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Ann Turnbull

As a child

Ann Turnbull grew up in Bexleyheath, Kent. She loved books and started writing stories at the age of six. She and her sister Linda spent hours playing make-believe games: “In the garden we’d pretend to be pirates, or mermaids, or Robin Hood and his men; indoors we played under the dining-room table with paper dolls or toy knights in armour. We also invented imaginary countries and wrote stories about the people in them.” Ann was a shy child and never enjoyed school, though she says it became more bearable by her teens. She failed the 11-plus, but won a place at a technical school, where she took GCEs and learnt shorthand and typing. Her parents bought her a second-hand typewriter and she used this to make her stories look more professional.

As an adult

Ann’s first job, at seventeen, was as a shorthand-typist in the publicity department of the National Union of Teachers. She worked as a secretary for eleven years, mostly for solicitors – though there was also a stint at the London headquarters of Youth CND. Later she began a teacher-training course, but dropped out of college when she realised that teaching was not for her. “I enjoyed the academic side, but couldn’t cope with a class full of children. I decided to have some of my own instead.” After her first child was born, she gave up work and became a full-time mother. “I loved being at home with young children. It was the best and most fulfilling job I ever had – and the children had an enormous influence on my writing.” Ann’s two children are now grown-up. She lives with her husband in the West Midlands.

As an artist

Ann’s first two books were fantasies, published in the mid-seventies. “Then I had a break of nine years while I looked after my children, and when I began writing again, I found I was drawn to more character-led, domestic themes – at least in my books for older children. I’ve always been interested in history, and many of my stories are set in the past or involve the mingling of past and present.” Ann has written more than thirty books and stories, including picture books, short fiction and novels.

Things you didn't know about Ann Turnbull

  1. She was nearly killed by a flying bomb when she was a baby.
  2. She spent her seventh birthday having Scarlet Fever.
  3. She can’t drive or swim, but can ride a bike.
  4. She likes spiders and rescues them from the bath.
  5. She makes bread twice a week.
  6. She once had a pet cockatiel and two rabbits.
  7. She loves walking in cool woodland and hates sitting on hot beaches.
  8. As a child she wanted to be a ballerina, a sailor, or an opera singer.
  9. In school plays she was always chosen to play a fairy.
  10. She once got the giggles in a history lesson and couldn’t stop.

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