About the Author

I was born near Ely, in the Fens, three years before World War 2 started. My father was a printer but, like most men, he was called up into the army. I had no brothers or sisters and lived with my mother, who ran a small stationery shop.

I was a solitary child, and a bit of a dreamer. I quite liked being alone and spent a lot of time roaming the countryside. I also read a lot. My favourite books were Biggles, Just William and the Swallows and Amazons. All three were series, and I loved them because every time you opened a new book all your favourite characters would be there.

Every Wednesday evening a big bundle of magazines and comics arrived at our shop, tied with string, and delivered from the railway station. These were all arranged in the shop for sale the next day – but I was able to read all the comics the night before. There were Comic Cuts, Film Fun, Dandy, Beano, and Mickey Mouse. I loved them all.

I knew before I was ten that I wanted to make up stories, and best of all would be to make up a whole series of books.

As an adult, I co-wrote and edited works about children’s literature and the way children read the books they come across (see below). I enjoyed doing that, but as soon as I had the time I started to write my own stories for children.

While I was writing Paradise Barn I had the idea for the next one. This happened with the others too. The books were turning into a series.

I have not finished writing for children. But my most recent publication – The Cuckoo Season – is an adult novel. It is set in the post-War period, in 1952. You can read it free of charge here on the obooko website.

I am writing a sequel, set in 1960.

I like gardening, walking, and cats. You can’t usually combine the last two activities, but I did once have a cat who came on walks with me. After about a mile, he always got tired and had to be carried home.

I have a tortoise. I found him when I was walking in a wood nearly fifty years ago. My wife named him Houdini because he is very good at escaping.

My academic publications include the worldwide reference book ~

The Cambridge Guide to Children’s Books in English (Cambridge University Press) 2001

and ~

Coming of Age in Children’s Literature (Continuum Studies in Children’s Literature) 2003, with Margaret Meek

Reading Series Fiction, from Arthur Ransome to Gene Kemp (Routledge/Falmer) 2000

~ and many others, mostly co-written or co-edited with Morag Styles and other colleagues.

I am currently preparing a new book on the work of the distinguished children’s author and gardener, Lucy Boston. It will be called Lucy Boston – An Artist in Everything She Did.