Babette Cole was 'one of the finest illustrators of her generation' and an author of 'witty and original stories' told in fun and innovative ways. Born in 1949, she studied at the Canterbury College of Art. She began her by working in television on animated programmes such as Bagpuss. She then began illustrating greetings cards and story books, publishing her own book, Basil Brush of the Yard in 1977. The Trouble with Mum (1983) and Princess Smarytpants (1986) are her most famous works, turning traditional fairy-tales upside down. Her other stories include Nungu and the Hippopotamus (1978), Hair in Funny Places (1999) and Mummy Laid an Egg! (1993), which all introduce a range of difficult topics to children. Her stories won many awards including The British Book Trust Award and Children’s Book of the Year. An animal lover, countryside dweller and keen rider, many of her loveable characters were inspired by her animal companions. Babette Cole passed away on 14th January 2017.
Michael is a renowned author, poet, playwright and librettist best known for his children's books. He grew up in London, Sussex and Canterbury before joining the army. After deciding this was not for him, he went on to become a teacher. Michael and his wife Clare then started a new chapter and set up the charity Farms for City Children (which aims to provide children with memorable experiences about the world around them), moved to Devon and set up the large house where the children could stay. It has been in Devon that Michael has written the majority of his books. He has received an abundance of awards for his children's stories and some of his works have become films and stage shows, such as the highly-acclaimed War House (1982). His titles include Why the Whales Came (1985), The Butterfly Lion (1996), Kensuke's Kingdom (1999), Private Peaceful (2003), Running Wild (2009) and An Eagle in the Snow (2016).
Alice was trained as a classicist at New College, University of Oxford. Her first collection of poetry, The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile (1996), received a Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection. Her second book, Dart (2002), was the outcome of years of research into the history, environment, and community along the River Dart in Devon. Oswald’s other collections of poetry include Woods, etc. (2005), winner of a Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize Weeds and Wild Flowers (2009), illustrated by Jessica Greenman; A Sleepwalk on the Severn (2009); and Memorial (2011), a reworking of Homer’s Iliad that has received high critical praise for its innovative approach and stunning imagery and which won the 2013 Warwick Prize for writing. Oswald was the first poet to win the prize. Her latest book is Falling Awake (2016). Oswald’s many honours and awards include an Eric Gregory Award, an Arts Foundation Award for Poetry, a Forward Prize for Best Single Poem and a Ted Hughes Award. (Credit: The Poetry Foundation).
Mal Charles Peet was an English author and illustrator who grew up in Norfolk and started his first novel when he was 52. Keeper (2003) won the Branford Boase Award. His second novel, Tamar (2005) won the annual Carnegie Medal awarded by the libraries' association CILIP and recognising the year's best children's book published in the UK. The Penalty (2007) was shortlisted for the Book Trust Teenage Prize and Peet won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize for Exposure (2008), a modern re-telling of Shakespeare's Othello. Life: An Exploded Diagram (2011), a semi-autobiographical novel, was his last book for young readers. The Murdstone Trilogy (2014) is his first work aimed at adult readers. Mal Peet spent many years in Exmouth before he sadly passed away in 2015. His unfinished manuscript, Beck, was finished by his friend and peer Meg Rosoff, and published by Walker books in 2016.
Novelist and short-story writer, William Trevor was born in Mitchelstown, Republic of Ireland in 1928. After studying at Trinity College, Dublin, he worked briefly as a teacher and then a copywriter before working full-time as a writer from 1965. His first novel, A Standard Behaviour, was published in 1958, however, he considered The Old Boys (1962) to be his debut. His short story collections include The Day We Got Drunk on Cake and Other Stories (1967), The Ballroom of Romance and Other Stories (1972) and Beyond the Pale (1981). William Trevor has won many awards for his novels: The Old Boys won the Hawthornden Prize in 1964, The Children of Dynmouth was awarded the Whitbread Novel Award in 1976 and The Story of Lucy Gault was shortlisted for the 2002 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. William Trevor was awarded an honorary CBE in 1977 for his services to literature, made a Companion of Literature in 1994 and was knighted in 2002. He was also a sculptor and exhibited frequently in Dublin and London. William Trevor passed away in November 2016.