Over the years, Peter has given several notable talks and written a number of important essays. We have collected a few of the best known and reproduced them here.
A reflection on the impact of a talk Peter gave at a conference on children’s literature at the University of Exeter in 1970. His third children’s book, The Devil’s Children, had just been published and he was about to win the Crime Writer’s Golden Dagger for the second time. At that time, he was undoubtedly regarded as one of the most exciting new voices in children’s literature. As he gave his talk, he strode across the stage, strewing each carefully crafted page behind him as he turned to the next and then, in the middle of this speech, suddenly appeared to go off at a tangent to talk about the importance of allowing children to have the freedom to read rubbishy stuff if that’s what they wanted to do. It was an electrifying performance. Peter now recalls this with more than a tinge of embarrassment but there is no doubt that his words had an impact, which resonates today as people still ask him about it.
Eva is the book about which Peter gets the most correspondence, particularly from teachers and students in the US. he has mixed feelings about his books being studied in schools. Here is a a copy of the letter he wrote in response to a Horn Book Magazine article on Eva by Professor Betty Carter (2001).
This article appeared in the spring 1991 edition of The Armchair Detective: The trials and tribulations of manor homeownership prompted this article, which was also based on a talk Peter gave at Mohonk in 1990.
The Phoenix Award is presented by The Children’s Literature Association for a children’s book that won no major award on its first publication twenty years earlier. Peter has won the Award twice.