Malorie Blackman

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Malorie Blackman

Born (1962-02-08) 8 February 1962 (age 61)
Merton, London, England
EducationThames Polytechnic;
National Film and Television School
GenreChildren's literature, science fiction, mystery, thriller and horror; poetry
Notable worksThe Noughts and Crosses series
Notable awardsEleanor Farjeon Award, 2005
PEN Pinter Prize, 2022

Malorie Blackman OBE (born 8 February 1962)[1] is a British writer who held the position of Children's Laureate from 2013 to 2015.[2] She primarily writes literature and television drama for children and young adults. She has used science fiction to explore social and ethical issues. Her critically and popularly acclaimed Noughts and Crosses series uses the setting of a fictional alternative Britain to explore racism. Blackman has been the recipient of many honours for her work including, most recently, the 2022 PEN Pinter Prize.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

Malorie Blackman was born in Merton, London, and grew up in Lewisham, one of five siblings. Her parents were both from Barbados and had come to Britain as part of the "Windrush generation"; her father Joe was a bus driver and her mother Ruby worked in a pyjama factory.[5] Blackman's father walked out on the family whilst she was younger, leaving her mother to single-handedly raise her and her siblings. At school, Malorie wanted to be an English teacher, but she grew up to become a systems programmer instead.[6][7] She earned an HNC at Thames Polytechnic and is a graduate of the National Film and Television School.[6][8]


Blackman's first book was Not So Stupid!, a collection of horror and science fiction stories for young adults, published in November 1990.[9][10] Since then, she has written more than 60 children's books, including novels and short story collections, and also television scripts and a stage play.[11]

Her work has won more than 15 awards.[11][12] Blackman's television scripts include episodes of the long-running children's drama Byker Grove as well as television adaptations of her novels Whizziwig and Pig-Heart Boy.[11] She became the first person of colour writer to work on Doctor Who ever (something almost accomplished by Robin Mukherjee 29 years earlier, during the run of the original series with the unmade Alixion).[13] Her books have been translated into over 15 languages including Spanish, Welsh, German, Japanese, Chinese and French.

Blackman's award-winning Noughts & Crosses series, exploring love, racism and violence, is set in a fictional alternative Britain. Explaining her choice of title, in a 2007 interview for the BBC's Blast website, Blackman said that noughts and crosses is "one of those games that nobody ever plays after childhood, because nobody ever wins".[14] In an interview for The Times, Blackman said that before writing Noughts & Crosses, her protagonists' ethnicities had never been central to the plots of her books.[7] She has also said: "I wanted to show black children just getting on with their lives, having adventures, and solving their dilemmas, like the characters in all the books I read as a child."[6]

Blackman eventually decided to address racism directly.[7][14] She reused some details from her own experience, including an occasion when she needed a plaster and found they were designed to be inconspicuous only on white people's skin.[7] The Times interviewer Amanda Craig speculated about the delay for the Noughts & Crosses series to be published in the United States: "though there was considerable interest, 9/11 killed off the possibility of publishing any book describing what might drive someone to become a terrorist".[7] Noughts and Crosses is now available in the US published under the title Black & White (Simon & Schuster Publishers, 2005).

Noughts & Crosses was No. 61 on the Big Read list, a 2003 BBC survey to find "The Nation's Best-Loved Book", with more votes than A Tale of Two Cities, several Terry Pratchett novels and Lord of the Flies.

She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours.[15]

In June 2013, Blackman was announced as the new Children's Laureate, succeeding Julia Donaldson.[16][17]

In 2022, Blackman was chosen as winner of the PEN Pinter Prize, becoming the first author of children's and Young Adult books to receive the accolade.[18] In her acceptance address at the British Library in October 2022, she named Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace as the International Writer of Courage with whom she would share the prize.[19]

In November 2023, the exhibition Malorie Blackman: The Power of Stories opened at the British Library.[20][21]

Personal life[edit]

Malorie Blackman lives with her husband Neil and daughter Elizabeth in Kent, England. In her free time, she likes to play her piano, compose, play computer games and write poetry.[22] She is the subject of a biography for children by Verna Wilkins.[23]

In March 2014, Blackman joined other prominent authors in supporting the Let Books Be Books campaign, which seeks to stop children's books being labelled as "for girls" or "for boys".[24]

In August 2014, Malorie Blackman was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[25]

Blackman is a contributor to the 2019 anthology New Daughters of Africa (edited by Margaret Busby) with a letter written to her daughter.[26]

In 2019, Stormzy namechecked Blackman in his "Superheroes" song,[27] and in 2022 she appeared in the "Mel Made Me Do It" promo video.[28]

Blackman's memoir Just Sayin': My Life In Words, published in 2022, was summed up by Patrice Lawrence as "a book about survival and success".[29]


Published books[edit]

Novels for young adults and children[edit]

  • Not So Stupid!: Incredible Short Stories, The Women's Press, 1990, ISBN 0-7043-4924-8
  • Trust Me, Livewire, 1992, ISBN 0-7043-4931-0. Corgi Children's, 2013, ISBN 0-552-56847-3
  • Words Last Forever, Mammoth, 1998, ISBN 0-7497-2983-X
  • The Noughts & Crosses series, in reading order:
    • Noughts & Crosses,[30] Doubleday, 2001, ISBN 0-385-60008-9
    • Callum (novella), RHCP Digital 2012,
    • An Eye for an Eye, (novella),[31] Corgi Children's, 2003, ISBN 0-552-54925-8
    • Knife Edge, Doubleday, 2004, ISBN 0-385-60527-7
    • Checkmate, Doubleday, 2005, ISBN 0-385-60773-3
    • Double Cross, Doubleday, 6 November 2008
    • Nought Forever (novella), Penguin, 2019
    • Crossfire, Penguin, 8 August 2019
    • Endgame, Penguin, 16 September 2021
  • The Stuff of Nightmares, Doubleday, 2007, ISBN 0-385-61043-2
  • Boys Don't Cry, Doubleday Children's, 2010. Corgi Children's, 2011, ISBN 0-552-54862-6
  • Unheard Voices: An Anthology of Stories and Poems to Commemorate the Bicentenary Anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade, ed. Malorie Blackman, Corgi Children's, 2007, ISBN 0-552-55600-9
  • Noble Conflict, Doubleday Children's, 2013, ISBN 0-385-61042-4

"Chasing the stars" ISBN 0-385-61042-4

Short stories for young adults[edit]

  • "Humming Through My Fingers" in the multi-author collection Shining On: A Collection of Stories in Aid of the Teen Cancer Trust, Picadilly Press, 2006, ISBN 1-85340-893-X
  • Short story in the multi-author collection The Crew and Other Teen Fiction, Heinemann Library, ISBN 0-431-01875-8

Novels for children[edit]

Short stories for children[edit]

  • "Contact" in the multi-author collection Out of This World: Stories of Virtual Reality (chosen by Wendy Cooling), Dolphin, 1997, ISBN 1-85881-602-5
  • Aesop's Fables (retold by Malorie Blackman, illustrated by Patrice Aggs), Scholastic, 1998, ISBN 0-590-54382-2
  • "Dare to be Different" (illustrated by Jane Ray) in the multi-author collection Dare to be Different, Bloomsbury Publishing, 1999, ISBN 0-7475-4021-7
  • "Peacemaker" in the multi-author collection Peacemaker and Other Stories (illustrated by Peter Richardson and David Hine), Heinemann Educational, 1999, ISBN 0-435-11600-2

Books for new readers[edit]

  • The Betsey Biggalow stories:
    • Betsey Biggalow the Detective (illustrated by Lis Toft), Piccadilly Press, 1992, ISBN 1-85340-163-3
    • Betsey Biggalow is Here! (illustrated by Lis Toft), Piccadilly Press, 1992, ISBN 1-85340-172-2
    • Hurricane Betsey (illustrated by Lis Toft), Piccadilly Press, 1993, ISBN 1-85340-199-4
    • Magic Betsey (illustrated by Lis Toft), Piccadilly Press, 1994, ISBN 1-85340-237-0
    • Betsey's Birthday Surprise (illustrated by Lis Toft), Piccadilly Press, 1996, ISBN 0-590-55864-1
  • The Girl Wonder series:
    • Girl Wonder and the Terrific Twins (illustrated by Pat Ludlow), Orion Children's Books, 1991, ISBN 0-575-05048-9
    • Girl Wonder's Winter Adventures (illustrated by Lis Toft), Orion Children's Books, 1992, ISBN 0-575-05383-6
    • Girl Wonder to the Rescue (illustrated by Lis Toft), Gollancz, 1994, ISBN 0-575-05774-2
    • The Amazing Adventures of Girl Wonder (illustrated by Lis Toft), Barn Owl Books, 2003, ISBN 1-903015-27-8
  • The Puzzle Planet adventures:
    • Peril on Planet Pellia (illustrated by Patrice Aggs), Orchard Books, 1996, ISBN 1-85213-935-8
    • The Mellion Moon Mystery (illustrated by Patrice Aggs), Orchard Books, 1996, ISBN 1-85213-936-6
    • The Secret of the Terrible Hand (illustrated by Patrice Aggs), Orchard Books, 1996, ISBN 1-86039-370-5
    • Quasar Quartz Quest (illustrated by Patrice Aggs) Orchard Books, 1996, ISBN 1-85213-938-2
  • The Longman Book Project (with translations to Welsh):
    • Rachel versus Bonecrusher the Mighty, Longman, 1994, ISBN 0-582-12151-5
    • Rachel and the Difference Thief (illustrated by Kim Harley), Longman, 1994, ISBN 0-582-12152-3
    • Crazy Crocs (with Alexander McCall Smith and Sally-Ann Lever), Longman, 1994, ISBN 0-582-12208-2
  • Elaine You're a Brat![36] (illustrated by Doffy Weir), Orchard Books, 1991, ISBN 1-85213-365-1
  • My Friend's a Gris-Quok (illustrated by Philip Hopman), Scholastic, 1994, ISBN 0-590-55864-1
  • Grandma Gertie's Haunted Handbag (illustrated by David Price), Heinemann, 1996, ISBN 0-434-97225-8
  • Space Race (illustrated by Colin Mier), Corgi Children's, 1997, ISBN 0-552-54542-2
  • Fangs (illustrated by Tony Blundell), Orchard Books, 1998, ISBN 1-86039-734-4
  • Snow Dog (illustrated by Sabrina Good), Corgi Children's, 2001, ISBN 0-552-54703-4
  • The Monster Crisp-Guzzler (illustrated by Sami Sweeten), Corgi Children's, 2002, ISBN 0-552-54783-2
  • Sinclair, Wonder Bear (illustrated by Deborah Allwright), Egmont Books, 2003, ISBN 1-4052-0589-X

Picture books[edit]


Television scripts[edit]

Year Title Notes Broadcaster
1996 Operation Gadgetman! TV movie, directed by Jim Goddard and starring Marina Sirtis. Hallmark Entertainment
1998 Whizziwig Episodes CITV
1999 Pig Heart Boy 6 Episodes CBBC
2004 Byker Grove Episodes: #16.20 & #16.19 CBBC
2007 Jackanory Junior Ellie and the Cat CBeebies
2018 Doctor Who Episode: Rosa, co-written with Chris Chibnall BBC One

Stage plays[edit]

  • The Amazing Rob The Mechanic
  • Noughts and Crosses

Radio scripts[edit]

  • Noughts and Crosses

Awards and nominations[edit]

Body of work[edit]


For Hacker (1995)[edit]

For A.N.T.I.D.O.T.E (1997)[edit]

  • 1997, Stockport Children's Book of the Year Award (Key Stage 3 category).[11]
  • 1997, Stockton-on-Tees Children's Book Award (shortlisted).[12]
  • 1998, Sheffield Children's Book Award (highly commended).[12]
  • 2001, Stockport Schools Book Award (shortlisted).[12]

For Pig-Heart Boy (1997)[edit]

For Tell Me No Lies (1999)[edit]

  • 1999, Stockport Children's Book Award (shortlisted) (Key Stage 4 category).[11][12]

For Dead Gorgeous (2002)[edit]

  • 2003, Calderdale Book of the Year (shortlist).[12]
  • 2003, Salford Children's Book Award (shortlist).[12]

For books in the Noughts & Crosses series[edit]

For Cloud Busting (2004)[edit]

  • 2004, Nestlé Smarties Book Prize (Silver Award) (6–8 years category).[11]
  • 2005, Redbridge Children's Book Award (shortlist).[12]
  • 2005, Stockport Schools Book Award (shortlisted).[12]
  • 2006, Nottingham Children's Book Award (shortlist) (10–11 years category).[12]
  • 2006, West Sussex Children's Book Award (shortlist).[12]

For Crossfire (2019)[edit]

  • 2019, Costa Children's Book Award (Shortlist).[40]

Television adaptations[edit]

For Pig-Heart Boy[edit]

For the Doctor Who episode "Rosa"[edit]


  1. ^ Blackman, Malorie (9 October 2022). "Malorie Blackman: 'My dad left, then the bailiffs came...'". The Sunday Times.
  2. ^ "Malorie Blackman". Children's Laureate ( Booktrust. Retrieved 28 September 2013.
  3. ^ "Malorie Blackman awarded PEN Pinter Prize 2022". English PEN. 21 June 2022. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  4. ^ Anderson, Porter (21 June 2022). "Malorie Blackman Wins England's 2022 PEN Pinter Prize". Publishing Perspctives. Retrieved 28 June 2022.
  5. ^ Cain, Sian (11 September 2021). "Interview | Malorie Blackman: 'Hope is the spark'". The Guardian.
  6. ^ a b c Blackman, Malorie (1995–2007). "Malorie Blackman". Penguin UK Authors. Penguin Books PLC. Archived from the original on 19 April 2007. Retrieved 23 March 2007.
  7. ^ a b c d e Craig, Amanda (January 2004). "Malorie Blackman: the world in photographic negative". The Times. Times Newspapers Limited. Archived from the original on 2 December 2006. Retrieved 27 March 2007.
  8. ^ "Malorie Blackman". 40 artists, 40 days. Tate Online. 2006. Retrieved 28 March 2007.
  9. ^ Blackman, Malorie (19 August 2009). "Malorie Blackman's top 10 graphic novels for teenagers". The Guardian.
  10. ^ Coats, Lucy (21 October 2018). "INTERVIEW: Malorie Blackman". Publishing Talk. Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "Malorie Blackman". Contemporary Writers. British Council. 2007. Archived from the original on 11 April 2007. Retrieved 23 March 2007.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y "Awards and Prizes". Kids at Random House. Random House Children's Books. Retrieved 23 March 2007.
  13. ^ James T (19 June 2011). "Doctor Who episodes and spin-offs that never happened". Den of Geek.
  14. ^ a b "Malorie Blackman – Children and Young People's Writer". Blast. BBC. Archived from the original on 9 October 2008. Retrieved 23 March 2007.
  15. ^ "No. 58729". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 June 2008. p. 9.
  16. ^ Chilton, Martin (4 June 2013). "Malorie Blackman is new Children's Laureate". The Telegraph.
  17. ^ Pauli, Michelle (4 June 2013). "Malorie Blackman is the new children's laureate". The Guardian. Children's Books.
  18. ^ Brown, Lauren (21 June 2022). "Blackman awarded PEN Pinter Prize in first for a children's and YA writer". The Bookseller. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  19. ^ Campbell, Joel (11 October 2022). "Malorie Blackman shares PEN Pinter Prize 2022 with Dr Abduljalil Al-Singace". The Voice. Retrieved 14 October 2022.
  20. ^ "Malorie Blackman: The Power of Stories Opens at the British Library". 24 November 2023.
  21. ^ Creamer, Ella (24 November 2023). "Malorie Blackman's career honoured in British Library exhibition". The Guardian.
  22. ^ Preface to Tell Me No Lies.
  23. ^ Verna Wilkins, Malorie Blackman, Black Star Series #2, Tamarind/Random House, 2008, ISBN 9781848530010. Retrieved 16 July 2022.
  24. ^ Masters, Tim (17 March 2014). "Campaign over gender-specific books gains support". BBC News. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  25. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories". The Guardian. 7 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  26. ^ Buchan, Carole (29 April 2019). "Anthology of writing by women of African descent features more than 200 contributors". Sussex World. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  27. ^ Flood, Alison (16 December 2019). "'Real ones know!' Stormzy namechecks Malorie Blackman and Jacqueline Wilson". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 November 2022.
  28. ^ Robinson, Ellie (22 September 2022). "Stormzy returns with epic new single 'Mel Made Me Do It', cameo-packed video". NME. Retrieved 1 November 2022.
  29. ^ Lawrence, Patrice (19 October 2023). "Review | Just Sayin' by Malorie Blackman review – against the odds". The Guardian.
  30. ^ Also published as Black & White, Simon Pulse, 2007, ISBN 1-4169-0017-9
  31. ^ Also published in Noughts & Crosses, Corgi Children's, 2006, ISBN 0-552-55570-3
  32. ^ Originally published 1997.
  33. ^ Also published as 4u2read.ok Hostage, Barrington Stoke, 2002, ISBN 1-84299-056-X, and as a "Close Look, Quick Look" photocopiable version for teachers, Barrington Stoke, 2004, ISBN 1-84299-236-8
  34. ^ Originally published separately as Whizziwig, 1995, and Whizzywhig Returns, 1999
  35. ^ "Malorie Blackman pens Seventh Doctor and Daleks story | Articles | Doctor Who". 2 July 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  36. ^ Also published as Ellie, and the Cat!, Orchard Books, 2005, ISBN 1-84362-391-9
  37. ^ Also published as A New Dress for Maya, Gary Stevens Publishing, 1992, ISBN 0-8368-0713-8
  38. ^ Flood, Alison (13 February 2014). "Ruth Ozeki beats Thomas Pynchon to top Kitschie award". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 February 2014.
  39. ^ Shaffi, Sarah (21 June 2022). "Malorie Blackman's 'dynamic imaginary worlds' win her the PEN Pinter prize". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 June 2022.
  40. ^ "Costa Book Awards | Behind the beans | Costa Coffee".
  41. ^ "2019 Hugo Award & 1944 Retro Hugo Award Finalists". The Hugo Awards. 2 April 2019. Retrieved 11 August 2019.

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by Children's Laureate of the United Kingdom
Succeeded by