I was born in Ely, in the Fens...
...three years before the outbreak of World War 2. My father was a printer but, like most men, he was called up into the army. I had no brothers or sisters and lived with my mother, who ran a small stationery shop.
I was a solitary child, and a bit of a dreamer. I liked being alone and spent a lot of time walking and cycling in the countryside. And I read a lot of books.
Later, I was a drill and small-arms instructor in the army, a tram-conductor in Blackpool, and a schoolteacher.
However, I spent most of my professional life teaching English literature at Homerton College, Cambridge University, where I taught many courses on children’s literature. I have reviewed many children’s books, and co-written, edited and co-edited several academic works on aspects of children’s literature from the eighteenth century to the present day.
In 2000 I wrote Reading Series Fiction, an analytical account of series writers, including Arthur Ransome, Malcolm Saville, Enid Blyton and Susan Cooper. I also edited The Cambridge Guide to Children’s Books in English, and was for many years a Trustee and Chairman of Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books in Newcastle.
Retirement provided the opportunity to write my own fiction. I started with the five novels in the Paradise Barn series, using my early memories of a wartime childhood in the East Anglian Fens, which was a rich source of narrative material.
More recently, I have turned my attention to books for adult readers.
My wife Judy and I live in Saffron Walden in Essex, with our cat Poppy, and a tortoise called Houdini. We have three grown-up children, four grown-up granddaughters, and one great-grandson (so far).