Plenary Speakers Biographies
Julia Eccleshare is Children’s Books Editor of the Guardian and a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster. She has worked as a fiction and picture book editor including working for the inspirational Kaye Webb at Puffin before a freelance career as an editorial advisor and critic. In addition to numerous anthologies her books include, Treasure Islands: The Woman’s Hour Guide to Children’s Reading (BBC Books, 1987), A Guide to the Harry Potter Novels (Continuum, 2002), Beatrix Potter to Harry Potter: Portraits of children’s writers (National Portrait Gallery, 2002), The Rough Guide to Picture Books, (Rough Guides, 2007) and, with Nicholas Tucker, The Rough Guide to Teenage Books, (Rough Guides, October, 2002). She is the editor of 1001 Children’s books to read before you grow up, (Cassells, 2009).
She is chair of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize and founder and chair of the Branford Boase first novel prize. She has judged numerous other prizes including the Booktrust Teenage Prize and the Whitbread Children’s Book Prize. She won the Eleanor Farjeon Award 2000 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to children’s books and was appointed MBE for service to children’s books in 2014.
She is a founder member of the steering committee for the Children’s Laureate, and a trustee of Listening Books and the Siobhan Dowd Trust.
Dianne Hofmeyr grew up on the southern tip of Africa. She graduated as an art teacher in Cape Town and has written several teenage novels and picture books and her work has been translated into more than eighteen languages. The Magic Bojabi Tree illustrated by Piet Grobler, was nominated for the 2014 Kate Greenaway Award. She has two IBBY Honour Books (and her novel, Boikie You Better Believe It won the M-Net Award for fiction). Her most recent picture book Zeraffa Giraffa illustrated by Jane Ray is on The Sunday Times Top 100 Children’s Classics List and she and Jane are presently collaborating on another picture book,The Glassmaker’s Daughter set in Venice.
Jane has been illustrating and writing children’s picture books since graduating from Middlesex University and has a particular interest in myths, legends, folk and fairy tales.
She has worked with many writers including Carol Ann Duffy, Dianne Hofmeyr, Berlie Doherty and Jeanette Winterson. Her most recent collaboration has been with Kevin Crossley Holland on Heartsong, an illustrated novella, set in 18th century Venice. She is also the author\illustrator of a series of anthologies published by Boxer Books, the most recent of which, The Lion and the Unicorn and other Hairy Tales has just been published. She is currently working on The Glass Makers Daughter, another lyrical story by Dianne Hofmeyr, author of Zeraffa Giraffa.
Nicky Singer is a novelist, dramatist and librettist. Her first children’s novel Feather Boy won the Blue Peter ‘Book of the Year’ Award and is published in 28 countries. It was also adapted for TV (winning a BAFTA for Best Children’s Drama) and commissioned by the National Theatre as a musical with lyrics by Don Black and music by Debbie Wiseman. In 2010 Nicky was asked by Glyndebourne to adapt her YA novel Knight Crew (a re-telling of the King Arthur legend set in contemporary gangland) for an opera with music by Julian Philips. 2012 saw both the publication of The Flask (about songs and souls and things which live in bottles) and the National Theatre premiere of her play Island . She has just re-written Island as a novel (with illustrations by Chris Riddell) and published it via crowd-funding.
Clémentine Beauvais is a Junior Research Fellow in Education at Homerton College, Cambridge. She is also a children’s author in French (with Sarbacane, Alice, Talents Hauts) and in English (Bloomsbury, Hodder).
Daniel Hahn is a writer, editor and translator with forty-something books to his name, and the current chair of the Society of Authors. His work has won him the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Blue Peter Book Award. Recent books include the new Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature and translations of novels from Brazil and Angola.
Barry Cunningham: Publisher and Managing Director, Chicken House.
Barry Cunningham worked for Puffin, Random House, and Bloomsbury (where he became one of the best-known names in publishing after he signed up J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone), before starting his own company, Chicken House Publishing Ltd. At Chicken House he has worked with Cornelia Funke, Lucy Christopher, Kevin Brooks, Cathryn Constable, Melvin Burgess and James Dashner. In 2010 Barry was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Honours List for services to literature.
Anna McQuinn: Publisher and Founder of Alanna Books
Anna McQuinn was born and grew up on the west coast of Ireland. After reading a BA and MA at University College Cork, she did a post-graduate teaching qualification and taught English for a number of years before moving to the UK. Since then, she’s worked in publishing as an editor and publisher (at NFER-Nelson, Child’s Play, Reader’s Digest, Victoria House Publishing and Frances Lincoln, before heading up her own list at DeAgostini. In 2006 she founded her own small independent list, Alanna Books and she now divides her time between publishing, working directly with children and writing – she is author of the successful Lulu series.
Her love for reading makes her a passionate advocate for inclusion – she believes that if children see themselves and their experiences in books they are more likely to read for pleasure and become life-long readers.
Melvin Burgess is the celebrated writer of critically-acclaimed fiction for children and young adults. His first book, The Cry of the Wolf, was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and in 1996, Junk, his story about growing up and falling in love with heroin in 1980s Bristol, won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize as well as the Carnegie Medal. Since then he has courted controversy with YA novels such as Lady: My Life as a Bitch, Doing It, and Nicholas Dane, and has provoked debate amongst critics and in the media about what is suitable subject matter for young readers. His work has been widely adapted for stage, TV and film, and he has written in a variety of forms, including a series of Twitter stories and the novelization of Billy Elliot. From 2012-2015 he was Honorary Fellow at the University of Roehampton.