Jan Mark

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Jan Mark
BornJanet Marjorie Brisland
(1943-06-22)22 June 1943
Welwyn Garden City, England
Died16 January 2006(2006-01-16) (aged 62)
Oxford, England
GenreChildren's & young adult
Notable worksThunder and Lightnings, Handles
Notable awardsCarnegie Medal

Jan Mark (22 June 1943 – 16 January 2006) was a British writer best known for children's books. In all she wrote over fifty novels and plays and many anthologised short stories. She won the annual Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book by a British subject, both for Thunder and Lightnings (1976) and for Handles (1983).[1][2] She was also a "Highly Commended" runner up for Nothing To Be Afraid Of (1980). In addition, she has won the Carnegie Medal twice.[3][a]


Janet Marjorie Brisland was born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire and was raised and educated in Ashford in Kent.[4] She was a secondary school teacher between 1965 and 1971 and became a full-time writer in 1974. She was married once and divorced, and was survived by her daughter Isobel and son Alex.

Mark is known for acutely observed short stories that are concise and show an imaginative use of language.[5] She also wrote novels about seemingly ordinary children in contemporary settings, such as Thunder and Lightnings, as well as science fiction novels set in their own universes with their own rules, such as The Ennead. Her last works include the young adult novels The Eclipse of the Century and Useful Idiots.

The title of Thunder and Lightnings, a story set in rural Norfolk, is a reference to the British RAF jet fighter the English Electric Lightning and in turn inspired the name of a website documenting Cold War British military aircraft.[6]

Jan Mark was popular in Flanders, Belgium, where she participated in an educational project to stimulate teachers of English into using teenage fiction in the classroom. Her Flemish friends devoted a website to her and to her work. [1]

Jan Mark died suddenly at her home in Oxford from meningitis-related septicaemia in January 2006, aged 62.

Selected works[edit]

  • King John and the Abbot (2006) ISBN 978-1-84299-385-9
  • Voyager (2006) the sequel to Riding Tycho ISBN 978-0-333-99774-1
  • Turbulence (2005) ISBN 0-340-86099-5
  • Riding Tycho (2005) ISBN 0-340-91320-7
  • Useful Idiots (2004) ISBN 0-385-75023-4
  • The Eclipse of the Century (1999) ISBN 0-439-01482-4
  • Mr Dickens Hits Town (1999) ISBN 0-88776-468-1
  • The Midas Touch (1999) ISBN 0-7636-0488-7
  • My Frog and I (1997) ISBN 1-903285-97-6
  • The Tale of Tobias (1996) ISBN 1-56402-692-2
  • They Do Things Differently There (1994) ISBN 0-09-941397-3
  • Fun With Mrs Thumb (1993) ISBN 1-56402-247-1
  • Enough Is Too Much Already (1988) ISBN 0-370-31094-2
  • Zeno Was Here (1988) ISBN 0-374-29664-2
  • Fun (1988) ISBN 0-670-82457-7
  • Trouble Half-way (1986) ISBN 0-689-31210-5
  • Fur (1986) ISBN 0-7445-0478-3
  • Handles (1985) ISBN 0-689-31140-0
  • Feet and Other Stories (1983) ISBN 0-7226-5839-7
  • Aquarius (1982) ISBN 0-689-31051-X
  • The Dead Letter Box (1982) ISBN 0-241-10804-7
  • Nothing To Be Afraid Of (1981) ISBN 0-06-024087-3
  • Hairs in the Palm of the Hand (1981) ISBN 0-7226-5728-5
  • Divide and Rule (1980) ISBN 0-690-04012-1
  • The Ennead (1978) ISBN 0-690-03872-0
  • Under the Autumn Garden (1977) ISBN 0-7226-5347-6
  • Thunder and Lightnings (1976) ISBN 0-690-03901-8


  1. ^ Since 1995 there are usually eight books on the Carnegie shortlist. CCSU lists 32 "Highly Commended" runners up for the Carnegie Medal from 1966 to 2002 but only three before 1979 when the distinction became approximately annual. From 1979 there were 29 "HC" books in 24 years including Mark alone in 1980.
    • No one has won three Carnegies. Among the seven authors with two Medals, six were active during 1966–2002 and all wrote at least one Highly Commended runner up, led by Anne Fine with three and Robert Westall with two.


  1. ^ (Carnegie Winner 1976) Archived 29 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-07-12.
  2. ^ (Carnegie Winner 1983). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-07-12.
  3. ^ "Carnegie Medal Award". 2007(?). Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 2012-07-12.
  4. ^ Fickling, David; Pullman, Philip; Appleton, Jon (24 January 2006). "Obituary: Jan Mark". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 April 2019.
  5. ^ Eccleshare, Julia (ed.) '1001 Children's Books', Cassell: 2009, ISBN 978-1-84403-671-4 p.857
  6. ^ Thunder & Lightnings
  • [2] Obituary in The Guardian
  • [3] Obituary in The Times
  • [4] Obituary by Nicholas Tucker in The Independent

External links[edit]