Author of the Month
Charles Perrault - January 2016
Charles Perrault, (born Jan. 12, 1628, Paris—died May, 1703, Paris), French poet, prose writer, and storyteller, a leading member of the Académie Française. His name may not mean much too many people but his stories are well known and loved by children around the world. He is credited for laying the foundations for a new literary genre, the fairy tale, and using the well-known opening, "once upon a time" basing his stories on pre-existing folk tales.
Charles was born to a wealthy family in Paris and trained to become a lawyer. Later he worked as an adviser in the French court of Louis XIV. His fairy stories in "Mother Goose", which was published in 1697, were originally written to amuse his children after his retirement in 1695 at the age of 67. They include "Little Red Riding Hood," "The Sleeping Beauty," "Puss in Boots," and "Bluebeard," modern versions of half-forgotten folk tales, which he retold in a simpler and more entertaining style than the original folk stories..
There are a number of writers, some well known some not so, with ties to Merton. The list below is by no means definitive, but is a good place to start finding out about the literary figures and recent authors that have graced the borough.
Raymond Redvers Briggs
Raymond Redvers Briggs (born 18 January 1934), is an English illustrator, cartoonist, graphic novelist, and author who has achieved critical and popular success among adults and children. He was educated at Rutlish School and Wimbledon School of Art. He has won awards both as an author and an illustrator and written books aimed at adults as well as children's books. Some of his most well known books include ‘Father Christmas', ‘Fungus the Bogeyman', ‘The Snowman' and ‘When the Wind Blows'.
Edna O'Brien (born 15 December 1930), is an Irish novelist and short story writer whose works often revolves around the inner feelings of women and their problems in relating to men and society as a whole. She was born in Tuangraney, County Clare and moved to London in the 1950s. She used to live in Cannon Hill Lane in Merton.She wrote part of her famous ‘Country Girls' trilogy, which include ‘The Country Girls', ‘Girl with Green Eyes' and ‘Girls in Their Married Bliss', while living in Merton Park and the first chapter of her book ‘Night' is based in Wimbledon.
John Donne (1572 to 1631), an English poet, satirist, lawyer, and priest, is now considered the preeminent representative of the metaphysical poets. A Tudor poet, John was also a clergyman in Mitcham during the 16th century. In 1621, he was appointed the Dean of St Paul's Cathedral in London. He also served as a member of parliament in 1601 and in 1614.Some of his works continue to be published in such titles as ‘Complete English Poems' and ‘Poems of John Donne'.
Robert von Ranke Graves
Robert von Ranke Graves (1895 to 1985), was an English poet, translator and novelist. During his long life he produced more than 140 works. He is also known as Robert Ranke Graves and most commonly Robert Graves. He was born at 1 Lauriston Road, Wimbledon and educated at Kings College School and Rokeby Prep School. His most famous book was ‘I Claudius' and his other novels include ‘Sergeant Lamb of the Ninth' and ‘Seven days in New Crete'.
Georgette Heyer (1902 to 1974) was a British historical romance and detective fiction novelist. She lived in various addresses throughout Wimbledon during her early life including 103 Woodside (1902-6), 1 Courthope Road (c.1907-9), 11 Homefield Road (1918) and 5 Ridgway Place (1923–5). Some of her most well known books include ‘April Lady', ‘Beauvallet', ‘The Quiet Gentleman' and ‘Regency Buck'. In June 2015 Steven Fry unveiled an English Heritage Blue Plaque at her birthplace in Woodside.
Beryl Kingston (born 1931) lived in Wimbledon for a while. She has been a writer since she was seven when she started producing ‘poetry' which, according to her, was very, very bad. Beryl was evacuated to Felpham at the start of WWII. She has written many Family sagas, historical novels and modern novels but has also written poetry, plays, short stories and newspaper articles. Included among her many novels are 'Tuppenny Times', ‘Gates of Paradise', ‘Octavia' and ‘War Baby'.
Michelle Paver (born 7 September 1960) was born in Nyasaland in central Africa. Her mother was Belgian and her South African father ran a newspaper, the Nyasaland Times. Her family settled in Wimbledon, England when she was three. Educated at The Study and Wimbledon High School, she is now a British-based novelist and children's writer. She is the author of the six-book series ‘Chronicles of Ancient Darkness', which include ‘Wolf Brother', Outcast' and ‘Ghost Hunter', set in the pre-agricultural Stone Age. Her other books include ‘Dark Matter' and ‘Without Charity'.
Nigel Williams (born January 20 1948) is an English novelist, screenwriter and playwright. He was born in Cheadle, Cheshire but now lives in Putney SW15. He has some Wimbledon association and has written many related books including ‘The Wimbledon Poisoner', ‘They Came From SW19', ‘East of Wimbledon' and ‘From Wimbledon to Waco'.
Born in St Elizabeth, Jamaica, Ava was one of nine children. She qualified as a teacher and went on to study a US-based business degree before moving to the UK in 2002, to work as a teacher in Merton. She taught at Tamworth Manor High now Harris Merton, Bishopsford now Harris Morden, Mitcham Vale High and St Mark's Academy and was a parent governor at Stanford Primary where her daughter attended. Her popular inspirational book ‘Bamboo and Fern' was released in 2014. Currently living in Croydon with her family, she is a Global Business Development Manager, motivational speaker and author.
Michelle Yaa Asantewa
Michelle was born in Guyana, in 1969. She moved to the UK to be with her mother and now lives in Colliers Wood. She taught English Literature, Editing and Creative Writing at London Metropolitan University and is currently facilitating writing workshops as an Independent Scholar.
Her first novel 'Elijah' was written because of her concern with the media image of black boys and gang related violence. She wanted to explore the themes as she had personal experience of the realities and impact of them. Her poetry collection 'The Awakening and Other Poems' were self-published, Michelle accepts that this may not appeal to everyone but is sure there may be some who appreciate her unique way of writing.
Elisabeth 'Liza' Beresford MBE
Elisabeth 'Liza' Beresford, MBE (1926 to 2010) was a British author of children's books, best known for creating The Wombles. She got her inspiration for the famous Womble books while walking on Wimbledon Common with her young daughter Kate who wrongly referred to it as Wombledon Common. Some of the books featuring the Wombles include ‘Ghost of Wimbledon Common', ‘The Wandering Wombles', Tomsk to the Rescue' and ‘The Great Cake Mystery'.