Dick King-Smith served in the Grenadier Guards during the Second World War, and afterwards spent twenty years as a farmer in Gloucestershire, the county of his birth. Many of his stories are inspired by his farming experiences. Later he taught at a village primary school. His first book, The Fox Busters, was published in 1978. He wrote a great number of children's books, including The Sheep-Pig (winner of the Guardian Award and filmed as Babe), Harry's Mad, Noah's Brother, The Hodgeheg, Martin's Mice, Ace, The Cuckoo Child and Harriet's Hare (winner of the Children's Book Award in 1995). At the British Book Awards in 1991 he was voted Children's Author of the Year. In 2009 he was made OBE for services to children's literature. Dick King-Smith died in 2011 at the age of eighty-eight.
About Dick King-Smith
An Interview with Dick King-Smith
More About Dick King-Smith
PLACE AND DATE OF BIRTH:
Bitten, Gloucestershire; 27 March 1922
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
MOST TREASURED POSSESSION:
A very small china owl, given to me by my mother's mother.
'Spread a little happiness' by Sonnie Hale
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
When did you start writing?
Started my first book for children, The Fox Busters, in 1976 got it published in 1978. Since then I have written so many books that I've rather lost count, but I think that at the moment (December 1997) the total is 107. A few are for very young children, a few are factual about pets and the countryside, a few are in verse; most are aimed at the seven to eleven age-range. Recently I have written two, Godhanger and The Crowstarver
that are for teenagers or adults.
Where do you get your ideas?
Sometimes they arise from things I've done, people I've met or known, animals I've owned
or known, but mostly it's a question of sitting and thinking. It all has to be invented -the idea, the title, the names of the characters, what's going to happen to them and when and how. It's up to me, as it is to all writers of whatever sort of books, to work out how I'm going to start, and go on, and finish. I do like happy endings.
Can you give your top three tips to becoming a successful author?
1. Read as widely as you can. Try not to read rubbish, but soak up all sorts of good
stories. Unconsciously you'll take in the way that established authors write their
different styles, if you like. Your style, when it comes, will be yours and yours alone, for better or for worse, but it will have been affected by your reading.
2. Practise. No good saying, 'I'm going to be a writer.' Get on with it. Write, about
whatever you fancy. The more you do it, the better you'll get.
3. Show what you've done to someone whose opinion of your work you would respect - Mum, Dad, other relations, your teacher. Listen to their comments or criticisms: don't get upset by them, think about them.
Lying in hospital (in Liverpool) after having been badly wounded in Italy in 1944 and
having been brought back by ship and looking up to see my wife (whom I hadn't seen for
eighteen months) coming in through the door of the ward.
Favourite place in the world and why?
My cottage (which was built, we think, in about 1635) in the little village where we live,
between Bath and Bristol. It's very small, and covered in Virginia creeper, and it has
tremendously thick walls, so that it's cool in summer and warm in winter. In the larger of the two bedrooms, my wife and I sleep in the bed in which I was born; my family home is only three and a bit miles from me, as the crow flies.
What are your hobbies?
Writing books for children. Sitting in the garden on summer evenings with a nice drink.
Talking to my dogs. Washing up. You'll never catch me buying a dish-washer, it would take
all the fun out of it.
If you hadn't been a writer, what do you think you would have been?
Find Books by Dick King-Smith
A farmer still, as I was for twenty years, till I ran out of money. I'm glad I'm not now, I'm too blooming old to be humping sacks of corn or pitching bales up on to a wagon; and I
shouldn't like to go back to milking cows twice a day for 365 days of the year. I wish I still had some pigs, though.
Children's Author of the Year
Hon. M.Litt. (Bristol)
Hon. MA (Bath)