||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (September 2009)|
11 September 1961 |
|Occupation||Writer, radio personality|
|Notable work(s)||Eddie Dickens series|
Philip Ardagh (born 11 September 1961, London)[inconsistent] is an English children's author, primarily known for the Eddie Dickens series of books. He has written more than 70 books including adult fiction and children's non-fiction. He is also a BBC Radio scriptwriter and presenter.
During 2004 and 2005 Ardagh collaborated with Sir Paul McCartney and illustrator-animator Geoff Dunbar to create McCartney's first children's book, High in the Clouds. Published simultaneously in the UK and US and other countries in October 2005, there was an initial print run of half-a-million copies in the United States. The Observer called it "a tale about the perils of unchecked global capitalism".
Early life and career
Philip Ardagh was born in 1961, in Kent, England,[inconsistent] where he grew up with one brother. He was christened at St Paul's Cathedral in London by the Canon Residentiary, Chancellor and Chapter Treasurer, Frederick Hood, who co-wrote, with poet laureate John Betjeman, the introduction to the book Folly Farm by philosopher Cyril Joad.
Ardagh was educated privately at five different schools including The King's School. He did not apply to go to university but got a place at Watford College of Art in the advertisement copywriting course, then the only one in Britain.
After a placement at the London advertising agency, Darcy McManus & Masius, he found full-time employment at the McCann-Erickson advertising agency, located beneath what is now known as BT Tower. There he met children's writer Anthony Horowitz, who joined the agency just as Ardagh was leaving.[clarification needed] He later became a library assistant for the London Borough of Lewisham Leisure Services (Downham Library).
Philip described his appearance as a child as "an above-average-height kid", and now measures 6 feet, 8 inches tall (2.03m).
After years of working seven days a week writing non-fiction titles and retelling myths and legends (often for 'fixed-fee' non-royalty payments), Philip Ardagh became an overnight success with Awful End (published in 2000), originally written as letters sent to his nephew Ben.
Ardagh has achieved both critical and popular acclaim for his work. Set in Victorian England, his Eddie Dickens books have been described as "A cross between Dickens and Monty Python" (The Guardian) and he himself as "a national treasure" (The Independent).
Popular in Germany, he has won both the Luchs (Lynx) Prize and the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis.[clarification needed] Some American critics have accused Ardagh of "jumping on the Lemony Snicket bandwagon", but he created Eddie Dickens in letters to Ben long before the first Snicket book was published. Ardagh once described the Snicket books as being more an homage to Edgar Allan Poe, while his own Eddie Dickens books were an homage to Charles Dickens. (Yet his title The Rise of the House of McNally is derived from Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher.)
The movie rights to the Eddie Dickens books were optioned by Circle of Confusion's Jason Lust for Warner Bros., with director Francis Lawrence slated in to direct. The option was renewed and Lawrence was replaced by young Canadian director Brad Peyton. Lust has since become a key player in Henson's movie division, but remained a producer on the Eddie Dickens project until Warner's second option ran out at the end of 2006. A number of producers are currently interested in developing the project.
As well as writing novels, Ardagh also writes for BBC radio. His children’s dramas have included BBC radio’s first truly interactive radio drama, the nightly 'Arthur Storey and the Department of Historical Correction' (in which he also appeared as the announcer), and (for BBC Radio 4’s GO4IT!) the six-week radio serial 'Secret Undercover Vets On Ice' he played himself and also 'pigeon on a ledge'. His adult work has included stories for BBC Radio 3, Radio 4 and Radio 7.
Philip Ardagh is of Irish extraction. He is married and has one son.
Ardagh embarked on Unlikely Exploits, a three-book series about the fall and rise of the downtrodden McNally family. In the first paragraph of the first chapter of the first book, The Fall of Fergal, young Fergal McNally falls to his death from a hotel window. It was serialized BBC Radio 4.
The second book, Heir of Mystery, saw the introduction of Mr Maggs, a man with a head the shape of a pumpkin and with a shark's-tooth smile. Mr Maggs's Manifesto of Change is an example of Ardagh’s quirky trademark style, with such suggested changes as moving the letter Q further down the alphabet, nearer to X, Y and Z, "where it rightfully belongs" and banning the word "cruet" as the collective term for salt and pepper.
The third and final Unlikely Exploit is The Rise of the House of McNally. The McNallys' powers are finally revealed and the three books are tied together.
Unlikely Exploits was illustrated by David Roberts, who also illustrated the Eddie Dickens series.
Just before the Bologna Children's Book Fair 2008, it was announced that Ardagh had signed a deal with his publisher Faber & Faber to write three Grubtown Tales: books for young children set in the fictitious (and rather grubby) town of Grubtown. All three were set to be published in 2009, however the series continued after that.
Ardagh has written two humorous books for adults: The Not-So-Very-Nice Goings-On At Victoria Lodge: Without Illustrations By The Author and The Silly Side of Sherlock Holmes: A Brand New Adventure Using A Bunch of Old Pictures.
The first uses pictures taken from the 19th-century Girls' Own Paper and the second uses illustrations of the original Sherlock Holmes stories taken from The Strand Magazine. A third, The Scandalous Life of the Lawless Sisters: Criminally Illustrated With What Was To Hand uses pictures from Punch from the year 1880. He is also a regular reviewer of children's books for The Guardian and has been a judge for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize.
- Children's fiction
- Awful End (US: A House Called Awful End) [The Eddie Dickens Trilogy] (2000)
- Dreadful Acts [The Eddie Dickens Trilogy] (2001)
- Terrible Times [The Eddie Dickens Trilogy] (2002)
- Dubious Deeds [The Further Adventures of Eddie Dickens]
- Horrendous Habits [The Further Adventures of Eddie Dickens]
- Final Curtain [The Further Adventures of Eddie Dickens]
- The Fall of Fergal [Unlikely Exploits]
- Heir of Mystery [Unlikely Exploits]
- The Rise of the House of McNally [Unlikely Exploits]
- Stinking Rich and Just Plain Stinky [Grubtown Tales]
- The Far From Great Escape [Grubtown Tales]
- The Year That It Rained Cows [Grubtown Tales]
- Trick Eggs and Rubber Chickens [Grubtown Tales]
- High In the Clouds: (with Sir Paul McCartney & Geoff Dunbar)
- Adult fiction
- The Not-So-Very-Nice Goings-On At Victoria Lodge, Without Illustrations by the Author
- The Silly Side of Sherlock Holmes, A Brand New Adventure Using A Bunch of Old Pictures
- The Hieroglyphs Handbook, Teach Yourself Ancient Egyptian
- The Archaeologist's Handbook, An Insider's Guide to Digging Up The Past
- WOW! Ideas that Changed the World
- WOW! Events that Changed the World
- WOW! Inventions that Changed the World
- WOW! Discoveries that Changed the World
- The Truth About Christmas
- The Truth About Love
- The Truth About Fairies
- Why Are Castles Castle-Shaped?
- Did Dinosaurs Snore?
- The History Detectives series (with Colin King)
- The Get A Life series
- Philip Ardagh's Book Of Absolutely Useless Lists For Absolutely Every Day of The Year
- Luchs (Lynx) Prize (Awarded by Die Zeit newspaper in Germany)
- Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (German youth literature prize)
- Roald Dahl Funny Prize 2009 (category seven-to-14 years)
- Merritt, Stephanie (17 December 2005). "It took him years to write ...: Stephanie Merritt takes a look at Paul McCartney's anti-capitalist children's book, High in the Clouds". The Observer. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
- Adams, Stephen (10 November 2009). "Veteran author wins Roald Dahl Funny Prize". Telegraph (London). Retrieved 15 November 2009.
- Hahn, Daniel (15 November 2009). "King of tall tales: Why children's author Philip Ardagh's is literature's biggest joker". The Independent (London). Retrieved 15 November 2009.
- Official website
- Philip Ardagh at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Philip Ardagh at Library of Congress Authorities — with 28 catalogue records