Author in Focus - Julia Donaldson
We explore the life and career of one of the UK's most successful authors and children's Laureate.
A Creative Childhood
Julia Donaldson grew up in London in the 1960s, living in a terraced Victorian house with her parents, grandmother, uncle and auntie and sister. Julia and her sister would often be found writing shows and choreographing ballets together which would help steer her creativity in her later years.
At University, Julia studied Drama and French and it was there that she met a guitar playing medic, Malcolm whom she later married.
Together they used to busk on the streets of Bristol, writing songs about different countries and cultural differences which she recalls as a fun time of her life.
Julia‘s Early Career
Her career began with singing and songwriting initially, for children's television shows including a role at the BBC working on shows such a Playdays. Julia also wrote 'grown-up' songs, regularly performing them at folk clubs as well as on the radio.
It wasn’t until 1993, that one of her TV songs, was commissioned to be published as a book. It was during this time, that illustrator Axel Scheffler was recommended to Julia to work alongside her on the book called A Squash and a Squeeze.
A Squash and a Squeeze
Her breakthrough moment happened in 1999 with her next book - The Gruffalo. A book about a protagonist Mouse who strolls through the deep, dark wood. Encountering various carnivores along his way, who want to eat him up, the quick-witted, brave Mouse outsmarts the Owl, Fox and Snake by convincing the animals that he's on his way to meet the Gruffalo for tea.
An Honorary Mention
The story was a great success and has since enjoyed over 17 million book sales catapulting Donaldson to to being one of the UK's best selling children's authors, earning her Children's Laureate as well as an MBE for services to literature.
Receiving her MBE for Services to Literature
She continues to inspire young readers by performing with husband Malcolm, when they can, at theatres and festivals.
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