Alison Prince

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Alison Prince (born 26 March 1931)[1] is a British children's writer, screenwriter and biographer, who settled on the Isle of Arran in Scotland.[2][3]


Born in Beckenham, Kent[1] (now in Greater London), Prince grew up in South London. She went to a girls' grammar school, where she enjoyed grammar and Latin, but not maths. Her parents were from Scotland and Yorkshire. Her father was a keen pianist, and Prince herself still plays the clarinet. As a child she enjoyed visiting Scottish relatives in Glasgow.

After completing a degree course at the Slade School of Art, where she had won a scholarship, Prince found only casual, low-paid jobs unrelated to art. She later took a postgraduate teaching diploma at Goldsmith's College, then taught art at the Elliott Comprehensive School, in Putney. She married a fellow teacher there, had three children, which interrupted her teaching career, and turned instead to occasional journalism. After the marriage ended, she ran a small farm in Suffolk for eight years.[4]

From television to books[edit]

Prince later moved into writing for children's television, achieving fame with the Trumpton series for pre-schoolers, first screened in 1967. Her first book was Joe and a Horse and other stories about Joe from 'Watch with Mother', with Joan Hickson, a 1968 spin-off from the BBC pre-school program Watch with Mother.[3][5][a] In the late 1970s, she turned to writing books for children, some based on historical characters. They include My Royal Story about Catherine of Aragon, which was re-released in 2010. How's Business (1987), set in World War II, made the shortlist for the Nestle Smarties Book Prize.

The Sherwood Hero (1995) is a modern-day Robin Hood story for young adults, about a girl stealing a credit card from her father's client, drawing £100, attempting to hand it out to the poor in the streets of Glasgow, and then coping with the guilt. For this Prince was a joint winner (with Philip Pullman) of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, a once-in-a-lifetime book award judged by a panel of British children's writers.[6] Her thriller Oranges and Murder was the Scottish Arts Council Children's Book of the Year in 2002.[7] Translations of her books have been published in several languages, including Danish, German, Japanese, and Welsh.[8]

Mainly for adults, Prince wrote well-received biographies of Kenneth Grahame (1994, reissued 2009) and Hans Christian Andersen (1998), a collection of essays on formative thinking,[9] two booklets of poetry,[10] and two volumes of pieces that had originally appeared in a local Arran newspaper.

In 2005, Alison Prince received an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of Leicester for services to children's books.[3][11]

Forbidden Soldier, a children's book about the second phase of the English Civil War, appeared in 2014, as did The Lost King: Richard III and the Princes in the Tower, a biography of Richard III, whose remains were dug up in 2013 in a Leicester car park.[12]

Selected works[edit]

* These titles are or have recently been available in the UK, according to the websites of major internet booksellers.

  • Forbidden Soldier (2014)*
  • The Lost King (2014)*
  • No Ordinary Love Song (2011)*
  • Henry VIII's Wives (2011)*
  • Catherine of Aragon (2010)*
  • Web (2010)*
  • Elizabeth (2010)*
  • Tudor Stories for Girls (2009)*
  • The Sherwood Nightmare (2008)
  • Outbreak (2008)*
  • Help (2008)*
  • Princes in the Tower (2008)*
  • Speed (2006)
  • Jacoby's Game (2006)*
  • Doodlebug Summer (2006)*
  • Smoke (2005)
  • Tower-Block Pony (2004)
  • The Summerhouse (2004)
  • Luck (2004)*
  • Anne Boleyn and Me: the diary of Elinor Valjean, London 1525–1536 (2004)*
  • Three Blind Eyes (2003)*
  • The Whifflet Train (2003)
  • Spud (2003)
  • Turnaround (2002)*
  • Oranges and Murder (2002)
  • Dora Saves the Prince (2002)
  • Boojer (2002)
  • The Fortune Teller (2001)
  • My Tudor Queen (2001)*
  • Bumble (2001)
  • Bird Boy (2001)*
  • Dear Del (2001)*
  • Second Chance (2000)*
  • Acts of Union (2000)
  • A Nation Again (2000)
  • A Biker's Ghost (2000)
  • The Biggish Ewe (1999)
  • Dear Del (1999)
  • Cat Number Three (1999)*
  • Hans Christian Andersen: the fan dancer (1998)*
  • Magic Dad (1997)
  • Fergus, Fabulous Ferret (1997)
  • Fatso's Rat (1997)
  • The Witching Tree (1996)
  • The Sherwood Hero (1995)
  • On Arran (1994)
  • Kenneth Grahame: an innocent in the Wild Wood (1994)*
  • Having Been in the City (1994)*
  • A Dog Called You (1993)
  • A Book of Arran Poetry (edited with Cicely Gill, 1993)
  • The Necessary Goat (1992)
  • Blue Moon and other stories (1988)
  • A Haunting Refrain (1988)
  • How's Business? (1987)
  • The Type One Super Robot (1986)
  • The Others (1986)
  • Nick's October (1986)
  • A Job for Merv (1986)
  • Rock On, Mill Green (1985)
  • Scramble! (1984)
  • Night Landings (illustrated by Edward Mortelmans, 1983)
  • A Spy at Mill Green (1983)
  • The Sinister Airfield (illus. Edward Mortelmans, 1982)
  • Mill Green on Stage (1982)
  • Mill Green on Fire (1982)
  • Haunted Children (1982)
  • Who Wants Pets? (1980)
  • The Turkey's Nest (1979)
  • The Night I Sold My Boots (1979)
  • Whosaurus? Dinosaurus, with Joan Hickson (1975)
  • The Doubting Kind (1975)
  • Joe and the Nursery School, with Joan Hickson (1972)
  • Joe Moves House, with Joan Hickson (1972)
  • The Joe Annual, with Joan Hickson (1971)
  • The Red Alfa (1971)
  • The House on the Common (1969)
  • Joe and a Horse and other stories about Joe from 'Watch with Mother', with Joan Hickson (BBC, 1968)[3][5]


  1. ^ Prince was scriptwriter for the Watch with Mother "Joe" subseries in autumn 1966 and spring 1971. Joan Hickson (not the actress) was production designer for "Joe".


  1. ^ a b Alison Prince at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved 4 June 2013. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
  2. ^ "Faber author page on Alison Prince". Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d "British Council page on Alison Prince". Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  4. ^ "Publisher's page on Alison Walker". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
  5. ^ a b Joe and a Horse in libraries (WorldCat catalog). Retrieved 4 June 2013.
  6. ^ "Guardian children's fiction prize relaunched: Entry details and list of past winners". 12 March 2001. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  7. ^ Books from Scotland site Retrieved 5 June 2013. Error in Webarchive template: Timestamp not a number.
  8. ^ "WorldCat on Alison". Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  9. ^ The Necessary Goat (Glasgow: Taranis, 1992). Scottish Poetry Library site. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  10. ^ Having Been in the City (Edinburgh: Taranis, [1994]); The Whifflet Train (Mariscat Press, 2003). Scottish Poetry Society site. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  11. ^ "Web Site of Alison Prince". Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  12. ^ Amazon listings Retrieved 11 October 2014.; author's website. Retrieved 1 December 2013.

External links[edit]