Nina Bawden dies
The author was a 'gently fierce, clever, elegant, wickedly funny woman'
Nina Bawden, the author of 48 novels for adults and children, has died today aged 87.
Born in London in 1925, Bawden went on to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University in the same year as Margaret Thatcher. She published her first novel in 1953 and wrote for the rest of her life. She was best known for her children's novel Carrie's War, which was based on her experiences as a child evacuee in Wales during the Second World War.
Her adult novel, Circles of Deceit was shortlisted for the 1987 Booker Prize, while in 2010 her 1970 novel Birds on the Trees was shortlisted for the Lost Man Booker Award.
One of her last books, Dear Austen, concerned the train accident at Potter’s Bar in 2002 which killed her husband, former BBC World Service m.d., Austen Kark, and in which she was badly injured. She went on to become a courageous campaigner for rail safety.
The publisher of Bawden's adult books at Virago, Lennie Goodings, said: "Nina Bawden was a gently fierce, clever, elegant, wickedly funny woman. She wrote slim books but they were powerful and extraordinarily acute observations about what makes us human.
"I think she was especially good on what goes on behind the façade of good behaviour. She was a wonderful storyteller and she was writing to the end: with the help of her son, Robert Bawden, she finished a piece on growing up in the 1940s for a forthcoming Virago anthology just days before she died."
Bawden had three children, two of whom pre-deceased her. She died at home in north London with her family.
Three Nina Bawden classics:
Carrie and her young brother are sent to Wales as evacuees during the Second World War, where they have to stay with the cruel Mr Evans. Along the way, they meet a range of characterful people including Hepzibah Green with his exhilaratingly magical stories and odd Mister Johnny who can only communicate with animals. But Carrie does something truly awful, which has a long-lasting and shattering impact.
The Peppermint Pig
Mother sees no reason why a pig cannot be kept indoors. And the intelligent but mischievous little peppermint pig keeps Poll and Theo in high spirits, even as their family goes through terrible troubles.
Bawden writes a moving letter to her husband, Austen Kark, after he was killed in a train accident. Seven people lost their lives and a further 76, including herself, were injured in the notorious Potter's Bar crash. In this book she uses her writing as a way to come to terms with the tragedy.
Photo credit: Mark Gerson