The University of Warwick has announced that it is to award an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters to acclaimed Cheshire author Alan Garner. It is particularly fitting that this honorary degree should be announced in this month as October 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of his first published novel The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. The book has never been out of print and has been enjoyed by several generations of children.
Alan Garner is a prize winning author whose novels are not only firmly established as classics of English literature but are also loved and treasured by both children and adults
He was born in Cheshire and grew up Alderley Edge. His family roots are in Cheshire and the area around Alderley Edge, where he lives now, and that area has greatly influenced his writing. Many of his works, including The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath, and more recently Thursbitch. draw on the legends and geography of Alderley Edge.
His inspiration has come from Alderley Edge’s history, mythology and archaeology and from his own local explorations. He is particularly interested in the language of the area (which he describes as ‘North-West Mercian Middle English’) and has tried to reproduce its cadences in modern English.
His first three books- The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Moon of Gomrath and Elidor – were fantasy, and marketed for children. However he has also written acclaimed novels that are aimed at adults such as Thursbitch (2003).
The Owl Service was also made into an 8 episode TV series. It was produced in 1969 and televised in the winter of 1969-1970 and Alan Garner himself wrote the scripts. It was the first fully-scripted colour production by Granada Television and was filmed almost entirely on location in Wales. It remains one of the most haunting children’s TV series ever made. An audio dramatisation of The Owl Service was also produced and transmitted by BBC Radio 4 in 2000. Many of his other works have been adapted for television and in 1981 he himself made a film, Image and Landscape, which won first prize at the Chicago International Film Festival.
His other novels include Red Shift (1973), Strandloper (1996) and Thursbitch (2003); he has also written collections of short stories – The Stone Book received the Phoenix Award from the Children’s Literature Association (USA) in 1996 – and The Voice That Thunders, a collection of essays and lectures published in 1997. In 2001, Alan Garner was awarded the OBE for services to children’s literature.
Alan Garner will receive his honorary degree of Doctor of Letters at one of the University of Warwick’s winter degree ceremonies on Thursday, 20 January 2011.
Useful links to interviews with Alan Garner etc:
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PR 136 17th October 2010