Kate Saunders

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Kate Saunders
BornKatharine Mary Saunders
(1960-05-04)4 May 1960
London, England
Died21 April 2023(2023-04-21) (aged 62)
London, England
  • Writer
  • actress
Years active1975–2023
Notable worksFive Children on the Western Front
Philip Wells
(m. 1985, divorced)

Katharine Mary Saunders (4 May 1960 – 21 April 2023) was an English writer, actress and journalist. She won the Betty Trask Award and the Costa Children's Book Award and was twice shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal.

Early life and education[edit]

Katharine Mary Saunders was born on 4 May 1960 to an Anglo Catholic family in London, the eldest of six children.[1] Her father was public relations advocate Basil Saunders, and her mother was journalist Betty (née Smith) Saunders.[2][3] She was educated at the Camden School for Girls.[1]



Saunders worked as an actress through her twenties.[1] Her work included an appearance as a policewoman dated by Rodney Trotter in an Only Fools and Horses episode in 1982.[4] She was also a regular contributor to radio and television, with appearances on the Radio 4 programmes Woman's Hour, Start the Week and Kaleidoscope.[5] She was, with Sandi Toksvig, a guest on the first episode of the long-running news quiz programme Have I Got News for You.[6] The BBC children's series Belfry Witches was based on her series of children's books about two mischief-making witches.


Saunders wrote for newspapers and magazines in the UK, including The Sunday Times, Sunday Express, Daily Telegraph, She and Cosmopolitan.[7] She wrote many novels, such as Wild Young Bohemians, and also co-wrote Catholics and Sex (1992) with Peter Stanford,[8] who was then editor of the Catholic Herald.[9][10] Saunders and Stanford later presented a television series based on the book on Channel 4.[11]

Saunders won the annual Costa Children's Book Award for Five Children on the Western Front (2014), a contribution to the classic fantasy series that E. Nesbit inaugurated in 1902 with Five Children and It.[12][13] She was also a contributor to the authorised Winnie-the-Pooh sequel, The Best Bear in All the World. Her children's novel The Land of Neverendings has been shortlisted for the 2019 Carnegie Medal,[14] as was Five Children on the Western Front in 2016.

Personal life and death[edit]

Saunders married Philip Wells in 1985; they had a son and later divorced. Their son died by suicide when he was 19 years old.[1]

Saunders had multiple sclerosis. Her health declined in the years after her son's death, but she continued to write until the end of her life. She died from cancer at her home in Archway, London, on 21 April 2023, at the age of 62.[1][15]

Selected books[edit]


  • The Prodigal Father (1986) - Won The Betty Trask Award in 1986
  • Storm in the Citadel (1989)
  • Night Shall Overtake Us (1993)
  • Wild Young Bohemians (1995)
  • Lily-Josephine (1998)
  • The Marrying Game (2002)
  • Bachelor Boys (2004)
  • Crooked Castle (2013)
  • Mariana (2013)

The Laetitia Rodd Mysteries[edit]

  • The Secrets of Wishtide (2016)
  • The Case of the Wandering Scholar (2019)
  • The Mystery of the Sorrowful Maiden (2021)

Children's books[edit]

  • A Spell of Witches (1999)
  • The Belfry Witches (omnibus) (2003)
  • Cat and the Stinkwater War (2003)
  • The Little Secret (2006)
  • Beswitched (2010)
  • Magicalamity (2011)
  • The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop (2012)
  • The Curse of The Chocolate Phoenix (2013)
  • Five Children on the Western Front (2014)
  • The Land of Neverendings (2017)



Year Title Role Notes
1979 Birth of the Beatles Girl Fan


Year Title Role Notes
1975 You Must Be Joking! Unknown 2 episodes
1976 A Place to Hide Receptionist Episode: "The Contact"
1978 Angels Brenda Cotteral 12 episodes
1979 Playhouse Jenny Episode: "The Daughters of Albion"
1979 A Family Affair Donna 3 episodes
1982 Only Fools and Horses Sandra Episode: "The Long Legs of the Law"
1984 Just Good Friends Caroline Episode: "Special"


  1. ^ a b c d e Craig, Amanda (24 April 2023). "Kate Saunders obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  2. ^ Brown, Andrew (9 April 1997). "Obituary: Betty Saunders", The Independent.
  3. ^ Traverse-Healy, Tim (19 June 1998). "Obituary: Basil Saunders". The Independent.
  4. ^ Aled Jones with Good Morning Sunday. BBC. 6 December 2009.
  5. ^ author profile at Random House
  6. ^ HIGNFY – episode 1/1 at Comedy.Co.UK
  7. ^ Author Spotlight at Random House.
  8. ^ Stanford, Peter (1999). Cardinal Hume and the Changing Face of English Catholicism. A&C Black. 1999. Bibliographic data.
  9. ^ Hebblethwaite, Peter (26 February 1993). "Lorenzo's sister edits Catholic paper". National Jewish Reporter. Archived from the original on 9 August 2013.
  10. ^ Saunders, Kate; Stanford, Peter (1992). Catholics and Sex: From Purity to Perdition. London: William Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-67246-7.
  11. ^ "Stanford, Peter". AP Watt. Archived from the original on 23 September 2006. Retrieved 27 November 2006.
  12. ^ Vincent, Alice (5 January 2015). "Wartime adaptation of Five Children and It wins in Costa Book Award categories". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-01-20.
  13. ^ Five Children Universe – Series Bibliography. ISFDB. Retrieved 2015-01-20.
  14. ^ "2019 Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medals shortlists announced". Books+Publishing. 20 March 2019. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  15. ^ "Kate Saunders obituary". The Times. 25 April 2023. Retrieved 25 April 2023.

External links[edit]