Alan Garner spent his early childhood in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, England, and he remains associated with the area. Many of his works, including The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath, are drawn from local legends and locations.
He had long periods of ill health in childhood and was twice declared dead.
"He spent most of the first eight years of his life in a small, white sickbed....'By day, it amounted to sensory deprivation. I lay in a bedroom that was whitewashed and had cheesecloth stretched across the windows...I was so bored, I would create my own out-of-body experiences....At night, it was worse. When you're lying in the semi-darkness, and the moon is coming up, and half of you is paralysed, there is no end to the terrible things a heap of clothes can change into.'"
He attended Manchester Grammar School (where a library is named after him) and studied Classics at Oxford.
His early books were fantasy, marketed for children, although he was never comfortable with being labelled simply as a "children's writer", saying that he had no intention one way or the other about writing specifically for children.
His most recent works, Strandloper and Thursbitch, are more suited for adult readers. The Stone Book (which received the Phoenix Award in 1996) is poetic in style and inspiration. Garner pays particular attention to language, and strives to render the cadence of the Cheshire tongue in modern English. This he explains by the sense of anger he felt on reading "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight": the footnotes would not have been needed by his father. This and other aspects of his writing are the subject of Neil Philip's A Fine Anger, (Collins, 1981), which offers a detailed analysis of his work.
His collection of essays and public talks, The Voice That Thunders, contains much autobiographical material (including an account of his life with bipolar disorder), as well as critical reflection upon folklore and language, literature and education, the nature of myth and time. Garner is an accomplished public speaker.
The Owl Service (1969), a British TV series transmitted by Granada Television based on Garner's novel of the same name.
Red Shift (BBC, transmitted 17 January 1978); directed by John Mackenzie; part of the BBC's Play for Today series.
To Kill a King (1980), part of the BBC series of plays on supernatural themes, Leap in the Dark: an atmospheric story about a writer overcoming depression and writer's block. The hero's home appears to be Garner's own house.
Garner and Don Webb adapted Elidor into a children's television series for the BBC. The series consisted of six half-hour episodes starring Damian Zuk as Roland and Suzanne Shaw as Helen
The Stone Book Quartet (1979) - Collection of the four The Stone Book short stories.
Alan Garner's Book of British Fairy Tales (1984) - illustrated by Derek Collard
The Alan Garner Collection (Collins, 2005) - Slipcased collection of paperbacks: The Owl Service, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, The Moon of Gomrath, Elidor and A Bag of Moonshine.
The Old Man of Mow (1966) - A 28-page story illustrated with photographs by Roger Hill.
Feel Free (1967)
A Book of Goblins (ed) (1969)
The Breadhorse (1975) - A 30-page story illustrated by Albin Trowski.
The Stone Book (1976) - First story in The Stone Book.
Tom Fobble's Day (1977) - Second story in The Stone Book.
Granny Reardun (1977) - Third story in The Stone Book.
The Aimer Gate (1978) - Fourth story in The Stone Book.
Alan Garner's Fairy Tales of Gold (1979)
A Bag of Moonshine (1986) - A collection of 22 stories chosen from the folklore of England and Wales.
Fairytales of Gold (1989)
The Lad of the Gad (1980)
Once Upon a Time (1993)
The Well of the Wind (1998) - A 48-page story illustrated by Herve Blondon. ISBN 978-0789425195.
Essays and lectures
The Voice That Thunders (1997) - a collection of essays and lectures
Garner here reveals the commercial pressure placed upon him during the decade-long drought (at the height of the neoliberal tide) which preceded Strandloper to 'forsake "literature", and become instead a "popular" writer, cashing in on my established name by producing sequels to, and making series of, the earlier books'. Garner feared for some reason that 'making series...would render sterile the existing work, the life that produced it, and bring about my artistic and spiritual death' - on analogy perhaps with Conan Doyle's dictum that 'the ruin of every novelist who has come up has been effected by driving him into a groove' and felt unable to comply.
The Guizer: a Book of Fools (1975) - a collection of stories about fools.