Philip Reeve

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Philip Reeve
Philip Reeve at Lucca Comics & Games 2016
Philip Reeve at Lucca Comics & Games 2016
Born (1966-02-28) 28 February 1966 (age 53)
Brighton, Sussex, England
ResidenceDartmoor, Devon, England
GenreScience fiction
Notable worksMortal Engines Quartet Larklight Trilogy
Notable awardsGuardian Prize
Carnegie Medal

Philip Reeve (born 28 February 1966) is a British author and illustrator of children's books. He is primarily known for the 2001 book Mortal Engines and its sequels.


Born on 28 February 1966 in Brighton, Reeve studied illustration, first at Cambridgeshire College of Arts and Technology (CCAT – now Anglia Ruskin University), where he contributed a comic strip to the Student Union magazine, and later at Brighton Polytechnic (now the University of Brighton). Before becoming an illustrator he worked at a bookshop in Brighton for several years. During his student years and for a few years afterwards he wrote for and performed in comedy sketch shows with a variety of collaborators under various group names, among them The Charles Atlas Sisters. He lives on Dartmoor with his wife Sarah and their son Sam.

With Brian Mitchell, Reeve is the author of a 1998 dystopian comic musical,The Ministry of Biscuits. 'Stop! Think before you eat that biscuit! Is it in any way fancy? If so, then you are a criminal! In Post-War London, The Ministry of Biscuits casts its sinister shadow over every tea-time and elevenses in the land. Established to 'control biscuits, and to control the idea of biscuits,' it prohibits decadent sweetmeats, such as the Gypsy Cream.'[1]

The musical was performed at the Pavilion Theatre, Brighton, the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford,[1] and at the 1999 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It was revived in 2005 at the Sallis Benney, Brighton,[1] and was revived and it's still being played at Brighton's The Lantern Theatre [2] since November 2017.[3] The show is also featured on tour at various other locations [4] through-out the United Kingdom.

Reeve provided cartoons for many books including those in the Horrible Histories and the Murderous Maths series and wrote the Buster Bayliss series of books for young readers, which currently includes Night of the Living Veg, The Big Freeze, Day of the Hamster, and Custardfinger. He is also the author and illustrator of a Dead Famous book, Horatio Nelson and His Victory.

His first book for older readers was Mortal Engines which won the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize in ages category 9–11 years and made the Whitbread Book Award shortlist. Mortal Engines is the first book in a series sometimes called the Mortal Engines Quartet (2001 to 2006), which also includes Predator's Gold, Infernal Devices and A Darkling Plain.[5] The books feature two young adventurers, Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw, who live in a lawless post-apocalyptic world inhabited by moving cities. For the concluding volume, Reeve won the 2006 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, a once-in-a-lifetime book award judged by a panel of British children's writers.[6][7]

Reeve spent more than ten years on Mortal Engines. He started coming up with ideas for the book in 1989 or 1990 and it was published in 2001. He was working on it part-time, between illustration jobs. Knowing he could complete such a project, he then cut down on his illustration work and devoted more time to writing.[8]

The 2007 novel Here Lies Arthur is an alternative version of the Arthurian legend. Reeve and Arthur won the annual Carnegie Medal from the British librarians, recognising the year's best children's book published in the UK[9]

The Larklight trilogy (2006 to 2008)[5] is steampunk set in outer space. The first book Larklight was under development as a film by the Indian director Shekhar Kapur, but he is no longer attached. Reeve himself professes that, when planning out stories for his novels, "I see it as a film that I run in my head, and I just keep running alternative versions of it until I come up with a cut I like.[10] The future of the film is in the new hands of Swedish director Tomas Alfredson.[11]

Reeve inaugurated a series of Mortal Engines prequels with Fever Crumb (Scholastic UK, 2009).[5] The first one was one of eight finalists for the 2010 Carnegie Medal.[12]

In 2013, Reeve had his first co-authored highly illustrated book with British-American writer-illustrator Sarah McIntyre published by Oxford University Press, Oliver and the Seawigs, which went on to win the UKLA Award.[13] Their third book, Pugs of the Frozen North, won an Independent Bookshop Week children's book award.[14] The duo have a contract with the same publisher for a series of four more books, beginning with The Legend of Kevin.[15]

Writing methods[edit]

Reeve claims not to be a methodical writer. He does not plan anything at all, usually starting with an opening image, a closing image, and a few vague notions for the things that happen in between. This leads to thousands of words of rough draft material being abandoned – even entire novels, such as with Fever Crumb and Mortal Engines. He does, however take ideas from these abandoned drafts to build the final version. It usually takes him a year to get a novel from first idea to publication, six months of which are spent actively writing it. The rest of the time is spent on editing and thinking.[8][16]


Mortal Engines Universe[edit]

Mortal Engines Quartet[5]

The Mortal Engines series is called the "Hungry City Chronicles" in the United States.

Fever Crumb[5]

Buster Bayliss series[edit]

  • Night of the Living Veg (2002)
  • The Big Freeze (2002)
  • Day of the Hamster (2002)
  • Custardfinger! (2003)

Larklight trilogy[edit]

Books illustrated by David Wyatt

Goblins series[edit]

Books with page decorations by Dave Semple

  • Goblins (2012)
  • Goblins vs Dwarves (2013)
  • Goblin Quest (2014)

Railhead Series[edit]

  • Railhead (2015)
  • Black Light Express (2016)
  • Station Zero (2018)

Other novels[edit]

  • Isaac Newton and His Apple (1999)
  • Horatio Nelson and His Victory (2003)
  • Here Lies Arthur (2007)
  • No Such Thing As Dragons (2009)
  • Doctor Who: The Roots of Evil (2013)[17]

Reeve & McIntyre Production Series[edit]

Books written together with, and illustrated by Sarah McIntyre
US series title: Not-So-Impossible Tale Series

As illustrator[edit]

  • Awful Art (1997), by Michael Cox
  • Henry Spaloosh! (1997), by Chris d'Lacey
  • Murderous Maths series (from 1997), by Kjartan Poskitt
  • Pantsacadabra! (2006), by Kjartan Poskitt
  • Urgum the Axeman (2006), by Kjartan Poskitt
  • Borgon the Axeboy series (from 2014), by Kjartan Poskitt
  • Gawain and the Green Knight (2016), Oxford Reading Tree series, by the Pearl Poet, retold by Philip Reeve

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c UK Theatre web listing for The Ministry of Biscuits
  2. ^ "The Ministry of Biscuits (2017-12-22)". Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  3. ^ Ministry of Biscuits listing on the Foundry Group website Archived 7 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Tour Dates – 'The Ministry of Biscuits' ::". Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e Philip Reeve at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  6. ^ Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2006 (top page). 8 August 2012.
  7. ^ "Guardian children's fiction prize relaunched: Entry details and list of past winners". 12 March 2001. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  8. ^ a b Reilly, Fiachra. "Questions and Answers with Philip Reeve -". Archived from the original on 30 September 2010. Retrieved 28 September 2010.
  9. ^ (Carnegie Winner 2008) Archived 17 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  10. ^ Margolis, Rick (11 January 2006). "Brits in Space: In Philip Reeve's latest novel, the British empire stretches to Saturn and beyond". School Library Journal. Retrieved 28 October 2008.
  11. ^ White, James (6 October 2010). "Tomas Alfredson Catches The Larklight: Directing the adventure novel adaptation". Empire Online. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  12. ^ Press Desk (directory). CILIP. Retrieved 8 August 2012. Quote: "media releases relating to the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards in date order." (2002 to 2006 releases concern 2001 to 2005 awards.)
  13. ^ Walker, Phoebe (10 July 2015). "UKLA book awards 2015: winners announced". The Guardian. Guardian. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  14. ^ Drabble, Emily (17 June 2016). "Pugs and cats steal the Indie Bookshop Week children's book awards 2016". The Guardian. Guardian. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  15. ^ Staff, Bookseller (12 October 2017). "The Legend of Kevin set for OUP Children's". The Bookseller. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  16. ^ Jones, Rhys (9 October 2010). "An Interview with Philip Reeve-". Retrieved 30 October 2010.
  17. ^ "Doctor Who: The Roots of Evil – Puffin Books". Puffin Books. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 18 July 2014.

Henry Keazor, "Mortal Engines" und "Infernal Devices": Architektur- und Technologie-Nostalgie bei Philip Reeve", in: Techniknostalgie und Retrotechnologie, ed. by Andreas Böhn and Kurt Möser, Karlsruhe 2010, p. 129 – 147 <>

External links[edit]