David Almond

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David Almond

Almond in 2008
Almond in 2008
Born (1951-05-15) 15 May 1951 (age 72)
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
GenreChildren's novels, speculative fiction, magic realism
Notable works
Notable awardsCarnegie Medal
Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing
Eleanor Farjeon Award
SpouseJulia Green

David Almond OBE FRSL (born 15 May 1951) is a British author who has written many novels for children and young adults from 1998, each one receiving critical acclaim.

He is one of thirty children's writers, and one of three from the UK, to win the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award.[1][2] 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.[3] It ranked third in the public vote from that shortlist.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Almond was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1951 and raised in neighbouring Felling.[5] His father was an office manager in an engineering factory and his mother a shorthand typist. He was raised Catholic at St Joseph's Catholic Academy and had four sisters and one brother.[6] As a child, he dreamed of becoming a writer and "wrote stories and stitched them into little books."[6] He describes his childhood as one with "much joy" but also "much sadness," losing his younger sister and father at a young age.[6]

He was educated at the University of East Anglia and Newcastle Polytechnic.[5] After graduating, Almond worked as a teacher for five years; he then moved to an artists' commune in Norfolk and concentrated on his writing.[5] He returned to Newcastle and worked as a part-time special-needs teacher while editing the literary journal Panurge.[5]


Almond published his first collection of stories in 1985, Sleepless Nights. His second collection, 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 2000. In the next seven years, four more novels by Almond made the Carnegie Medal shortlist of five to eight books.[7] 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 (2008), 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 won the Hans Christian Andersen Award for his writing, which biennially recognises the "lasting contribution" of one living author.[1][8] (He had been one of five finalists in 2008.)[9] 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."[10] 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".[11] For his body of work Almond was also a British nominee for the Astrid Lindgren Award at the same time.[11] He is Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.

Honours and awards[edit]

Almond's major awards include the Hans Christian Andersen Award, Carnegie Medal (Skellig);[12] 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); the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize (A Song for Ella Grey); [13][14] Le Prix Sorcieres (France); the Katholischer Kinder-und Jugendbuchpreis (Germany); and a Silver Pencil and three Silver Kisses (Netherlands).[clarification needed][citation needed]

The Skellig prequel My Name is Mina (Hodder, 2010) was a finalist for three major annual awards: the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize,[15] the Carnegie Medal,[16] and the (German) Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis.[17] Almond was awarded the International Nonino Prize for 2022.

Almond was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2021 Birthday Honours for services to literature.[18]


  • Sleepless Nights (Cullercoats, Tyne and Wear: Iron Press, 1985), collection
  • A Kind of Heaven (Iron Press, 1997), collection
  • Skellig (Hodder Children's Books, 1998)
  • Kit's Wilderness (Hodder, 1999)
  • Counting Stars (Hodder, 2000), collection
  • Heaven Eyes (Hodder, 2000)
  • Secret Heart (Hodder, 2001)
  • Where Your Wings Were (Hodder, March 2002), collection – World Book Day selection from Counting Stars, OCLC 48487565
  • The Fire Eaters (Hodder, 2003)
  • Clay (Hodder, 2005)
  • My Dad's a Birdman, illus. Polly Dunbar (Walker Books, 2007)
  • Jackdaw Summer (Hodder, 2008); US title, Raven Summer
  • The Boy Who Climbed Into the Moon, illus. Dunbar (Walker, 2010)
  • My Name is Mina (Hodder, 2010) – prequel to Skellig
  • The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean (Penguin, 2011)
  • The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas, illus. Oliver Jeffers (Walker, 2012)
  • Mouse Bird Snake Wolf, illus. Dave McKean (Walker, 2013)
  • A Song for Ella Grey (Hodder, 2014)
  • The Tightrope Walkers (Penguin, 2014)
  • The Tale of Angelino Brown (Walker Books, 2017)
  • The Colour of the Sun (Hodder, 2018)
  • War Is Over, illus. David Litchfield (Hodder, 2018)
  • Brand New Boy, (Walker Books, 2020)
  • Annie Lumsden, the Girl from the Sea, illus. Beatrice Alemagna (Candlewick Press, 2021)
Picture books and graphic novels
  • Wild Girl, Wild Boy (2002)
  • My Dad's a Birdman
  • Noah & the Fludd
  • Skellig (2002), adaptation of his novel
  • Heaven Eyes, adaptation of his novel

Personal life[edit]

Almond now lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. He has a daughter, Freya.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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".[19][20]


  1. ^ a b "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  2. ^ "David Almond wins Hans Christian Andersen medal". Alison Flood. The Guardian 23 March 2010. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  3. ^ "70 Years Celebration: Anniversary Top Tens" Archived 27 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine. The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards. CILIP. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  4. ^ "Pullman children's book voted best in 70 years". John Ezard. The Guardian 21 June 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d "David Almond - Literature". literature.britishcouncil.org. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d "Walker Books - David Almond". walker.co.uk. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  7. ^ Press Desk (directory). CILIP. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 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.)
  8. ^ "David Almond, Jutta Bauer Win Hans Christian Andersen Awards". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  9. ^ "IBBY Announces Winners of 2008 Hans Christian Andersen Awards". IBBY. Press release 31 March 2008. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
  10. ^ "Presentation of the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 2010". Zohreh Ghaeni. IBBY. 11 September 2010. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  11. ^ a b "David Almond in running for prestigious children's book prize 'double'". Alison Flood. The Guardian 18 March 2010. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  12. ^ (Carnegie Winner 1998) Archived 6 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  13. ^ "David Almond wins Guardian children's fiction prize", The Guardian, 19 November 2015
  14. ^ "David Almond: Orpheus helped me write A Song for Ella Grey". David Almond. The Guardian. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
  15. ^ "Guardian children's fiction prize: the shortlist". Julia Eccleshare. The Guardian 30 September 2011. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  16. ^ [needs update] "The CILIP Carnegie Medal Shortlist for 2012" Archived 1 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine. CILIP. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  17. ^ "Mina". Arbeitskreis für Jugendliteratur e.V. (in German). Retrieved 19 September 2020.
  18. ^ "No. 63377". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 2021. p. B10.
  19. ^ "Michael L. Printz Winners and Honor Books". Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). American Library Association. (ALA)
  20. ^ "The Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature". YALSA. ALA. Retrieved 2013-07-29.

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