Elizabeth Arnold (children's writer)

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Elizabeth Arnold (children's writer)
Born (1944-12-15) December 15, 1944 (age 73)
Leicester, United Kingdom
Occupation Children’s author
Language English
Alma mater Open University
Genre Children’s literature
Years active 1995-present

Susan Elizabeth Arnold (born 15 December 1944)[1] is an English writer of children's fiction.


She was born in Leicester. Her family moved several times during her childhood. She was the eldest of five sisters, including triplets. Having left school at 15, she later took a City and Guilds course for science technicians, and eventually gained an Open University degree in science and technology. She now lives with her husband in Southampton.[2] Her own favourite children's book is Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, which was " the first book I became truly aware of, from the age of about two. My father used to read it to me at bedtime."[3]


Having worked for many years as a school science technician and a quality control manager, Elizabeth Arnold came to write The Parsley Parcel,[4] her first novel, out of a love of folklore, and originally with adults in mind rather than children. Set among Gypsies in the New Forest, it was shortlisted for the Beefeater (Whitbread) Children's Book Award in 1995, appeared in paperback in 1996, and was reissued in 1998. An audio version read by Nerys Hughes also appeared in 1998, and it formed the basis for the seven-part Gypsy Girl ITV series in 2001.[5] The main character is Freya, a Romany girl with benign magic powers, played on TV by Gemma Gregory,[6] with Eleanor Bron as her great-grandmother.[3] The Freya or Gypsy Girl Trilogy was completed with Gold and Silver Water,[7] and A Riot of Red Ribbons.[8]

Arnold has written about how she came to name her character: "Freya was a Romany child, and in ancient Romany culture a child had three names. A formal name; a pet or nickname, and a secret name. The secret name is whispered by a mother to her child only twice; at the moment of birth and once more when the child is old enough to remember.... I chose Freya as my heroine’s formal name. Freya, named after the goddess Freya born on Friday. This was important because in The Parsley Parcel, special magic would be worked on Good Friday. Her pet name was Chime. Why? Because she was a Chime-Child, a gypsy girl born with special powers to work special enchantments. Her secret name? It’s a secret, of course, that she and I will share forever."[9]

Other work[edit]

Other chapter books by Elizabeth Arnold have included The Gold-Spectre,[10] and Spin of the Sunwheel, which was nominated for the Carnegie Medal in 1999[11] – a young-adult fantasy novel from Mammoth Books of London[12] (her regular publisher). Scraggy Flies High,[13] Thief in the Garden,[14] and The Triple Trouble Gang[15] are storybooks for younger children. She contributed to a book of children's stories sold in aid of tsunami victims,[16] edited a book of children's stories written by children,[17] and provided a story for the anthology Hipp-O-Dee-Doo-Day, sold in aid of Children's Hospices UK.[18]


  1. ^ The US Library of Congress cites 1998 correspondence between the British Library and Arnold. Arnold, Elizabeth, 1944–". Library of Congress Name Authority File. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2014-10-19.
  2. ^ Jubilee Books website: Retrieved 17 August 2011.; Scattered Authors' Society website: Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  3. ^ a b The Word Pool. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  4. ^ London: Heinemann, 1995. ISBN 0-434-97182-0.
  5. ^ Cast, etc.: Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  6. ^ Filmography: Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  7. ^ London: Mammoth, 1997. ISBN 0-7497-2154-5.
  8. ^ London: Mammoth, 1998. ISBN 0-7497-2915-5.
  9. ^ Website of children's author Paeony Lewis. Retrieved 30 December 2012.
  10. ^ London: A. & C. Black, 2003. ISBN 0-7136-6655-2.
  11. ^ London: Mammoth, 1999. ISBN 0-7497-3389-6.
  12. ^ "Bibliography: Spin of the Sunwheel". ISFDB. Retrieved 2014-10-19.
  13. ^ London: Mammoth, 1998. ISBN 0-7497-3313-6.
  14. ^ London: Mammoth, 1999. ISBN 0-7497-3598-8
  15. ^ London: Mammoth, 2000. ISBN 0-7497-4162-7.
  16. ^ Higher Ground, ed. Anuj Goyal (London: Chrysalis Children's Books, 2005) ISBN 1844585816
  17. ^ Soul-Fire. Stroud, UK, 2006. ISBN 1-904529-18-6.
  18. ^ Ed. Gill James. Manchester, UK: Bridge House Publishing, 2011. ISBN 9781907335112

External links[edit]

As of October 2014, WorldCat catalogues 7 of her books (linked below).