This is the page that I like to keep my voice memorabilia! During the span of an acting career covering some forty years or so, I was on the reading panel for The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) and in my time must have recorded several hundred books in various formats: on magnetic tape, on CD and of course lately in digital format. I wish I had been able to keep the collection simply because many of them were fine books by famous authors; but the RNIB for copyright reasons had to encrypt all their recordings and I never had the chance to keep any, so few survive!

Its funny though because Tony’s mother was a subscriber to the RNIB Recorded Books Library when her sight started failing, and tapes and CDs were sent out to her a lot with the special machines needed to play them. She was loyal and listened to some of my recordings and I was able to self-criticise; we received little direction in the studios where, at the time I started there in the early 1980’s, the studios were very busy with two studios run by one sound engineer simultaneously. An incredible feat when you think that for cost reasons, editing was done on the spot when mistakes were made. There was little time for direction and ours were DIY efforts. Sometimes there were amusing moments. I recorded Alan Hollinghurst’s THE SWIMING POOL LIBRARY in one studio while the King James Edition of THE BIBLE was being recorded in the other!

Then there were birthday presents for grandchildren. One year Tony asked me to record THE GRUFFALO’s CHILD for Jabe, his eldest Grandson. I had the help of Friend David Clough to put together a short tape – no frills – for the occasion and was so pleased to hear that other grandchildren in the wider Peake-Brooks-DeBeer Family listened to it.

The Gruffalo’s Child

The Story of Gulliver

Written by my friend Jonathan Coe, I recorded this sweet version of the story at his request. It was one of the most enjoyable recordings I have made. Have a listen and see what you think? There are only three tracks because of the copyright rules.

A taster : just three tracks!


And then one year, in 2017, Tony finished another book and asked me to record that for him. I asked the help of friends at the RNIB studios where I have been on the panel of readers for forty years. Two other books of his, A SUMMER TIDE, which Helen Bourne recorded in 1993, and SON TO THE FATHER which I voiced in 1995, were also recorded for the RNIB. Sadly the copyright rules prevent me from uploading the whole book here so there is only this taster, I’m afraid!

North Facing – a taster.

These are the covers of the books. Tony loves them because they are oils painted by our friend, Peter Unsworth, and hang in Tony’s study. We both admire his work and have several of his paintings, sketches and pastels. Again because of Copyright I cannot open the pages for you and share the stories but they are all available in various formats in the usual places! No movies yet though. We’re working on that too.

In 1990 I was asked by the Oxford based Audio Books Company, Isis to record Alan Paton’s masterpiece Cry, The Beloved Country. I was loaned by the RNIB to them and felt it a great honour. It is one of my favourite books and has subsequently been re-recorded by far more illustrious voices than my own, including Michael York and Ben Kingsley; in fact, in my instance, I was surprised they did not choose a black actor. It is recorded under my professional name and how I came to get that is another story!

Tracks 1 & 2, Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton. Read by Jon Cartwright.
Tracks 3 – 5, Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton. Read by Jon Cartwright.
Tracks 6 – 9, Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton. Read by Jon Cartwright.
Tracks 10 – 14, Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton. Read by Jon Cartwright.
Tracks 15 – 18, Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton. Read by Jon Cartwright.
Tracks 19 – 21 The end: Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton. Read by Jon Cartwright.

I also recorded some years later after he had had a chance to write it, Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. It was a mammoth undertaking and came in at just over 25 hours. I recorded it in 1994 and I see it is still in the RNIB Library though why it has not, rightfully, been superseded by Danny Glover’s recording I do not know. I’ve not heard his version and I would be intrigued to know how he got his tongue round all those Xhosa words and names!