Bawden in 2003
|Born||19 January 1925|
Ilford, Essex, England
|Died||22 August 2012 (aged 87)|
|Genre||Novels, Children's literature|
|Notable awards||Guardian Prize |
Nina Bawden CBE FRSL JP (19 January 1925 – 22 August 2012) was an English novelist and children's writer. She was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1987 and the Lost Man Booker Prize in 2010. She is one of very few who have both served as a Booker judge and made a Booker shortlist as an author. She was a recipient of the Golden PEN Award.
Bawden was born in 1925 and lived in Ilford, Essex, in "a rather nasty housing estate that [her] mother despised". Her mother was a teacher and her father a member of the Royal Marines. She was evacuated during World War II to Aberdare, Wales, at the age of fourteen. She spent school holidays at a farm in Shropshire with her mother and brothers.
From 1946 to 1954 Bawden was married to Harry Bawden. They had two sons, Nicholas (who took his own life in 1981) and Robert. In 1954 she married Austen Kark, a reporter who eventually became managing director of the BBC World Service. They had a daughter, Perdita, who died in March 2012. She also had two stepdaughters: Cathy, who lives in New Zealand, and Teresa, who lives in London.
In 2002 Bawden was badly injured in the Potters Bar rail crash, in which her husband Austen Kark was killed. Her testimony about the crash, and her exploration of the management and maintenance mistakes that caused it, became a major part of David Hare's play The Permanent Way, in which she appeared as a character.
Her novels include On the Run (1964), The Witch's Daughter (1966), The Birds on the Trees (1970), Carrie's War (1973), and The Peppermint Pig (1975). For the latter she won the 1976 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, a once-in-a-lifetime book award judged by a panel of British children's writers.Carrie's War won the 1993 Phoenix Award from the Children's Literature Association as the best English-language children's book that did not win a major contemporary award when it was originally published twenty years earlier. It is named for the mythical bird phoenix, which is reborn from its ashes, to suggest the book's rise from obscurity. (Bawden and Carrie's War had been a commended runner up for the Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book by a British subject.)[a]
In 2010, Bawden and The Birds on the Trees made the shortlist for the Lost Man Booker Prize. Forty years earlier, the Booker-McConnell Prize for the year's best British novel had skipped 1970 publications. Bawden and Shirley Hazzard were the only living nominees out of the six shortlisted; the award went to J. G. Farrell for Troubles. In 2004, she was awarded the Golden PEN Award by English PEN for "a Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Literature".