Melvin Burgess biography

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Melvin Burgess
Photo: John Coombes

Melvin Burgess

Melvin Burgess Biography

Melvin Burgess was born 25 April 1954, and is a British writer of children's fiction is best known as the author of Junk - one of the most acclaimed and controversial books for young people ever to have been written. Neither the fact that Melvin came to write Junk, nor its resulting success surprised those already familiar with his work. "This writer involves the reader (and) plays havoc with the emotions," observed Wendy Cooling long before the controversy over Junk began.

His debut novel The Cry of the Wolf had prompted author Robert Westall to say, "As the shocker of the seventies, I'd like to say hello to the shocker of the nineties...". The Cry of the Wolf was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, as were Burgess's later titles: An Angel For May, The Baby and Fly Pie and The Ghost Behind the Wall. Fly Pie, a thriller in which a group of street children get involved in a baby kidnap, provided a clear signpost to the road that Burgess was travelling; the road that would lead to Junk, Bloodtide and Lady: My Life as a Bitch (Described by The Guardian as "...a book about a teenage girl who embarks on a rampant sexual odyssey on the eve of her GCSEs.")

Melvin Burgess was brought up in Sussex and Berkshire. As a child, his reading included The Wind in the Willows and Gerald Durrell's animal stories. He went on to enjoy The Hobbit and Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast books. A generally unconfident student, he became interested in writing when he was twelve and an English teacher praised one of his stories - "it was about the first time I'd ever done anything that got an A. I was so pleased I never stopped." After leaving school, Melvin moved to Bristol where he worked on occasional jobs, mainly in the building industry, and was often unemployed. He started writing in his twenties and wrote on and off for the next fifteen years before The Cry of the Wolf was published. He moved to London in 1983 and began a small business marbling fabrics for the fashion industry.

Melvin no lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, with his partner Anita, and writes full-time.

Melvin Burgess's website

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All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Melvin Burgess but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
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    If you enjoyed:
    The Hit

    Try:
    How to Set a Fire and Why
    by Jesse Ball

  • Suzanne Collins

    Suzanne Collins

    Bestselling author Suzanne Collins first made her mark in children's literature with the New York Times bestselling Underland Chronicles series for middle grade readers. Her debut for readers aged 12 and up, The Hunger ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Hit

    Try:
    Mockingjay
    by Suzanne Collins

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