Tuesday, 26 October 2010

In memory of Eva Ibbotson- one of my favourite authors

I am very sad to say that I woke up this morning to read in the newspaper that Eva Ibbotson, one of my favourite authors passed away peacefullyaged 85 in her Newcastle home last Wednesday.
In her lifetime she wrote many books that have captured the heart of all ages and won several prestigious awards. Even though we have lost a shining star in children's literature, her charm and wit will live on through her writing for many generations to come.

I know that I am not alone in loving her magical and vividly descriptive fairy tale like writing in her books like The Star of Kazan coupled contrastingly with adventure stories for younger readers such as Monster Mission that all have happy endings.
Her books are filled with fantastical creatures: witches, wizards and banshees galore dropped into wildly  imagined exotic worlds as well as her favourite characters of eccentric Aunts and cruel guardians that torment orphans in their care. Questioned about this familiar Aunt feature in her books she said: 'When I get stuck into a book I usually try putting an Aunt in.'
She reminds me a little of Enid Blyton with her slightly old fashioned writing, filled with adventure, fantasy, mystery, magic and nature.

Many of her books were inspired by her childhood spent in Vienna and as a refugee in Britain, which is what makes many of her books so unique with first hand experience of her character Anna's (in the Secret Countess) experience of having to escape from the Russian revolution to Britain and other stories set in Vienna.

Here is a short biogrpahy of her life taken from The Independant :

Born in Vienna in 1925, Eva Ibbotson spent her early years shuttling between separated parents: her scientist father and her writer mother. She came to England after the Nazi seizure of power in 1933 with her father, a physiologist appointed to a post at Edinburgh University; her mother followed a year later. She attended Dartington Hall and studied physiology at university, where she met her husband, the ecologist Alan Ibbotson. They moved to Newcastle, where he taught at the university, and had four children; he died in 1998.

Her books:

For children:

Which Witch?- shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal
The Great Ghost rescue
Dial a Ghost
The Beasts of Clawstone Castle
Not Just a Witch

Monster Mission- I remember reading this one in the bath with my mum and brother. It was shortlisted for the 2001 Blue Peter Award in the category in the 'Book I Couldn't Put Down' category

The Haunting of Granite Falls
The Haunting of Hiram
The Worm and the Toffee Nosed Princess
The Secret of Platfrom Thirteen- shortlisted for the Smarties Prize

Her new book The Ogre of Oglefort is being published next year so we have not seen her last work yet!

For Pre-teens

The Star of Kazan- I have not read this for a few years now but I remember the rich storyline that had me captured, it was the first book of hers that I read. It was shortlisted for the 2005 Carnegie Medal.

Journey to The River Sea- Nature features heavily in this one (as it can be seen on the cover) as it does in others of her books and Obama has said recently that he has brought the book for his daughters age nine and twelve. It came runner up in the Guardian's Children's Fiction Award, was shortlisted for the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year Award,  and won the Gold Medal for the 2003 Smarties prize.

The Dragonfly Pool- About a young girl named Tally sent to the progressive boarding school Delderton Hall inspired by Dartington Hall which she attened as a child

For older teenagers/adults- These were originally aimned for the adult market but the covers have recently been re-designed to appeal to teenagers

The Secret Countess (originally A Countess Below Stairs)
Magic Flutes- won the Romantic Novelists Association award in 1983
A Song For Summer
The Morning Gift (originally The Reluctant Heiress)
A Company of Swans (reviewed here)

I know that there are many other bloggers who are fans of Eva's books and I would like to hold a reading challenge in memory of her. If you would be interested in participating I would love to know and it would be great if you could mention how long you would like it to last and when the best time to start it would be. Thank you!



  1. She was a fantastic writer- I loved Journey to the River Sea.
    Rest In Peace Eva xx

  2. That's really sad news...
    We teach 'Journey to the River Sea' at my school in year 6, and the children absolutely love it.

  3. Lovely post. :)

    I've actually never read anything by Eva Ibbotson, but I'd be up for a reading challenge. My current challenges finish at the end of the year and if other people's are the same, maybe January would be a good time to start?

  4. I love Eva Ibbotson I first read one of her books in yr7. we were made to read Journey to the river sea for english but stopped right in the middle of the book as the year ended. so i took it upon myself to go to the library and get it out. i have loved her since then and am quite upset there won't be any more wonderful tales woven by her pen - R.I.P Eva xx


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