Nina Bawden

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Nina Bawden

Nina Bawden 2003.jpg
Bawden in 2003
Born(1925-01-19)19 January 1925
Ilford, Essex, England
Died22 August 2012(2012-08-22) (aged 87)
North London, England
GenreNovels, Children's literature
Harry Bawden
(m. 1946;div. 1954)

(m. 1954;died 2002)

Nina Mary Bawden CBE, FRSL, JP (19 January 1925 22 August 2012) was an English novelist and children's writer. She was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1987 and the Lost Man Booker Prize in 2010. She was a recipient of the Golden PEN Award.



Nina Bawden was born in 1925 in Ilford, Essex, England as Nina Mary Mabey. [1] She lived in Ilford in "a rather nasty housing estate that [her] mother despised". [2] Her mother was a teacher and her father a member of the Royal Marines. She was evacuated during World War II to Aberdare, Wales, at the age of fourteen. She spent school holidays at a farm in Shropshire with her mother and brothers.

She attended Ilford County High School for Girls; Somerville College (B.A. 1946, M.A. 1951), Oxford, where she gained a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

From 1946 to 1954 Bawden was married to Harry Bawden. They had two sons, Nicholas (who took his own life in 1981) [3] and Robert. In 1954 she married Austen Kark, a reporter who eventually became managing director of the BBC World Service. They had a daughter, Perdita, who died in March 2012. [4] She also had two stepdaughters: Cathy, who lives in New Zealand, and Teresa, who lives in London. In 2002 Bawden was badly injured in the Potters Bar rail crash, in which her husband Austen Kark was killed. Her testimony about the crash, and her exploration of the management and maintenance mistakes that caused it, became a major part of David Hare's play The Permanent Way , in which she appeared as a character.

Bawden died at her home in north London on 22 August 2012. [3] [5]

Literary career

Some of Bawden's 55 books have been dramatised by BBC Children's television. Many have been published in translation. [6]

Her novels include On the Run (1964), The Witch's Daughter (1966), The Birds on the Trees (1970), Carrie's War (1973), and The Peppermint Pig (1975). For the latter she won the 1976 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, a once-in-a-lifetime book award judged by a panel of British children's writers. [7] Carrie's War won the 1993 Phoenix Award from the Children's Literature Association as the best English-language children's book that did not win a major contemporary award when it was originally published twenty years earlier. It is named for the mythical bird phoenix, which is reborn from its ashes, to suggest the book's rise from obscurity. [8] (Bawden and Carrie's War had been a commended runner up for the Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book by a British subject.) [9] [lower-alpha 1]

In 2010, Bawden and The Birds on the Trees made the shortlist for the Lost Man Booker Prize. Forty years earlier, the Booker-McConnell Prize for the year's best British novel had skipped 1970 publications. Bawden and Shirley Hazzard were the only living nominees out of the six shortlisted; the award went to J. G. Farrell for Troubles . In 2004, she was awarded the Golden PEN Award by English PEN for "a Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Literature". [10] [11]

Runner up for other awards


See also


  1. Today there are usually eight books on the Carnegie shortlist. According to CCSU, there were about 160 commendations of two kinds in 49 years from 1954 to 2002, including Bawden and two others for 1977.

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  1. "Carrie's War: Author Nina Bawden". Masterpiece Theatre (PBS). 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  2. Rustin, Susanna (22 November 2003). "Nina's wars". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 12 April 2010.
  3. 1 2 "Author Nina Bawden dies aged 87". BBC News. 22 August 2012.
  4. Perdita Kark obituary, The Times , 15 March 2012
  5. "Nina Bawden" (obituary). The Telegraph. 22 August 2012.
  6. "Bawden, Nina". WorldCat. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  7. 1 2 "Guardian children's fiction prize relaunched: Entry details and list of past winners". The Guardian 12 March 2001. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  8. 1 2 "Phoenix Award Brochure 2012" [ permanent dead link ]. Children's Literature Association. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
    See also the current homepage, "Phoenix Award" Archived 20 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine .
  9. "Carnegie Medal Award". 2007(?). Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  10. "Golden Pen Award, official website". English PEN . Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  11. "Carrie's War author Nina Bawden died on 22 August 2012" . . Archived from the original on 21 June 2022.
  12. Brennan, Geraldine (3 May 1996). "Eyes on the prizes". Times Educational Supplement. Archived from the original on 3 October 2012. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  13. "Weekly Roundup: Nina Bawden, author of Carrie's War, dies". 24 August 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2012.