By happy coincidence, one of my best origami friends is the son of a Ladybird Author, Barbara Brill. She wrote "Elisabeth Gaskell" and "Robert Louis Stephenson". Here are some brief notes from an interview she kindly gave me at her home in Cheshire. Sadly, Barbara passed on in Decmeber 2000.
LB offered no guidelines for the format of the book, so BB bought a copy of "Charles Darwin" and used that as a blueprint for layout and word-count, 20 pages of text, 20 illustrations or so. For Stephenson, she researched his life, then decided on 20 key events, drawing up a brief synopsis for each. This, along with a sample page of "expanded" text, went to LB for approval, which they duly gave. She was given 12 copies of her books, most of which went to friends. She never met the artist Roger Hall, but sent him photographs she took around Knutsford & these were used as the basis for some of the illustrations. The book was written on a typewriter, although notes were prepared long-hand.
Always an enthusiastic writer, Barabara contacted LB with other ideas for books, including "Men of Iron and Steel", but having given her the go-ahead to research it, they duly pulled out at the last minute. An idea for serialising Shakespeare's best-known plays was refused as having "no market". This seems like a real "missed opportunity", since they would have undoubtedly been best sellers. Barbara kindly lent me her entire archive of correspondence with LB, some of which may appear on this site at a later date.
Despite her advancing years, you couldn't have met a kinder, more alert interviewee. Added to this, her home-made apple pies were wonderful!