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Marcia Williams

As a child

Marcia Williams’ mother was a writer and her father was a playwright and theatre director. She spent the early part of her life in Canton, Hong Kong, Nigeria and the Middle East with her mother and diplomat stepfather. She loved books from an early age and remembers being read to almost every night. “I would often be scared, especially by fairy tales, but I never wanted the stories to end.” She went to boarding school in Sussex, from where she sent weekly illustrated letters to her parents overseas.

As an adult

Marcia didn’t receive any formal art training. She calls herself "an obsessive illustrator" and says, "I’ve just always done it. I never consciously thought: that’s what I want to do.” She had a number of jobs, including nursery teacher, which is when she developed her taste for story-telling to young children; “I learnt what they found accessible and what they enjoyed.” Giving up teaching to paint, she studied watercolour at Richmond College and held some successful local exhibitions before a friend suggested that she took her work to show Walker Books. Marcia also has an MA in Children’s Literature. She lives in London and has two grown-up children and three grandchildren, one extra-large dog and a cat.

As an artist

Marcia has written and illustrated numerous books since The First Christmas was published in 1987. Many of these have been retellings of classic stories, illustrated in her distinctive cartoon-strip style. She has also applied her characteristic storytelling to history, with award-winning books about the World Wars (Archie’s War and My Secret War Diary by Flossie Albright), Greek Myths and The Stone Age. She works in watercolours, which, she says, “are just unreliable enough to be interesting”. She has retold many of Shakespeare’s plays and taken to the boards herself to play the Bard in a production based on her books, Mr William Shakespeare’s Plays, and Bravo, Mr William Shakespeare! – culminating in a performance in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Things you didn't know about Marcia Williams

  1. She has a dog, Jensen, who is bigger than a Shetland pony.
  2. When she was at school, her nickname was “Mars Bar”.
  3. Her nickname now is “Dottie”.
  4. Her favourite word is chocolate.
  5. Her favourite colour is black.
  6. She once sat on the ceiling of her bedroom.
  7. She hates boiled swede.
  8. She loves a good joke and a good hug.
  9. She believes in fairies, and snow at Christmas.
  10. She loves the smell of toast, fresh coffee, babies and new books.

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