Author Nina Bawden
Nina Bawden is without question one of the very best writers for children.
-- The Daily Telegraph
Born in London in January of 1925, Nina Bawden (nee Nina Mary Mabey) has often drawn on her own life for inspiration for her writing. Like Carrie Willow, the heroine of Carrie's War, Bawden was also a wartime evacuee. At the age of 14 she was sent away to the mining valleys of South Wales.
She attended Somerville College, Oxford University, where she studied politics, philosophy and economics and from which she received both a BA and an MA. She completed her first novel (for adult readers) the year after graduation. She then married and started a family. Ten years later, her first foray into children's literature was The Secret Passage (1963), written for her own children, after they discovered a secret passage in their home.
Throughout her writing career, Bawden has been acclaimed for her ability to put herself in the place of a child. She has frequently written about places, events and people she has known. "I like writing for children," she has said. "It seems to me that most people underestimate their understanding and the strength of their feelings and in my books for them I try to put this right." She feels that children are "a kind of subject race, always at the mercy of the adults who mostly run their lives for them."
Prolific, she has written over forty novels (23 for adults and 19 for children), and an autobiography, In My Own Time. Several of her novels for children -- Carrie's War, The Peppermint Pig, The Runaway Summer and Keeping Henry -- have become contemporary classics. Her adult work includes the Booker shortlisted Circles of Deceit and Family Money. Her books have been translated into many different languages; several have been adapted for film or television.
In May of 2002 Bawden's husband Austen Kark was killed instantly and she was gravely injured in a British train derailment (known as the "Potters Bar crash"). Bawden was movingly portrayed as a character in the David Hare play, The Permanent Way, about the privatization of the British railways; Bawden herself wrote Dear Austen, a powerful essay addressed to her late husband, a former managing director of the BBC World Service.
In 2004 she received the prestigious S.T. Dupont Golden Pen Award for "a lifetime's contribution to literature." Presenting the award, Lady Rachel Billington, former President of English PEN, said, "Nina Bawden is an impeccable and exciting writer... Carrie's War, her World War Two story, published in 1973, is a classic of children's literature. Bawden fiction never dates. It always dazzles."
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