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Anne Fine OBE

Sunday, 27 July 2003

Anne Fine OBE is one of the most popular and successful children's writers in Britain today. She was also the Children's Laureate between 2001 and 2003.

Anne was awarded an OBE in the Queen's birthday honours list in 2003 for services to Literature. She has also won a number of awards including the Carnegie Medal and the Publishing News' Children's Author of the Year in 1990 and 1993.

She is probably most famous for her book 'Madame Doubtfire', which was turned into a full length feature film starring the famous Hollywood actor Robin Williams as the lead character. This books deals with the issue of parental separation and divorce.

Her other books include 'Up On Cloud Nice', 'Bad Dreams', 'Goggle-Eyes', 'Bills's New Frock' and 'Flour Babies'.

Anne was born in the Midlands and was sent to school two years early, because her mother had triplets! As Anne went to school so young she could read from a very early age.

She went on to study history and politics at university and then had various jobs including teaching at a secondary school, working as a secretary and a job for Oxfam as an information officer.

Anne wrote her first book when her eldest daughter was a baby. She was trapped in her freezing flat by a snowstorm and was unable to get to the library to get a book to read so she started to write to cheer and warm herself up.

The book was 'The Summer House Loon', published in 1978. It was finished in weeks, and was by far the fastest book Anne has ever written but initially it was turned down by the publisher she sent it to.

She later entered the story into a competition run by the Guarain newspaper. Athought the book didn't win the award it was a runner-up and at the award ceremoney Anne met an agent who eventually helped her to publish her work.

Mostly, Anne writes comedy books. She says that this is because her favourite books when she was a child were comedies, Richmal Crompton's 'William' books and Anthony Buckeridge's 'Jennings' books in particular. Anne was also a great Enid Blyton fan. Not surprisingly English was Anne's favourite subject at school.

Anne has now written over twenty-five books, for all ages, even adult. She says that the books she writes for readers of ten and up take her around a year to write and hernovels for adults take around two years to write.

She doesn't use a word processor (she says she's too quick tempered) and still works as she always has: in absolute silence, hiding her work with her arms from anyone who comes in the room. Anne writes with a 2B pencil and rubs out constantly. She has a special sharpener that catches the droppings for use on trains, but can do nothing about the manky bits of rubber getting all over the trays and tables!

Anne now lives in a stone house by the side of a river in a tiny town in Country Durham. She has two daughter, two cats and a golden retriver dog.

Her advice to would-be writers is to 'read, read, read. The practice for writing (whatever teachers say!) is not writing, but reading. If you don't have a library card (and not in the teapot on the mantlepiece) you cannot be serious. Then as Philip larkin says, write the book you yourself would most like to read.'