Pamela Allen

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Pamela Allen

BornPamela Kay Griffiths
(1934-04-03) 3 April 1934 (age 88)
Devonport, New Zealand
OccupationWriter and illustrator
GenreChildren's picture books

Pamela Kay Allen MNZM (née Griffiths; born 3 April 1934) is a New Zealand children's writer and illustrator. She has published over 50 picture books since 1980. Sales of her books have exceeded five million copies.

Early life and family[edit]

Born in the Auckland suburb of Devonport in 1934 to Esma Eileen (née Griffith) and William Ewart Griffiths,[1][2] Allen studied at St Cuthbert's College,[3] then the Elam School of Fine Arts at Auckland University College, from where she graduated with a Diploma of Fine Arts in 1955.[4] She then worked as a secondary school art teacher.[5] She married sculptor Jim Allen in 1964.[6] They moved to Sydney in about 1977,[7] and after about 30 years returned to live in Auckland, New Zealand.[8][9][10]

Writing career[edit]

Allen published her first book, Mr Archimedes' Bath, in 1980.[5] Since then she has written and illustrated more than 30 picture books for children.[11]

She has won or been shortlisted for many awards as both a writer and illustrator. She won the Children's Book Council of Australia's Children's Picture Book of The Year Award in 1983 for Who Sank the Boat?[5] and 1984 for Bertie and the Bear,[5] and has been shortlisted for the same award on five other occasions.[11] She twice won the Ethel Turner Prize in the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, in 1980 for Mr Archimedes' Bath[5] and 1983 for Who Sank the Boat?.[12]

Allen was awarded the International Board on Books for Young People honour diploma for illustration, for Who Sank the Boat?, in 1984.[13]

In 1986 she received the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa Russell Clark Illustration Award for her illustrations in A Lion in the Night.[14]

In 2001, Who Sank The Boat?, first published in 1982, won the Gaelyn Gordon Award—given to the author of a New Zealand children's book that has been a favourite with children over a long period of time—from the New Zealand Book Council.[11][15]

Allen returned to live in Auckland and in 2004 she won the Margaret Mahy Medal, New Zealand's top children's literature prize.[11][16] In the 2005 New Year Honours, she was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to children's literature.[17]

Eight of her books have been adapted for the stage by Patch Theatre Company and performed at the Sydney Opera House.[18]

Allen's daughter, Ruth Allen, a Melbourne-based glass sculptor,[7][18] was commissioned by Penguin Australia in 2008 to create an artwork to celebrate sales of over five million copies of Allen's books.[19]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Morley, Sarah (Spring 2020). "Mr Archimedes MOVES IN" (PDF). SL magazine. State Library of New South Wales. 13 (3): 48–51.


  1. ^ "Births". The New Zealand Herald. 5 April 1934. p. 1. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  2. ^ "Interview with Pamela Allen". Christchurch City Libraries. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  3. ^ "Old Girls' Honours". 2004.
  4. ^ "NZ university graduates 1870–1961". Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e Scobie, Susan, ed. (1997). The Dromkeen Book of Australian Children's Illustrators. Scholastic Australia. pp. 14–16. ISBN 1863886958.
  6. ^ "Pamela Allen". Penguin Random House. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  7. ^ a b Wilder, Gabriel (11 August 2012). "Message in a bottle". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Pamela Allen on writing for children". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 4 November 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Interview with Pamela Allen". Christchurch City Libraries. 2002. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  10. ^ "Allen Pamela". New Zealand Book Council. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  11. ^ a b c d "Allen, Pamela". New Zealand Book Council. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  12. ^ "Pamela Allen". Storylines Children's Literature Charitable Trust. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  13. ^ "About Pamela Allen". QBD The Bookshop. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  14. ^ "LIANZA Russell Clark Illustration Award Recipients". LIANZA. Archived from the original on 1 April 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  15. ^ "Awards and grants". New Zealand Book Council. Archived from the original on 19 September 2014. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  16. ^ "Allen wins Margaret Mahy children's literature award". The New Zealand Herald. 22 January 2004. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  17. ^ "New Year honours list 2005". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2004. Retrieved 6 March 2022.
  18. ^ a b Thomas-Zucker, Julie (19 February 2012). "Biography Pamela Allen". Humanities 360. Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  19. ^ "The Boat". Ruth Allen Glass Sculptor. Archived from the original on 18 October 2014. Retrieved 17 August 2014.

External links[edit]