Nina Bawden

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Nina Bawden
Born (1925-01-19)19 January 1925
Ilford, Essex, England,London,UK
Died 22 August 2012(2012-08-22) (aged 87)
London, England
Occupation Writer
Nationality British
Period 1953–2004
Genre Novels, Children's literature
Notable works
Notable awards Guardian Prize
Phoenix Award
  • Harry Bawden (1946–54)
  • Austen Kark
  • (m. 1954–2002; his death)

Nina 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 is one of a select group to have both served as a Booker judge and made the shortlist as an author.[1]


Bawden was born in 1925[2] and raised in Ilford, Essex, in "a rather nasty housing estate that [her] mother despised".[3] 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 age fourteen. She spent school holidays at a farm in Shropshire with her mother and her brothers.

She attended Somerville College, 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 died by suicide in 1981)[4] and Robert. In 1954 she married Austen Kark, a reporter who eventually rose to managing director of the BBC World Service. They had a daughter, Perdita, who died in March 2012.[5] 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 in August 2012. Her family announced her death on 22 August.[4][6]

Literary career

Some of Bawden's 55 books have been dramatised by BBC Children's television. Many have been published in translation.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9] (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.)[10][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".[11][12]

Other awards runners up
  • 1987 Shortlisted for the Booker Prize – Circles of Deceit
  • 1995 Shortlisted for the WH Smith Mind-Boggling Book AwardThe Real Plato Jones
  • 1996 Shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal – Granny the Pag[13]


  • Who Calls the Tune? (1953)
  • The Old Flamingo (1954)
  • Change Here for Babylon (1955)
  • The Solitary Child (1956)
  • Devil by the Sea (1958)
  • Just Like a Lady (1960)
  • In Honour Bound (1961)
  • The Secret Passage (1963)
  • Tortoise by Candlelight (1963)
  • The House of Secrets (1963)
  • On the Run (1964); US title, Three on the Run
  • Under the Skin (1964)
  • A Little Love, A Little Learning (1965)
  • The White Horse Gang (1966)
  • The Witch's Daughter (1966)
  • A Handful of Thieves (1967)
  • A Woman of My Age (1967)
  • The Grain of Truth (1969)
  • The Runaway Summer (1969)
  • The Birds on the Trees (1970)
  • Squib (1971)
  • Anna Apparent (1972)
  • Carrie's War (1973) —winner of the 1993 Phoenix Award[9]
  • George Beneath a Paper Moon (1974)
  • The Peppermint Pig (1975) —winner of the 1976 Guardian Prize[8]
  • Afternoon of a Good Woman (1976)
  • Solitary Child (1976)
  • Rebel on a Rock (1978)
  • Familiar Passions (1979)
  • The Robbers (1979)
  • Walking Naked (1981)
  • William Tell (1981), a picture book
  • Kept in the Dark (1982)
  • The Ice House (1983)
  • Saint Francis of Assisi (1983), a picture book
  • The Finding (1985)
  • On the Edge (1985)
  • Princess Alice (1986)
  • Circles of Deceit (1987)
  • Henry (1988)
  • Keeping Henry (1988)
  • The Outside Child (1989)
  • Family Money (1991)
  • Humbug (1992)
  • The Real Plato Jones (1993)
  • In My Own Time: Almost an Autobiography (1994)
  • Granny the Pag (1995)
  • A Nice Change (1997)
  • Off the Road (1998)
  • The Ruffian on the Stair (2001)
  • Dear Austen (2005)

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.


  1. "Weekly Roundup: Nina Bawden, author of Carrie's War, dies". 24 August 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Carrie's War: Author Nina Bawden". Masterpiece Theatre (PBS). 2014. Retrieved 28 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Rustin, Susanna (22 November 2003). "Nina's wars". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 12 April 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Author Nina Bawden dies aged 87". BBC News online. 22 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Perdita Kark obituary, The Times, 15 March 2012
  6. "Nina Bawden" (obituary). The Telegraph. 22 August 2012.
  7. "Bawden, Nina". WorldCat. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Guardian children's fiction prize relaunched: Entry details and list of past winners". 12 March 2001. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Phoenix Award Brochure 2012". Children's Literature Association. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
    See also the current homepage, "Phoenix Award".
  10. "Carnegie Medal Award". 2007(?). Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  11. "Golden Pen Award, official website". English PEN. Retrieved 3 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Sherna Noah (22 August 2012). "Carrie's War author Nina Bawden dies". The Independent. Retrieved 3 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Brennan, Geraldine (3 May 1996). "Eyes on the prizes". Times Educational Supplement. Retrieved 6 August 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links