Pamela Allen

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Pamela Allen
BornPamela Kay Griffiths
(1934-04-03) 3 April 1934 (age 85)
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 married sculptor Jim Allen in 1964.[4] They moved to Sydney in about 1977,[5] and after about 30 years returned to live in Auckland, New Zealand.[6][7][8]

Writing career[edit]

Allen published her first book, Mr Archimedes' Bath, in 1980. Since then she has written and illustrated more than 30 picture books for children.[9]

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? and 1984 for Bertie and the Bear, and has been shortlisted for the same award on five other occasions.[9] She twice won the Ethel Turner Prize in the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, in 1980 for Mr Archimedes' Bath and 1983 for Who Sank the Boat?.[10]

Allen was awarded the International Board on Books for Young People honour diploma for illustration, for Who Sank the Boat?, in 1984.[11]

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.[12]

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.[9][13]

Allen returned to live in Auckland and in 2004 she won the Margaret Mahy Medal, New Zealand's top children's literature prize.[9][14] In the 2005 New Year Honours, she was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to children's literature.[15]

Eight of her books have been adapted for the stage by Patch Theatre Company and performed at the Sydney Opera House.[16]

Allen's daughter, Ruth Allen, a Melbourne-based glass sculptor,[5][16] was commissioned by Penguin Australia in 2008 to create an artwork to celebrate sales of over five million copies of Allen's books.[17]

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