Peter died in the early hours of 16th December 2015 – his 88th birthday. He would have been 89 today.
In many ways this year has gone very quickly, even with the ache in the hearts of those who loved him. We are still unpacking boxes of books, sorting out pictures and furniture and finding them new homes. I now have the grandfather clock from Peter’s living room, which was in the London house where we grew up. The clock keeps very good time and its slightly erratic clock strike is a constant, happy, reminder of those times; watching Dad carefully wind up the heavy weights every couple of days – which I now do.
Forgotten family photos have been emerging, too, as we steadily sort through boxes of photos and albums which have been sitting patiently waiting in storage for someone to have time to look through. We found two lovely ones this week.
I remember Peter talking about this book as he was writing it in 1976 (published 1977). He knew it was going to be an adventure (of course) and that he wanted to write about the relationship between a boy and his grandfather. He also wanted to make his central character someone with a disability (this was quite rare in those days) – and chose to see what would happen if his character was blind. He said when commenting about the book for this website that he became…:
…interested in the stylistic problem of writing a whole book without using any visual images, except when the boy himself is speaking. E.g. he can say “I’ll be seeing you,” but I can’t say “He had a bright idea.” I tried to do it so that no one would notice – the opposite, for instance, of Henry Green’s Blindness, where he uses phrases like “The purring mahogany table,” and so draws attention to the business of non-seeing. Jake’s never known anything else, and so takes it for granted.
The story itself is thrilling – and all the more so for being written at a time long before the internet and mobile phones. Read more…
“Brilliantly imaginative…wonderfully convincing.” : Observer
“A first-class detective story by any standards…excellent, gripping, intelligent and original.” :Times Literary Supplement
“A classical detective story (and a damn good one). ” : The Times
“Probably the most splendid debut in crime fiction for several years.” : Edmund Crispin, writing in the Sunday Times.
Reading the glowing reviews of Peter’s first crime novel, The Glass-sided Ants Nest (published in the UK as Skin Deep for reasons Peter explains on the book’s page), it is possibly not surprising that it went on to win the Crime Writers Association Golden Dagger Award that year (1968).
This was the introduction of Peter’s unusual detective, Superintendent Pibble of the Yard (whom Christopher Fowler, writing in The Independent described as “…an earthy investigator who does his best thinking in the pub, with ‘good bitter, fresh bread, mousetrap, bangers‘“).
There are very few recordings of Peter talking about his books publicly available. The BBC obituary programme, Last Word, included a couple of very short bursts of Peter talking about his writing but there is little else. So we were delighted to find that the BBC World Service’s Meridian programme has a 1986 recording available to listeners via BBCiPlayer, which includes both an interview with Peter and a review of the just published Tefuga. Read more…
We have set up a Just Giving Memory Page for Peter, linking a donation page for each of these three charities.
If you would like to make a donation to one or more of these charities in Peter’s memory, just click on the logo below. That will take you through to the donation page for that charity.
Many thanks from Peter’s family.
The news of Peter Dickinson’s death on 16 December 2015 was widely covered in the UK press, with obituaries in:
BBC Radio 4′s ‘Last Word‘ included a tribute to Peter and his children’s literature on 1 January 2016.
Books for Keeps published an obituary on 26 January 2016.
Many people commented via social media and by e-mail to Peter’s family.
It is with very great sadness that the death is announced of author and poet Peter Dickinson O.B.E. Peter died in Winchester on 16 December 2015 (his 88th birthday) after a brief illness. His family was by his side.
Peter Malcolm de Brissac Dickinson was born in Africa, but raised and educated in England. From 1952 to 1969 he was on the editorial staff of Punch, and then earned his living writing fiction of various kinds for adults and children. He wrote almost sixty books and has been published in 53 languages around the world.
Amongst many other awards, Peter Dickinson has been nine times short-listed for the prestigious Carnegie medal for children’s literature and was the first author to win it twice: Tulku (1979) and City of Gold (1980).
Peter Dickinson was also the first author to win the Crime Writers’ Association Golden Dagger for two consecutive novels: Skin Deep (The Glass-sided Ant’s Nest) (1968), and A Pride of Heroes (The Old English Peepshow) (1969).
His books have been nominated for and won many awards, including: The Boston-Globe Horn Book Award; The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize; The Whitbread Children’s Fiction Prize; The Michael L. Printz Award.
Peter Dickinson was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. He has also served as chairman of the Society of Authors. He was awarded an OBE for services to literature in 2009.
Peter is survived by his four children from his first marriage, six grand-children and his second wife, author Robin McKinley.
Peter’s family has suggested that rather than sending flowers, donations in Peter’s memory may be sent to his nominated charities: Save The Children; The Alzheimer’s Society; Medecins Sans Frontieres.
16 December 1927 – 16 December 2015
posted by Philippa
The discovery of a fossil of a hitherto unknown species of ichthyosaur hitting the news in the UK this week prompted me to ask Peter whether he had been following the story and whether the ichthyosaur had been the inspiration for the monster in Emma Tupper’s Diary.
My memory had let me down. The illustration in the original edition of the book was of a plesiosaur cryptoclidus oxoniensis, drawn by B. H. Newman.
Not an ichthyosaur after all but I was still interested to know what had led Peter to this ancient creature.
I’ve been trying to remember where I got the idea for Emma Tupper’s Diary, but without success. Some things are clear enough. Sixty or so years ago I stayed a couple of times with a university friend who lived on the west coast of Scotland—you could see the islands of Skye and Rhum and Eigg from the front windows against the sunset. There was rumoured to be a monster in Loch Morar, a few miles away. Read more…