Search - List of Books by Robert Westall
Robert Atkinson Westall (7 October 1929, North Shields – 15 April 1993, Warrington hospital) is the author of many books, mostly fiction for children, though also for adults, and non-fiction. Many of his novels while supposedly aimed at a teenage audience deal with many complex, dark and in many ways adult themes. Westall's novel The Wheatstone Pond, adapted for BBC Radio 4 in 2002, is particularly black in parts and is, in this manner, entirely indistinguishable from an adult novel. His children's fiction includes The Machine Gunners (1975), set during the Second World War, where a group of children living in North Shields, England try to retrieve a machine gun from the turret of a felled German aircraft. It was his first novel for children, winning the Carnegie Medal; it was made into a BBC television serial in 1983. In its sequel, Fathom Five (1979), many of the same characters believe there to be a German spy in their home town of Garmouth. He won the Carnegie Medal again in 1982 for The Scarecrows, the Smarties prize in 1989 for Blitzcat and the Guardian Award in 1991 for The Kingdom by the Sea.
Total Books: 289
Westall's work can be roughly divided between the World War II tale, "school stories" and tales of the supernatural. Indeed, many think that his ghost stories are the finest since M. R. James, but Westall was especially adept at combining genres and merged all three themes effortlessly. His characters of any age are often blessed with strength of will and purpose that is the ultimate hallmark of his stories. While Westall's novels, for the most part, touch upon the supernatural, they tend to avoid the realms of fantasy. The fantastic, when used by Westall, is a device used within a story rather than the sole purpose of a story. The Devil on the Road is a particularly good example of Westall's sophistication and subtlety when dealing with the supernatural and of his ability to tell a story which is both contemplative and entirely gripping. The science fiction novel Futuretrack Five is similarly compelling. Westall creates a dystopian future as cutting and insightful as Orwell's. The dystopia of Futuretrack Five however, while in places bleak, is more bittersweet than despairing.
Robert Westall was born in North Shields, in 1929, and grew up there on Tyneside during the Second World War; wartime Tyneside is the setting for many of his novels, for which his own life was a great source and inspiration. After studying Fine Art at Durham University, then Sculpture at the Slade School of Art in London, he became an art teacher in Northern schools, including Sir John Deane's Grammar School, (now Sir John Deane's College), while also working as a journalist, dealing in antiques and serving as a branch director of Samaritans. In 1985, he retired in order to concentrate on his writing.
At the time of his death, he lived with his partner Lindy McKinnel at 1 Woodland Avenue in the village of Lymm in Cheshire. Previously he had lived at 20 Winnington Lane, Northwich, and had run Magpie Antiques, Church Street, Davenham.As a journalist he wrote for Cheshire Life, the Northwich Chronicle and the Warrington Guardian. A memorial service was held on September 29, 1993, at nearby All Saints' Church, Thelwall, Warrington. Tributes were paid by former teaching colleagues and Miriam Hodgson, editorial director (fiction) Reed Children's Books.
A blue plaque was placed on Westall's birthplace, 7 Vicarage Street, North Shields, on Tyneside, the following year. There is also a Westall Walk, which takes fans around locations used by the world famous children's writer in his stories.
An interesting profile can be found at www.bookengine.blogspot.com, a blog about children's writers and children's fiction.
Westall's work has caught the imagination of the Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. In October 2006 A Trip to Tynemouth by Miyazaki was published in Japan. Miyazaki based the story on, "Blackham's Wimpy", first published in Westall's short story collection Break of Dark. The rival RAF crews in the story fly Vickers Wellington bombers. The nickname comes from J. Wellington Wimpy in the Popeye cartoons.