1926 – 2007
Margaret Clark, who died of a brain tumour on 25 April, was one of the great children’s book editors of her generation. She learned her trade the tough way, working under Allen Lane at Penguin’s as assistant to Eleanor Graham, the founding editor of Puffin Story Books, and when Lane appointed Kaye Webb to succeed Graham in 1961 Margaret moved on to The Bodley Head. Great years followed when she and Judy Taylor and Jill Black created one of the finest children’s book departments ever, with Margaret taking a lead role in editing the fiction list and winning special praise for her introduction of a then innovative series of novels for ‘new adults’. She also was responsible for a satisfyingly serious-minded range of poetry selections and anthologies and a number of books, important for their time, on the subject of children’s literature. The latter may be seen as evidence of her commitment to the wider and deeper understanding of her subject which was also expressed through her advisory work within the publishing industry and her enthusiastic involvement in the promotion of children’s reading on the wider public stage. That involvement continued up to her death, her retirement giving her an opportunity to prepare texts for young readers, most notably The Best of Aesop’s Fables , memorably illustrated by Charlotte Voake in 1990.
1924 – 2007
Born in Philadelphia, Alexander was a keen reader of Arthurian tales in his youth, an enthusiasm that was further stimulated when he was stationed in Wales while serving in the U.S. army during WW2. The experience led eventually to his writing the five volumes of ‘The Chronicles of Prydain’ (1964-8), which may appear to come quite late in his career but which were among his earliest books for children. Each chronicle told of an individual, rather Tolkienian, quest but was also part of the story of the maturing of its boy-hero, Taran. The books were published both in the U.S. and the U.K., with the final one, The High King , winning the Newbery Medal. The many children’s books that followed exerted a much greater appeal to a U.S. public than to a British one and the Prydain stories remain his chief memorial in this country.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Books for Keeps is always excellent and in the May issue I found the article by Fouad Moughrabi (The Depiction of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in Contemporary Children’s Books: Part 1) a fascinating and educational piece. I just want to thank you for having the insight and courage to publish the views of a very small minority – the Palestinians. It is surprising how little their own direct views ever rise to the surface of the media, despite so many of the problems in the world news that relate back to this one, very complicated and painful issue.
I studied Arabic and worked for a Palestinian newspaper for several years. I am really looking forward to reading the next article by Professor Moughrabi.