Kevin Crossley-Holland

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Kevin Crossley-Holland
Crossley-Holland at Vienna International School in 2012
Crossley-Holland at Vienna International School in 2012
Born (1941-02-07) 7 February 1941 (age 80)
Mursley, Buckinghamshire, England
OccupationTranslator, Poet, Author
Alma materSt Edmund Hall, Oxford
Notable worksArthur Trilogy

Kevin John William Crossley-Holland (born 7 February 1941) is an English translator, children's author and poet. His best known work is probably the Arthur trilogy (2000–2003),[1] for which he won the Guardian Prize[2] and other recognition.

Crossley-Holland won the annual Carnegie Medal for his 1985 novella Storm.[3] For the 70th anniversary of the Medal in 2007 it was named one of the top ten winning works.[4]

Life and career[edit]

Kevin Crossley-Holland was born in Mursley, north Buckinghamshire. He grew up in Whiteleaf, a village in the Chilterns. His father was Peter Crossley-Holland, a composer and ethnomusicologist; his mother was the potter and gallerist Joan Crossley-Holland (née Cowper).[5] An only child,[6] He attended Bryanston School in Dorset, followed by St Edmund Hall, Oxford, where after failing his first exams he discovered a passion for Anglo-Saxon literature. After graduating he became the Gregory Fellow in Poetry at the University of Leeds and from 1972 to 1977 he lectured in Anglo-Saxon for the Tufts University London programme. He taught in the midwestern United States as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at St. Olaf College, and held an Endowed Chair in Humanities and Fine Arts at the University of St Thomas, Minnesota.

Crossley-Holland's writing career began when he became a poetry, fiction, and children's book editor for Macmillan. He was later editorial director for Victor Gollancz. He is known for poetry, novels, story collections, and translations, including three editions of the Anglo-Saxon classic Beowulf in 1968[7] 1973,[8] and 1999.[9]

Grendel reaches Heorot: Beowulf 710–714
Old English verse Crossley-Holland, 1968

Ðá cóm of móre | under misthleoþum
Grendel gongan· | godes yrre bær·
mynte se mánscaða | manna cynnes
sumne besyrwan | in sele þám héan·

 Then, under night's shroud,
 Grendel walked down from the moors. He shouldered God's anger.
 The evil plunderer intended to ensnare
 one of the race of men in the high hall.

Some of his books, including the Arthur trilogy, reinterpret medieval legends. He writes collections of Norse myths (The Penguin Book of Norse Myths) and British and Irish folk tales (The Magic Lands: Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland). Bracelet of Bones, a Viking "saga", was published in 2011, as was The Mountains of Norfolk: New and Selected Poems. He has edited and translated the riddles included in the Anglo-Saxon Exeter Book.[10]

Crossley-Holland has written the libretti for two operas by Nicola LeFanu, The Green Children (1966) and The Wildman (1976), and for a chamber opera about Nelson, Haydn, and Emma Hamilton. He has collaborated several times with the composers Arthur Bliss and William Mathias and has written a stage play, The Wuffings (1999).

Crossley-Holland lives on the North Norfolk coast, where he spent some of his childhood. His autobiography, The Hidden Roads: A Memoir of Childhood, was published in 2009.[11] In 2012 he took up the honorary post of President of the School Library Association.[12]

Arthur trilogy[edit]

The Arthur trilogy comprises The Seeing Stone (2000), At the Crossing-Places (2001), and King of the Middle March (2003), published by Orion Children's Books in hardcover editions summing almost 1,100 pages.[1] These have been published in 25 different languages and must be the author's best-known works.[citation needed]

Crossley-Holland takes a new look at the King Arthur legends, showing a medieval boy's development from a page to a squire and finally to a knight. Alongside this advance, the medieval Arthur faces issues such as his prospective betrothal and inheritance. Meanwhile, he has the "Seeing Stone" through which he observes the remarkably parallel early life of King Arthur, several hundred years before.

A follow-up to the trilogy was published in 2006, Gatty's Tale.[1][13]


Crossley-Holland was awarded the 1985 Carnegie Medal and 2007 "Anniversary Top Ten" recognition from British librarians for Storm (Heinemann, 1984).[3][4]

For Arthur: The Seeing Stone he won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, a once-in-a-lifetime award judged by a panel of British children's writers and the Tir na n-Og Award from the Welsh Books Council. The two annual awards for young people's books recognise one fiction published in the U.K., written by an author who has not yet won it, and the best English-language book with "authentic Welsh background".[2][14][15] The Seeing Stone was bronze runner-up for the Smarties Prize in age category 9–11 years and it made the 2000 Whitbread Awards shortlist.

Gatty's Tale was one of seven books on the 2008 Carnegie shortlist.[16][17]


  1. ^ a b c Kevin Crossley-Holland at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 2012-08-07. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
  2. ^ a b Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2001 Archived 16 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine (top page). 2012-08-07.
  3. ^ a b (Carnegie Winner 1985) Archived 10 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-07-10.
  4. ^ a b "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 2012-07-10.
  5. ^ Vaizey, Marina (2013). "Holland, Joan Mary Crossley- [née Joan Mary Cowper]". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/94858. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  6. ^ Findlay, Geoffrey (24 January 2005). "Obituary: Joan Crossley-Holland". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 13 July 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  7. ^ With illustrations by Brigitte Hanff; introduction by Bruce Mitchell. London: Macmillan, 1968
  8. ^ Illustrations by Virgil Burnett; introduction by Bruce Mitchell. London: Folio Society, 1973. ISBN 0-85067-066-7
  9. ^ Edited by Heather O'Donoghue. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 978-0-19-283320-4
  10. ^ Crossley-Holland, Kevin (2008). The Exeter Book Riddles. London: Enitharmon Press. ISBN 978-1-904634-46-1.
  11. ^ Crossley-Holland, Kevin (2009). The Hidden Roads: A Memoir of Childhood. London: Quercus. ISBN 978-1-84724-736-0.
  12. ^ Enitharmon Press: Kevin Crossley-Holland to become SLA President in 2012 Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Gatty's Tale in libraries (WorldCat catalog). Retrieved 2012-08-07.
  14. ^ "Guardian children's fiction prize relaunched: Entry details and list of past winners" Archived 1 December 2016 at the Wayback Machine. The Guardian 12 March 2001. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
  15. ^ "Tir na n-Og awards Past Winners" Archived 10 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. WBC. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
  16. ^ "2008 Awards: Carnegie Authors" Archived 27 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine. CILIP.
  17. ^ "Releases for 2008 Awards" Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Press Desk. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-08-07.

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