Monday, October 25, 2010

Eva Ibbotson

I was so shocked to hear of Ms. Ibbotson's death last week. I have only just discovered her and have fallen in love with her writing. I know that so many of you guys loved her writing too - I got inudnated with comments on Twitter which made me feel fuzzy and warm when I tweeted about me reading The Journey to the River Sea back in September.

I've contacted her UK publishers, MacMillan and asked them if MFB can perhaps put something up to commemorate this very talented lady. They have sent me the official obit they had drawn up and I copy it below.


Eva Ibbotson, the much-loved and celebrated children’s author, died peacefully on the 20th October 2010 at her home in Newcastle. She was 85.

‘Eva Ibbotson weaves a magic like no other. Once enchanted, always enchanted.’ – Michael Morpurgo

Born in Vienna, Austria, which she noted was ‘a very beautiful city ringed by green hills, and a wonderful place for music and the theatre’, Eva Ibbotson came to Britain in 1934 at the age of eight with her family, refugees from Hitler. They were ‘a bedraggled party consisting of my fey, poetic mother, my irascible grandmother and confused aunt (my father – as was customary in my family – was somewhere else)’.

Eva was the author of many magical, rich and evocative adventures – over 20 novels for children and adults. She was especially well-known for her books’ fantastic creatures, outrageous characters, and brilliant storytelling – all the product of her famously lively imagination and astute observation of human foibles. In a career stretching over 35 years, Eva’s novels touched the hearts and souls of generations of children (and their parents). She wrote with immense wit, economy and elegance – and her deceptively funny, engaging books always pack an emotional punch, whether she was writing for eight-year-olds or young teens. Eva’s own fierce intelligence, self-deprecating humour, and wonderful quick wittedness are reflected in and will live on through her books.

Her success over a generation of writing children’s books was well recorded, and she was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal with Which Witch?, the Smarties Prize with The Secret of Platform 13 and the 2001 Blue Peter Book Award in the Book I Couldn't Put Down category with Monster Mission.

Her novel, Journey to the River Sea, was runner-up in the Guardian Children's Fiction Award, shortlisted for the Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year Award, won the Nestle Smarties Prize and has also been selected as a top 20 ‘brilliant book’ to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this award. This extraordinary book will mark its 10th anniversary in 2011.

The Star of Kazan received the silver award in the Nestle Smarties Prize 2004 and was also shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal. The Beasts of Clawstone Castle was published in May 2005 alongside the paperback edition of The Star of Kazan followed by A Song for Summer in 2006, The Secret Countess in 2007, A Company of Swans and The Dragonfly Pool in 2008. Eva continued to enjoy critical acclaim for her writing and was delighted when her latest book, The Ogre of Oglefort, published this year, was shortlisted for Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize 2010. Eva was writing to the end, and her last book One Dog and His Boy will be published in May 2011.

For Eva, writing was a joy, and she especially enjoyed the research she conducted into the Amazon area for her book Journey To The River Sea – ‘For years I researched that part of the world. I learnt about the ‘rubber barons’ who went out at the beginning of the century to harvest the rubber trees which grew wild in the forest, and who became so rich that they could send their shirts back to Europe to be laundered, and wash their carriage horses in champagne. It was they who built Manaus and sent for famous actors and dancers and singers across the sea to perform in their beautiful opera house. Yet all the time the untamed jungle was on the doorstep, waiting to take over if they failed…

Meanwhile I wrote books for children about wizards and witches and harpies and ghosts – and books for adults about all sorts of things.

But my interest in the exotic world of the Amazon never left me. Journey to the River Sea is my attempt to share this world with you.’


It really saddens me that she is gone. But then she left behind fantastic stories to discover and read and share with younger folk and older folk, like me. I am sure she will continue to inspire a great many readers and writers alike. Farewell lovely Eva, your fans - old and new - will miss you.


Linda said...

Hear, hear! I'd just read 'The Ogre of Oglethorpe' when I heard the news, and I'd enjoyed the book so much I felt I'd lost a friend.

Unknown said...

Oh my goodness. I hadnt heard. Plus I thought she was so much younger than 85. Wow a loss to the literary world