. Thankfully saved for posterity by Kerr’s mother, the composer Julia Kerr, the images allow us to witness the emergence of an illustrator and storyteller intent on documenting her unusual travels with a steady stream of sketches and multi-lingual captions.
The Kerrs eventually made it to Bloomsbury, London, which by the start of the Second World War had become a hub for refugees fleeing from all over Europe. Kerr’s experiences during this time, and in particular during the Blitz, became the basis for her second of three autobiographical novels about the Nazi era, Bombs on Aunt Dainty.
“It was at this testing time that Kerr believes she ‘became a Brit’,” Carey tells us. “The tolerance displayed towards her family — officially ‘Friendly Enemy Aliens’ — and the humour and fortitude with which the population withstood the German onslaught impressed her deeply.”