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Peter Dickinson, 1927-2015

peter_dickinsonOne-of-a-kind British writer Peter Dickinson died in December at age eighty-eight. His work cannot be easily categorized: a prolific author, he wrote everything from adult detective novels to speculative YA science fiction to heart-stopping adventures to intriguing almost-fantasies. The protagonists in his work for children range from an American-missionary boy who finds himself trekking through Tibet during the Boxer Rebellion (Tulku) to a blind teen who finds himself swept up in a plot by environmental terrorists to hijack a North Sea oil rig (Annerton Pit) to a human girl who finds herself transplanted into a chimp’s body (Eva). His books were wholly original, brimming with ideas, often concerned with the nature of religion and/or what makes us human — and also unfailingly compelling and masterfully plotted. Yet he did not consider himself an artist, but a craftsman: “I have a function, like the village cobbler, and that is to tell stories.”

Peter Dickinson’s 1993 Horn Book Magazine article “Masks

Horn Book Magazine reviews of select titles by Peter Dickinson

“A Defense of Rubbish” by Peter Dickinson

Martha V. Parravano About Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.



  1. Thom Barthelmess says:

    Now I know what adults mean when they say “They don’t make ’em like that anymore.”

  2. Megan Whalen Turner says:

    He was an extraordinary writer and by all accounts a lovely, lovely man. My condolences to his family.

  3. Megan Whalen Turner says:

    Very sad news. He was an extraordinary writer and by all accounts, a lovely, lovely man. Thank you for linking to his Defense of Rubbish. I read it years ago and I think it’s as important to keep in mind today as it was when it was written.

  4. Megan Whalen Turner says:

    I see that my first comment did eventually make it out of moderation. But really, I could repeat myself forever. Peter Dickinson was one of the great writers of the 20th Century.

  5. Anne Duncan says:

    His work is a treasure that remains for us to share.

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