Pamela Allen

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Pamela Allen
BornPamela Kay Griffiths
(1934-04-03) 3 April 1934 (age 86)
Devonport, New Zealand
OccupationWriter and illustrator
NationalityNew Zealander
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 the Elam School of Fine Arts at Auckland University College, from where she graduated with a Diploma of Fine Arts in 1955.[3] She then worked as a secondary school art teacher.[4] She married sculptor Jim Allen in 1964.[5] They moved to Sydney in about 1977,[6] and after about 30 years returned to live in Auckland, New Zealand.[7][8][9]

Writing career[edit]

Allen published her first book, Mr Archimedes' Bath, in 1980.[4] Since then she has written and illustrated more than 30 picture books for children.[10]

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?[4] and 1984 for Bertie and the Bear,[4] and has been shortlisted for the same award on five other occasions.[10] She twice won the Ethel Turner Prize in the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, in 1980 for Mr Archimedes' Bath[4] and 1983 for Who Sank the Boat?.[11]

Allen was awarded the International Board on Books for Young People honour diploma for illustration, for Who Sank the Boat?, in 1984.[12]

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.[13]

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.[10][14]

Allen returned to live in Auckland and in 2004 she won the Margaret Mahy Medal, New Zealand's top children's literature prize.[10][15] In the 2005 New Year Honours, she was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to children's literature.[16]

Eight of her books have been adapted for the stage by Patch Theatre Company and performed at the Sydney Opera House.[17]

Allen's daughter, Ruth Allen, a Melbourne-based glass sculptor,[6][17] was commissioned by Penguin Australia in 2008 to create an artwork to celebrate sales of over five million copies of Allen's books.[18]

See also[edit]


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