David Almond

David Almond

David Almond in 2008
Born (1951-05-15) 15 May 1951
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Occupation Writer
Nationality British
Period 1998–present
Genre Children's novels, speculative fiction, Magic Realism
Notable works
Notable awards Carnegie Medal
Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing

David Almond FRSL (born 15 May 1951) is a British author who has written several novels for children and young adults from 1998, each one receiving critical acclaim.

He is one of thirty children's writers, and one of three from the U.K., to win the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award, "the world's most prestigious prize in children's literature".[1][2] For the 70th anniversary of the British Carnegie Medal in 2007, his debut novel Skellig (1998) was named one of the top ten Medal-winning works, selected by a panel to compose the ballot for a public election of the all-time favourite.[3] It ranked third in the public vote from that shortlist.[4]

Early life and education

Almond was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1951 and raised in neighbouring Felling.[5] His father was an office manager in an engineering factory and his mother a shorthand typist. He was raised Catholic and had four sisters and one brother.[6] As a child, he dreamed of becoming a writer and "wrote stories and stitched them into little books."[6] He describes his childhood as one with "much joy" but also "much sadness," losing his younger sister and father at a young age.[6]

He was educated at the University of East Anglia and Newcastle Polytechnic.[5] After graduating, Almond worked as a teacher for five years; he then moved to an artists' commune in Norfolk and concentrated on his writing.[5] He returned to Newcastle and worked as a part-time special needs teacher while editing the literary journal Panurge.[5]


Almond published his first novel in 1985, Sleepless Nights. His second novel, A Kind of Heaven, appeared in 1987. He then wrote a series of stories which drew on his own childhood, and which would eventually be published as Counting Stars, published by Hodder in 2001. In the next seven years, four more novels by Almond made the Carnegie Medal shortlist of five to eight books.[7] Since Skellig his novels, stories, and plays have also brought international success and widespread critical acclaim. They are Kit's Wilderness (1999), Heaven Eyes (2000), Secret Heart (2001), The Fire Eaters (2003), Clay (2005), Jackdaw Summer (2009), and My Name is Mina (2010), a prequel to Skellig. He collaborates with leading artists and illustrators, including Polly Dunbar (My Dad's a Birdman and The Boy Who Climbed Into the Moon); Stephen Lambert (Kate, the Cat and the Moon; and Dave McKean (The Savage, Slog's Dad and the forthcoming Mouse Bird Snake Wolf). His plays include Wild Girl, Wild Boy, My Dad's a Birdman, Noah & the Fludd and the stage adaptations of Skellig and Heaven Eyes.

Almond's novel The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean (2011) was published in two editions: Adult (Penguin Viking); and Young Adult (Puffin). 2012 publications include The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas (illustrated by Oliver Jeffers). In 2013, Mouse Bird Snake Wolf (illustrated by Dave McKean) was published.

His works are highly philosophical and thus appeal to children and adults alike. Recurring themes throughout include the complex relationships between apparent opposites (such as life and death, reality and fiction, past and future); forms of education; growing up and adapting to change; the nature of the "self". He has been greatly influenal Hans Christian Andersen Award for Writing, which biennially recognises the "lasting contribution" of one living author.[1] (He had been one of five finalists in 2008.)[8] The jury president, Ms Zohreh Ghaeni from Iran, observed that Almond "writes about children in crisis, while continuously giving hope to them", and cited in particular his first two novels, Skellig and Kit's Wilderness. She called "bibliotherapy" such as she attributed to Almond "a vital activity for all children around the world."[9] When it named him a finalist months before, the international jury cited his "deeply philosophical novels that appeal to children and adults alike, and encourage readers by his use of magic realism".[10] For his body of work Almond was also a British nominee for the Astrid Lindgren Award at the same time.[10]


Almond's major awards include the Carnegie Medal (Skellig);[11] two Whitbread Awards; the U.S. Michael L. Printz Award for young-adult books (Kit's Wilderness);[lower-alpha 1] the Smarties Prize, ages 9–11 years (The Fire-Eaters); the U.S. Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, Children's Fiction (The Fire-Eaters); the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize (A Song for Ella Grey); [12][13] Le Prix Sorceress (France); the Katholischer Kinder-und Jugendbuchpreis (Germany); and a Silver Pencil and three Silver Kisses (Netherlands).

The Skellig prequel My Name is Mina (Hodder, 2010) was a finalist for three major annual awards: the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize,[14] the Carnegie Medal,[15] and the (German) Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis.


Picture books and graphic novels

Personal life

Almond now lives in Northumberland. He is married to Sara Jane, a ceramics maker, and has a daughter, Freya.[6]

See also


  1. The American Library Association inaugurated its annual Printz Award for young-adult books with 1999 U.S. publications. Through 2012 no one has won two. With Skellig one of three inaugural runners-up and Kit's Wilderness the winner of the second Award (dated 2001), Almond is one of two writers with one Printz Medal and one "Honor Book".
    "Michael L. Printz Winners and Honor Books". Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). American Library Association. (ALA).
    "The Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature". YALSA. ALA. Retrieved 2013-07-29.


  1. 1 2 "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 2012-08-20.
  2. "David Almond wins Hans Christian Andersen medal". Alison Flood. The Guardian 23 March 2010. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
  3. "70 Years Celebration: Anniversary Top Tens". The CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
  4. "Pullman children's book voted best in 70 years". John Ezard. The Guardian 21 June 2007. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "David Almond - Literature". literature.britishcouncil.org. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  6. 1 2 3 4 "Walker Books - David Almond". www.walker.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-04-08.
  7. Press Desk (directory). CILIP. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 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.)
  8. "IBBY Announces Winners of 2008 Hans Christian Andersen Awards". IBBY. Press release 31 March 2008. Retrieved 2013-07-23.
  9. "Presentation of the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 2010". Zohreh Ghaeni. IBBY. 11 September 2010. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
  10. 1 2 "David Almond in running for prestigious children's book prize 'double'". Alison Flood. guardian.co.uk 18 March 2010. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
  11. (Carnegie Winner 1998). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
  12. "David Almond wins Guardian children's fiction prize". Michelle Pauli. TheGuardian.com. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
  13. "David Almond: Orpheus helped me write A Song for Ella Grey". David Almond. TheGuardian.com. 19 November 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
  14. "Guardian children's fiction prize: the shortlist". Julia Eccleshare. guardian.co.uk 30 September 2011. Retrieved 2012-07-11.
  15. "The CILIP Carnegie Medal Shortlist for 2012". CILIP. Retrieved 2013-07-29.

External links

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