Saying goodbye to Eva and Hazel

I was sad to learn two days ago that Hazel Townson has died, and only a day later that Eva Ibbotson died on Wednesday this week.

With Hazel being a local children’s author I can’t gauge how well known or not she was in the wider world, or even further afield in Britain. She was tireless in doing school events, and I witnessed her appeal to young children at first hand when Daughter required every single one of the books available to buy when Hazel came to her school. I remember it was this time of year, because Hazel signed a book saying Happy Birthday, which made it even more precious.

More recently Hazel gave up her work with the Lancashire Book of the Year, handing over the task of overseeing everything to Adèle Geras.

Eva Ibbotson was such a special author for so many. Her name always came up whenever authors expressed admiration for a colleague. But I never needed to hear that, because reading her Journey to the River Sea was enough to convince me I’d found a real star.

As another foreigner I suppose I was particularly happy to find someone who could write so well in another language, while retaining that different outlook on both Britain and Europe. It was good to read novels set in Europe as though it wasn’t abroad.

I’ve been a little slow in working my way through Eva’s books, and her recent shortlisted novel for the Guardian prize is high on my tbr list. The Secret of Platform 13 was another one that waited for my attention for far too long. But at least this way I know I have a few to keep me going.

I did nurse a secret dream to interview Eva, but felt I could never hope to improve on Dina Rabinovitch’s chat with her in 2004. I have to admit I would have quite liked for Eva to win the Guardian prize, if it’s OK now to show favouritism.

Which Witch? This is the Bookwitch saying thank you, and goodbye.

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7 responses to “Saying goodbye to Eva and Hazel

  1. Living in the North, I met Hazel at events a few times. She was always so positive, practical and warm, and was still enthusiastic about meeting and speaking to children after many years of school visiting.

    Thank you for the link to the Dina Rabinovitch chat, Bookwitch. It feels like a time for hearing Eva Ibbotson’s voice again.

    Amanda Craig, on FB, reported that Eva “died in her sleep at 85, after correcting the proofs of her last book, to be published next May. A true professional.” What a positive way to go!

  2. I was so sorry to hear that Eva Ibbotson is gone. I haven’t read Hazel’s books but now I will. Thank you for this.

  3. I do enjoy Eva Ibbotson’s books: I’ve just finished ”The Ogre of Oglethorpe” and it left me feeling really contented. Some books are special because you’re absolutely glad you read them, aren’t they?

  4. Omigosh Eva Ibbotson is dead?
    I didnt know she was 85, I just presumed she was middle-aged, and now that I know she’s dead I’m really sad. She was a great author, and her books (especially The star of Kazan) are soooooo good and make you feel like you dont want to put them down.

  5. Yeah, you sort of feel that a ‘really ancient’ author would be noticeable, somehow. And Eva wrote in such a young (or at least not too dreadfully old) style. That’s why I hoped she might win the Guardian prize ‘before it was too late’, which is silly as anyone can die at any time.

  6. I didn’t know Hazel Townson’s books but she sounds like a great woman and a great writer; and I loved Eva Ibbotson’s books and had huge admiration for her, mainly because everyone always spoke so warmly of her. Children’s writing has changed so much over the years, that to keep apace with it, and change with it while still retaining the heart of her writing, is a great achievement.

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