To complement his retrospective look at the writing career of Peter Dickinson in Books for Keeps No. 172, Brian Alderson provides extensive background information on Dickinson’s work including a comprehensive bibliography and notes about the Dickinson website and archive. (Alderson’s note on Print-on-Demand promised in this retrospective has now grown into an article on that topic which will be published in a future edition of Books for Keeps.)
Under the care of a North American webmaster, Vonda N McIntyre, PD has an elaborate and very informative website, most easily accessed through Google. It includes pages on biography and two interlinked sections on his published children’s books. These contain brief synopses of the books, and frequently carry extensive comments by PD on the originating impulses behind many of his tales (in the earlier books these may have come from in-car storytelling sessions aimed at keeping youthful passengers amused). Because of its US compilation the site tends to be illustrated with the cover-pictures of American editions of his books and this feature, along with some of his notes, helps to emphasize an important role played by some of his US editors in the shaping of his work and its American reception. Quotes from US reviews suggest a more attentive reading of his books by reviewers there than seems to have been the case in the UK.
Here follows a chronological list of PD’s children’s books showing dates of their first publication both in England and the US and, occasionally, of significant new editions. Unless otherwise stated, London may be assumed the place of publication of the former and New York of the latter:-
The Weathermonger Gollancz, 1968; Boston: Little, Brown, 1969
[1968 also saw the publication of PD’s first novel for adults: Skin Deep Hodder & Stoughton; and Harper, as The Glass-Sided Ants’ Nest.]
Heartsease ill. Robert Hales, Gollancz, and Boston: Little, Brown, 1969
The Devil’s Children ill. Robert Hales, Gollancz, and Boston: Little, Brown, 1970
A compendious edition of the three texts was published by Gollancz in 1975 as The Changes, in which the order of the stories was reversed, placing them in the chronological sequence of the narrative, with new linking introductions to each section.
Emma Tupper’s Diary Gollancz; and ill. David Ornar White, Boston: Little, Brown, 1971
The Dancing Bear ill. David Smee, Gollancz, 1972; Boston: Little, Brown, 1973
The Iron Lion iIl. Marc Brown, Boston: Little, Brown, 1972; Allen & Unwin, 1973
A new edition ill. Pauline Baynes was published by Blackie in 1983.
The Gift ill. Gareth Floyd, Gollancz, 1973; Boston: Little, Brown, 1974
Chance, Luck, and Destiny ill. Victor Ambrus and David Smee, with other illuss., diagrams etc. reprinted from various sources. Gollancz, 1975; Boston: Little, Brown, 1976
Winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book prize for a work of non-fiction.
1975 also saw PD edit an anthology: Presto! humorous bits and pieces, Hutchinson
The Blue Hawk ill. David Smee, Gollancz; and Boston: Little, Brown, 1976
Winner of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award
Annerton Pit Gollancz; and Boston: Little, Brown, 1977
Hepzibah ill. Sue Porter, Twickenham: Eel Pie, 1978; Boston: David Godine, 1980
The Flight of Dragons, ill. Wayne Anderson, Pierrot Publications; Harper, 1979
Tulku, Gollancz; and Dutton, 1979
Winner of both the Carnegie Medal and the Whitbread Children’s Book prize.
City of Gold and other stories from the Old Testament ill. Michael Foreman, Gollancz; and Pantheon, 1980
Winner of the Carnegie Medal [and, for Michael Foreman, the illustrators’ prize at the Bologna Book Fair].
The Seventh Raven, Gollancz; and Dutton, 1981
Winner of the Phoenix Award 2001.
Healer, Gollancz, 1983; Delacorte, 1985
Giant Cold, Gollancz; and Dutton, 1984
1984 also saw PD edit an anthology of contributions by many authors and illustrators ‘in aid of the hundredth birthday of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’: Hundreds and Hundreds Harmondsworth: Puffin Books.
A Box of Nothing, ill. Ian Newsham, 1985; Delacorte, 1987
Mole Hole [a novelty book] ill. Jean Claverie, Blackie; and Bedrick, 1987
Eva, Gollancz, 1988; Delacorte, 1989
Winner of the Phoenix Award 2008.
Merlin Dreams ill. Alan Lee, Gollancz; and Delacorte, 1988
AK Gollancz, 1990; Delacorte, 1992
Winner of the Whitbread Children’s Book prize.
A Bone from a Dry Sea, Gollancz, 1992; Delacorte, 1993
Time and the Clockmice Etcetera, ill. Emma Chichester Clark, Doubleday, 1993; Delacorte, 1994
Shadow of a Hero, Gollancz; and Delacorte, 1994
Chuck and Danielle ill. Robin Lawrie, Doubleday; and ill. Kies de Kiefte, Delacorte, 1996
The Lion Tamer’s Daughter and other stories, Delacorte, 1997
Published in the UK as two separate vols: The Lion Tamer’s Daughter and Touch and Go, Macmillan, 1999
The Kin, ill. Ian Andrew, Macmillan, 1998
Published in the USA in four parts: Suth’s Story; Noli’s Story; Po’s Story; and Mana’s Story, Putnam and Grosset, 1998. The four later issued in the UK, Macmillan, 1999, but with the third vol. as Ko’s Story (as in The Kin) for fear that Po might be mistaken for a Tellytubby. A single-volume edition in the Macmillan format was published in the US by Putnam in 2003.
The Ropemaker, Macmillan; and Delacorte, 2001
Elementals: Water, [the tales shared with his wife, Robin McKinley] Oxford: David Fickling Books, 2001; as Water: tales of elemental spirits, Putnam, 2002
The Tears of the Salamander, decs. by Ian Andrew, Macmillan; and Wendy Lamb Books [a division of Random House in the US], 2003
Described as a ‘spin-off’ (owing to its length) from the ‘Fire’ section of Elementals.
The Gift Boat Macmillan; as Inside Grandad Wendy Lamb Books, 2004
Angel Isle, decs. by Ian Andrew, Macmillan, 2006; Wendy Lamb Books, 2007
A sequel to The Ropemaker.
The Weir; poems by Peter Dickinson. Alresford: Peter Dickinson Books, 2007]
Seven of the fifty-seven poems in this collection are designated as being ‘written for children’ which happily justifies the inclusion of this eightieth-birthday-volume in my list. I commend it to readers for more than that though: a volume that brings us close to the warmth and thoughtfulness of the author and displays his enviable skill in the handling of verse-forms that speak and sing with a deceptive ease, very seductive after some of the coarse or impenetrable stuff that is served up today. Self-published (thus not quite print-on-demand) it is attractively printed and is to be had from 1 Arlebury Park Mews, Alresford, Hants. S0 24 9ER – an address celebrated in the final Palinode:
Surely the quack must yearn just once to heal,
The falsest prophet hanker to reveal.
And should the poetaster* still refuse
To hope The Mews has welcomed in the Muse
3) the archive
In 2004 Peter Dickinson gave his working archive to Seven Stories, the Centre for Children’s Books in Newcastle upon Tyne. This is among the largest and most generous of donations received by the Centre and occupies some forty archive boxes containing mss. for some thirty-nine works in various stages of completion, together with extensive correspondence relating to the progress of his publications, much with editors in the USA. Detailed catalogue records for the archive are accessible online via the Seven Stories website: www.sevenstories.org.uk/collection . Research enquiries and requests to access the archive should be addressed in the first instance to: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0191 495 2707 to speak to a member of the Seven Stories Collection Team.
Brian Alderson is a former Children’s Books Editor for The Times and an historian of children’s literature.