Ian Serraillier

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Ian Serraillier (24 September 1912 – 28 November 1994) was a British novelist and poet. He also retold legends from Rome, Greece and England, and was best known for his children's books, especially The Silver Sword (1956), a wartime adventure story that was adapted for television by the BBC in 1957 and again in 1971.

Early life[edit]

Serraillier was born in London on 24 September 1912.He was the eldest of the four children of Lucien Serraillier (1886–1919) and Mary Kirkland Rodger (1883–1940). His father died as a result of the 1918 flu pandemic. He was educated at Brighton College and at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and became an English teacher, at Wycliffe College in Gloucestershire from 1936 to 1939, at Dudley Grammar School in Worcestershire from 1939 to 1946, and at Midhurst Grammar School in West Sussex from 1946 to 1961. As a Quaker he was granted conscientious objector status in the Second World War. Serraillier was a member of the Peace Pledge Union.[1][2]

In 1946 his first children’s novel was published. It was followed by several more adventure stories including "They Raced For Treasure" - of treasure and spies. His best known work, The Silver Sword, was published in 1956. It brings to life the story of four refugee children. Three of the children are siblings: Ruth, Edek and Bronia. Jan is another of the many Warsaw war orphans who has somehow met their father and then fainted near the bombed-out basement that serves as home for the siblings. The four join together in their search for the siblings' parents in the chaos of Europe immediately after the Second World War. In the United States the book was published under the title Escape from Warsaw.

Beginning in 1961, he devoted most of his time to the writing of fiction and non-fiction, poems, retellings of ancient legends for children, and educational programs for television.

The Ivory Horn, his retelling of the Roland legend, was a runner-up for the Carnegie Medal (as was The Silver Sword).

As a popular children's author he was invited to Children's Literature Summer Camps for members of the Puffin Book Club, run by Colony Holidays (predecessor to ATE Superweeks) along with other popular children's authors such as Joan Aiken and Clive King.[3]

As well as children’s novels and verse, Serraillier produced his own retellings of classic tales in prose and verse, including Beowulf, works by Chaucer and Greek myths. In 1948, together with his wife, Anne Margaret Rogers, he founded the New Windmill Series, published by Heinemann Educational Books, which set out to provide inexpensive editions of good stories, including fiction, travel and biography for older readers. He continued as co-editor of the series until the onset of Alzheimer's disease in the early 1990s. The illness contributed to his death at the age of 82.

Personal life[edit]

He lived and worked in an old flint cottage near Chichester in Sussex. He and his wife had three daughters and a son.

Papers of Ian Serraillier[edit]

The "Papers of Ian Serraillier", held at the University of Reading, largely comprise manuscripts, typescripts and galley proofs, including Fight for Freedom, The Clashing Rocks, The Cave of Death, Havelock the Dane, They Raced for Treasure, Flight to Adventure and The Silver Sword. They also contain correspondence with publishers; other business and literary correspondence; notebooks with poems, ideas and story outlines; rejection letters; publishers' agreements; press cuttings; research material; lecture notes and typescripts; obituaries, and other miscellaneous papers.