Peter Dickinson biography

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Peter Dickinson

Peter Dickinson

Peter Dickinson Biography

Peter Dickinson, born in 1927, has written more than fifty novels for adults and young readers; and has won both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children's Award twice.

He is a tall, elderly, bony, beaky, wrinkled sort of fellow, with a lot of untidy gray hair and a weird hooting voice – in fact he looks and sounds a bit like Gandalf’s crazy twin, but he’s only rather absent-minded, probably because he’s thinking about something else. Day-dreaming, mostly.

He was born in the middle of Africa, within earshot of the Victoria Falls. Baboons sometimes came into the school playground. When people went swimming in the Zambezi they did it in a big wooden cage let down into the water, so that the crocs couldn’t get at them. For the hot weather the family went south to his grandfather’s ostrich farm in South Africa.

Then the family came back to England so that he and his brothers could go to English Schools, where they taught him mostly Latin and Greek. He didn’t have an English lesson after he was twelve, and nobody ever told him to write a story. He was fairly good at games.

He’s led an ordinary kind of life – not much by way of adventures, but some silly things. Such as? Well, when he had to join the army, just after World War II, they managed to turn him into two people; so he was bashing away at infantry training at a camp in Northern Ireland when two sea-sick military policemen showed up and arrested him for being a deserter from a different camp in the south of England, where his other self was supposed to be bashing away.

He was tutoring a boy in a huge old castle in Scotland when the butler (it was that sort of household) said to him at dinner one day "Ah, sir, it’s a long time since we heard screams coming from the West Wing!" (Peter’s screams, not the boy’s.)

And he was knocked down by a tram on his way to the interview for his first job and arrived all covered with blood and dirt, but they gave him the job because he was the only candidate. He stayed there seventeen years.

He and his first wife had two daughters and two sons, and he now has six grandchildren. He and his second wife, the American writer Robin McKinley, live in an almost-too-pretty country town in England.

About This Biography
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Interview

An essay by Peter Dickinson entitled 'A Defense of Rubbish'

The danger of living in a golden age of children’s literature is that not enough rubbish is being produced.

Nobody who has not spent a whole sunny afternoon under his bed rereading a pile of comics left over from the previous holidays has any real idea of the meaning of intellectual freedom.

Nobody who has not written comic strips can really understand the phrase, economy of words. It’s like trying to write Paradise Lost in haiku.

The above remarks, and a few more like them, have now haunted me for five years. They were part of a digression in a talk I gave to the 1970 Exeter conference on children’s literature, and if I’d realised then what a powder-keg I was throwing my fag-end of thought into I would have kept my trap shut. I’ve no wish to be type-cast as the man who likes rubbish. On the other hand I did (and do) believe what I said then, and what follows is a more serious attempt to formulate my ideas.

I have always believed that children ought to be allowed to read a certain amount of rubbish. Sometimes quite a high proportion of their reading matter can healthfully consist...

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Books by this Author

Books by Peter Dickinson at BookBrowse
Inside Grandad jacket Tears of The Salamander jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Peter Dickinson 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.
How we choose readalikes

  • David Almond

    David Almond

    David Almond, in his own words:

    I was born in Newcastle and I grew up in a big Catholic family in Felling-on-Tyne. I had four sisters and a brother and lots of relatives in the streets nearby. My dad had been in Burma ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Inside Grandad

    Try:
    My Dad's A Birdman
    by David Almond

  • Kate DiCamillo

    Kate DiCamillo

    It's a pipe dream of many an aspiring author: publish your debut novel, claim a spot on the New York Times bestseller list, and rack up an astonishing array of awards, including a Newbery Honor. For Kate DiCamillo, ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Inside Grandad

    Try:
    The Tiger Rising
    by Kate DiCamillo

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