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Helen Cresswell Bibliography Examples

Helen started writing at the tender age of six years old. At that time her primary interest was in poetry. She went on to become an author of wonderful stories for children, such as The Bongleweed and The Piemakers.

Helen also wrote many television scripts, including Five Children and It, The Demon Headmaster and Lizzie Dripping.



Sonya-by-the-shore (1960)
The White Sea Horse (1964)
Pietro and the Mule (1965)
Where the Wind Blows (1966)
A day on Big O (1967)
The Piemakers (1967)
A Tide for the Captain (1967)
Barge Children (1968)
Rug is a Bear (1968)
Rug Plays Tricks (1968)
The Sea Piper (1968)
The Signposters (1968)
House for Jones (1969)
The Night Watchmen (1969)
Rug and a Picnic (1969)
Rug Plays Ball (1969)
The Outlanders (1970)
Rainbow Pavement (1970)
The Wilkses (1970)
Bird Fancier (1971)
Weather Cat (1971)
At the Stroke of Midnight (1971)
Up the Pier (1971)
Arc-en-ciel (1972)
Jane's Policeman (1972)
Blue Birds Over Pit Row (1972)
Roof Fall (1972)
The Beachcombers (1972)
Long Day (1972)
Short Back and Sides (1972)
The Bower Birds (1973)
The Beetle Hunt (1973)
The Bongleweed (1973)
The Key (1973)
The Trap (1973)
Cheap Day Return (1974)
Shady Deal (1974)
A Game of Catch (1975)
Butterfly Chase (1975)
The Winter of the Birds (1975)
Donkey Days (1977)
Awful Jack (1977)
The Flyaway Kite (1979)
My Aunt Polly (1979)
Nearly Goodbye (1980)
Penny for the Guy (1980)
My Aunt Polly by the Sea (1980)
Kingdom of Riches (1981)
Dear Shrink (1982)
Ellie and the Hagwitch (1984)
Greedy Alice (1986)
Whodunnit? (1986)
Time Out (1987)
Dragon Ride (1987)
Moondial (1987)
Trouble (1987)
The Story of Grace Darling (1988)
Rosie and the Boredom Eater (1989)
Hokey Pokey Did It! (1989)
Almost Goodbye, Guzzler (1990)
Meet Posy Bates (1990)
The Secret World of Polly Flint (1991)
The Return of the Psammead (1992)
The Watchers (1993)
Polly Thumb (1994)
Birdspell (1995)
Little Sea Horse (1995)
Stonestruck (1995)
Mister Maggs (1996)
Bag of Bones (1997)
The Little Sea Pony (1997)
Sophie and the Sea Wolf (1997)
The Phoenix and the Carpet (1997)
Garlunk (1998)
The Little Grey Donkey (1998)
Snatchers (1998)
Rumpelstiltskin (2004)



The White Sea Horse and Other Sea Magic (1972)
Silver Jackanory (1991) (with Joan Aiken, Joan Eadington, Dick King-Smith, Robert Leeson and Tony Robinson)
Stories for 6-Year-Olds (1997) (with Scoular Anderson, Ruth Craft, Penelope Lively, Gareth Owen and Shoo Rayner)
Out of This World (2000) (with David Almond, Roald Dahl, Jenny Nimmo, Andrew Norris, Philip Ridley, J K Rowling, Robert Swindells, Kate Thompson and Kaye Umansky)
We're Having a Party! (2013) (with Anne Fine, Hilary McKay, Jan Marks, Susan Price, Robert Swindells and Jacqueline Wilson)


Picture Books

John's First Fish (1970)


Helen Cresswell, who has died aged 71, was one of Britain's most prolific children's writers, creating memorable and often funny characters in books and television dramas for more than 45 years. Cresswell was passionate about her role, insisting that children "deserve the best" in novels, and in television adaptations and series created specially for them, as well as introductions to the classics.

Her popular impact was all the greater for having diversified into writing for television, in 1960, with a script for what was then called Jackanory Playhouse, bringing simple storytelling to BBC children's TV. She went on to become part of what was a lengthy golden age of children's television drama, as well as writing more than 100 books. Often script and book came together.

Cresswell grew up in Nottingham and went to Nottingham high school for girls. A defining period of her childhood was a year spent in hospital with spinal problems when she was 12. She wrote and read voraciously and was taught Greek by a cleric - it was her mother's idea, in order to provide her with intellectual stimulus.

After university at King's College London, where she studied English literature, she worked briefly as a teacher, a literary assistant and a fashion buyer until her first children's book, Sonya-by-the-Shore, in 1960. Her success with young readers - a surprise to Cresswell, who saw herself as a poet rather than an author - was cemented in 1967 with critical acclaim for The Piemakers.

It is set in an idyllic rural English past, and tells the story of the Roller family of Danby Dale, who win a prize of one hundred guineas from the king for making the biggest pie ever baked - enough to feed the 2,000 gawpers gathered to watch the feat. This was followed by one of Cresswell's most popular inventions, Lizzie Dripping, in 1973. Lizzie is a loner who creates a fantasy world involving her best friend, a witch, who sits on a flat churchyard gravestone, knitting. There were six Lizzie Dripping books, and an Omnibus which appeared in 1994. The stories were adapted for two popular BBC TV series, outrating Blue Peter, to Cresswell's pleasure, between 1973 and 1975.

As visitors to Cresswell's home, a Georgian farmhouse in the tiny village of Eakring, Nottinghamshire (where she was a generous host), quickly found out, she drew her inspiration for Lizzie, and many more stories, from fantasies developing out of everyday life, a passion for literature and from motherhood.

Her home was next to a churchyard, where there was indeed a flat gravestone - ideal for a witch to rest on. At Cresswell's insistence the TV series were filmed there, with her young daughter making a guest appearance.

Her sure touch for TV drama was reconfirmed in 1995, when she penned a vivid adaptation of the Gillian Cross book The Demon Headmaster in which a scary, controlling teacher hypnotises his pupils - it sent many young viewers cowering behind the sofa.

She dramatised, with great sensitivity, E Nesbit's Five Children & It, and played a role in reviving Enid Blyton's Famous Five adventure stories for TV, ensuring that the scripts kept the original 1950s language of smashing, gosh and wizard. She thought, with their strong female characters, Blyton's stories still had great merit.

However, Cresswell's star waned somewhat as tastes in BBC children's drama commissioning turned to the tougher damaged heroines of Jacqueline Wilson, typified by Tracy Beaker, resident of The Dumping Ground.

Cresswell remained busy throughout several periods of illness with another long-standing cast of fictional characters in The Bagthorpe Saga, a series of novels which appeared from 1978 until 2001. They feature a rackety family, headed by Mrs Bagthorpe, addicted to too much brandy, who rolls from one disaster to another. The Bagthorpes began as a trilogy, but had expanded to 11 books by the time Cresswell was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Of her craft, she once said: "I am not an easy read, I'm old school. I have never written for the Janet and John audience." She thought Shakespeare and poetry should be read aloud to all schoolchildren, as she had done at home with her own two daughters.

Her sense of humour never deserted her; burglars stole eight classical statues, bought with royalties, from her garden while she was being treated in hospital in 2004. She remarked wryly: "So I put an inflatable snowman in Persephone's place for Christmas."

Cresswell married her childhood sweetheart, Brian Rowe, in 1962 (the marriage was dissolved in 1995) and is survived by her daughters.

· Helen Cresswell, author and television scriptwriter, born July 11 1934; died September 26 2005

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