David Almond in 2008
15 May 1951 |
Thirlmere, Felling, Tyne and Wear, England, UK
|Genres||Children's novels, speculative fiction, Magic Realism|
|Notable award(s)||Carnegie Medal
Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing
He is one of thirty children's writers, and one of three from the U.K., to win the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award, "the world's most prestigious prize in children's literature". For the 70th anniversary of the British Carnegie Medal in 2007, his debut novel Skellig (1998) was named one of the top ten Medal-winning works, selected by a panel to compose the ballot for a public election of the all-time favourite. It ranked third in the public vote from that shortlist.
Almond was born and raised in Felling and Newcastle upon Tyne. In post-industrial North East England, his father was an office manager in an engineering factory and his mother a shorthand typist. He was educated at St. Joseph's R.C. Grammar Technical School in Hebburn and the University of East Anglia where he studied English and American Literature. His second novel, A Kind of Heaven, appeared in 1987. He then wrote a series of stories which drew on his own childhood, and which would eventually be published as Counting Stars, published by Hodder in 2001.
Those stories led directly to his first children's novel, Skellig (1999), set in Newcastle. It won the 1998 Whitbread Award, Children's Book and the Carnegie Medal. It has been published in over thirty languages. And it has become a radio play scripted by Almond; a stage play scripted by Almond, first production at the Young Vic, directed by Trevor Nunn; an opera with libretto by Almond, composed by Tod Machover, first directed by Braham Murray at The Sage in Gateshead; and a film directed by Annabel Jankel, with Tim Roth as Skellig.
In the next seven years, four more novels by Almond made the Carnegie Medal shortlist of five to eight books. Since Skellig his novels, stories, and plays have also brought international success and widespread critical acclaim. They are Kit's Wilderness (1999), Heaven Eyes (2000), Secret Heart (2001), The Fire Eaters (2003), Clay (2005), Jackdaw Summer (2009), and My Name is Mina (2010), a prequel to Skellig. He collaborates with leading artists and illustrators, including Polly Dunbar (My Dad's a Birdman and The Boy Who Climbed Into the Moon); Stephen Lambert (Kate, the Cat and the Moon; and Dave McKean (The Savage, Slog's Dad and the forthcoming Mouse Bird Snake Wolf). His plays include Wild Girl, Wild Boy, My Dad's a Birdman, Noah & the Fludd and the stage adaptations of Skellig and Heaven Eyes.
Almond's novel The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean (2011) was published in two editions: Adult (Penguin Viking); and Young Adult (Puffin). 2012 publications include The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas (illustrated by Oliver Jeffers). In 2013, Mouse Bird Snake Wolf (illustrated by Dave McKean) was published.
His works are highly philosophical and thus appeal to children and adults alike. Recurring themes throughout include the complex relationships between apparent opposites (such as life and death, reality and fiction, past and future); forms of education; growing up and adapting to change; the nature of the "self". He has been greatly influenced by the works of the English Romantic poet William Blake.
In November 2008 he was a guest on Private Passions, the biographical music discussion programme on BBC Radio 3. In November 2012 an edition of BBC Radio 4's Bookclub is dedicated to Skellig. He has written and recorded an essay on the poet, Caedmon, to be broadcast as part of BBC Radio 3's Anglo Saxon Portraits series. His story, Francesca and the Tiger, is published in the new Waterstone's anthology, Red.
He currently (2013) lives with his family, the sculptor/ceramicist Sara Jane Palmer, and their daughter Freya, in Humshaugh, Northumberland, England, about 25 miles from Newcastle, "just beyond the Roman Wall, which for centuries marked the place where civilisation ended and the waste lands began."
On 10 March 2013 he was the guest on the long-running BBC Radio 4 series Desert Island Discs (repeated 15 March 2013).
In 2010 David Almond became the 29th recipient of the so-called Nobel Prize for children's literature, the international Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing, which biennially recognises the "lasting contribution" of one living author. (He had been one of five finalists in 2008.) The jury president, Ms Zohreh Ghaeni from Iran, observed that Almond "writes about children in crisis, while continuously giving hope to them", and cited in particular his first two novels, Skellig and Kit's Wilderness. She called "bibliotherapy" such as she attributed to Almond "a vital activity for all children around the world." When it named him a finalist months before, the international jury cited his "deeply philosophical novels that appeal to children and adults alike, and encourage readers by his use of magic realism". For his body of work Almond was also a British nominee for the Astrid Lindgren Award at the same time.
Almond's major awards include the Carnegie Medal (Skellig); two Whitbread Awards; the U.S. Michael L. Printz Award for young-adult books (Kit's Wilderness);[a] the Smarties Prize, ages 9–11 years (The Fire-Eaters); the U.S. Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, Children's Fiction (The Fire-Eaters); Le Prix Sorcieres (France); the Katholischer Kinder-und Jugendbuchpreis (Germany); and a Silver Pencil and three Silver Kisses (Netherlands).[clarification needed]
The Skellig prequel My Name is Mina (Hodder, 2010) was a finalist for three major annual awards: the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, the Carnegie Medal, and the (German) Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis.
- The American Library Association inaugurated its annual Printz Award for young-adult books with 1999 U.S. publications. Through 2012 no one has won two. With Skellig one of three inaugural runners-up and Kit's Wilderness the winner of the second Award (dated 2001), Almond is one of two writers with one Printz Medal and one "Honor Book".
"Michael L. Printz Winners and Honor Books". Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). American Library Association. (ALA).
"The Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature". YALSA. ALA. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
- "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 2012-08-20.
- "David Almond wins Hans Christian Andersen medal". Alison Flood. The Guardian 23 March 2010. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
- "70 Years Celebration: Anniversary Top Tens". The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
- "Pullman children's book voted best in 70 years". John Ezard. The Guardian 21 June 2007. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
- ""Biography of David Almond". David Almond Online (davidalmond.com). Retrieved 9 November 2012.
- My First Novel:David Almond.[dead link] (or subscription required?)
- Press Desk (directory). CILIP. Retrieved 2012-08-17. Quote: "media releases relating to the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards in date order." (2002 to 2006 releases concern 2001 to 2005 awards.)
- "BBC Radio 3". BBC News. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
- online text[dead link]
- Davis, Laura (15 September 2009). "David Almond on collaborating with illustrator Dave McKean on the Liverpool Reads book The Savage". Liverpool Daily Post. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
- "Weldon and Hensher head to Bath Spa". The Bookseller. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
- "IBBY Announces Winners of 2008 Hans Christian Andersen Awards". IBBY. Press release 31 March 2008. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
- "Presentation of the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 2010". Zohreh Ghaeni. IBBY. 11 September 2010. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
- "David Almond in running for prestigious children's book prize 'double'". Alison Flood. guardian.co.uk 18 March 2010. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
- (Carnegie Winner 1998). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
- "Guardian children's fiction prize: the shortlist". Julia Eccleshare. guardian.co.uk 30 September 2011. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
- [dated info] "The CILIP Carnegie Medal Shortlist for 2012". CILIP. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
- Official website
- David Almond at Walker Books
- David Almond at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- David Almond at the Internet Book List
- David Almond at British Council: Literature
- Interview with David Almond at BBC Blast[dead link]
- "Caedmon, the Oldest Surviving English Poet" (audio), David Almond on Caedmon, BBC Radio 3 Anglo-Saxon Portraits, broadcast 23 January 2013