Friday, 9 September 2011

Close encounters with children's writers, part 3

In 1991 I was spending three weeks as a guest lecturer at the University of Reading. My good friend and colleague Tony Watkins mentioned, among many other exciting things going on, that there was a writer in residence, "not a very famous one, but he has written some good historical novels". Sadly, I had to leave in the middle of my visit due to family circumstances, so I never got to meet the historical novelist, who, some years later, became famous for something else.

In February 2005, the Swedish Embassy in London gave a reception for all British nominees for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. The embassy employees were perplexed. "What is it about children's literature? We invited these people, and they all came!" Yes, they all came, Diana Wynne Jones and Shirley Hughes and John Burningham and Philip Pullman and all cream of the cream of British children's literature. They all said it was a great honour to have been nominated. I shook hands with them, I said how delighted I was to meet them. I was delighted to meet them. I was especially delighted to meet someone I knew was getting the award, but of course I wasn't allowed even to hint. Yet I did. I said: "I hope to see you in Stockholm soon". I did, three months later, at the award ceremony.

Yesterday, at the Philippa Pearce memorial lecture, I asked my dear friend Morag for a special privilege: could she ask the Author to sign a book for my granddaughter. There was a signing session, but since my book was pre-signed, I jumped the line to collect it and say a quick thank you. The Author looked up from the piles of books he was signing and said: "Good to see you. Was it in Stockholm I saw you last?" "No, I said, it was in Oxford. Also known as the Other Place". The Author smiled.


Staffan Skott said...

Inte "the Other Place".

"Another Place", dear.

På svenska kan man också säga Tjurvadet.

Cornelia said...

I remember first reading "The Golden Compass" and "The Subtle Knife". I was working as an intern at the International Youth Library when the latter had just been published, and had been assigned the task of reading and indexing a pile of English books for the library's online catalogue. My brain felt electrified. When I showed the list of keywords I had produced for these books to my supervisor she gave me an incredulous look and said "really?!".