Getting to know me

Published on: 03 August 2014 Author: Philip Ardagh

The wise, handsome and hilarious (or so he told us) author Philip Ardagh, who's work includes the Norman the Norman and The Grunts series of books, became our eleventh Writer in Residence back in 2014. In this blog Philip introduced himself and his beard, as well as letting us know what to expect from his time as Writer in Residence.

Philip Ardagh


I have the honour of being Book Trust's eleventh Writer in Residence which means, numerically, at least, I'm the first palindromic holder of the title. Whichever way you look at it, 11 is 11, so I'm angling for a special hat to mark the occasion or, failing that, the cash equivalent.

Another thing about being the eleventh incumbent, is that I get to look at the clutter left behind by the previous ten writers in the actual residence. I've no doubt that the half-eaten tub of penguin food belonged to Polly Dunbar.

The inflatable human must have been Matt Haig's and the bright pink fur-ball can only have been Laura Dockrill's. As for the penny-farthing chained to the railings outside? I rather think that must belong to the previous incumbent, Chris Riddell, who has also doodled all over the walls. Some of his scribbles appear to have been written in dripping red strawberry juice. I wonder what the repeated motif KILLPHIL actually means.

But enough of the past. I'm Book Trust Writer in Residence now, and have my size 16 feet firmly under the table. And what a table. Imagine whose laptops must have graced this unblemished surface. What stories it could tell. If it could speak, perhaps it could tell me why Book Trust have felt it necessary to coat the large Narnia-like wardrobe in the corner with gun-metal grey anti-climb paint.

People who know me - the ones who somehow made it past Security - will probably expect me to use my time as Writer in Residence to promote something very close to my heart: my ribcage. No. NOT my ribcage, I meant libraries. Public libraries. And they'd be right. I will be talking about the importance of libraries to EVERYONE but particularly to children of families where books aren't available, but I'll be discussing plenty of other topics too, including writing tips.

I'll also be looking at diversity - or lack of it - in children's books. Not so much cultural diversity as the diversity of characters with physical disabilities. Shouldn't we all be able to find books peopled with people like us or the people around us?

But let's save these topics for another day. Today is all about settling into my new role with a not-so-new cheese roll. (I wonder if this was left here for me, or is a leftover from Riddell's reign.) Anyway, I'll be blogging on the Book Trust website four times a month for the next six months...

...that's - er - TWENTY FOUR blogs. That's enough blogs to have one behind each door of an advent calendar if you don't have one of those weird ones that has a door to open on Christmas Day itself. And, if you don't celebrate Christmas, you probably have NO idea what I'm talking about anyway.

Anyway, twenty-four is as many blogs as there are hours in a day.

And that's a lot of blogs.

And I'm looking forward to it. Bring it on, Book Trust! Bring it on!


PS. The day I became Book Trust's Writer in Residence - 1 August - was the same day that Book Trust announced that The Roald Dahl Funny Prize has been put on hold until 2016 (the year of Dahl's centenary), so they can make it even bigger and even better. But that means no winner for 2014 or 2015, so I've been stroking my beard about what we can do about that... Watch this space!

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Meet our latest Writer in Residence

Every six months, BookTrust appoints a new Writer in Residence to write blogs, run competitions and give us their own unique perspective on the world of children's books. Our current Writer in Residence is Rashmi Sirdeshpande.

Find out more