Kevin John William Crossley-Holland (born 7 February 1941) is an English translator, children's author and poet. His best known work may now be the Arthur trilogy, published around age sixty (2000–2003), for which he won the Guardian Prize and other recognition.
Crossley-Holland and his 1985 novella Storm won the annual Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's outstanding children's book by a British author. For the 70th anniversary of the Medal in 2007 it was named one of the top ten winning works, selected by a panel to compose the ballot for a public election of the all-time favourite.
Life and career
Born in Mursley, north Buckinghamshire, Crossley-Holland grew up in Whiteleaf, a small village in the Chilterns. He attended Bryanston School in Dorset, followed by St Edmund Hall at Oxford University, where after failing his first exams he discovered a passion for Anglo-Saxon literature. After graduating he became the Gregory Fellow in Poetry at the University of Leeds and, from 1972 to 1977, he lectured in Anglo-Saxon for the Tufts University London program. He also taught in the midwestern United States as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at St. Olaf College, as well as Endowed Chair in the Humanities and Fine Arts at the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota).
His writing career began when he began working as a poetry, fiction and children’s book editor for Macmillan Publishers. He later become editorial director at Victor Gollancz, Ltd.. He is known for poetry, novels, story collections, and translations, including three editions of the Anglo-Saxon classic Beowulf (1968, 1973, 1999). Some of his books, including the Arthur trilogy, reinterpret medieval legends. He also writes definitive collections of Norse myths (The Penguin Book of Norse Myths) and British and Irish folk tales (The Magic Lands: Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland). Bracelet of Bones, the first of his Viking sagas, was published in 2011, as was The Mountains of Norfolk: New and Selected Poems. He has edited and translated the riddles included in the Anglo-Saxon Exeter Book.
Crossley-Holland has also written the libretti for two operas by Nicola LeFanu, The Green Children (1966) and The Wildman (1976), and for a chamber opera about Nelson, Haydn and Emma Hamilton. He has collaborated several times with composers Sir Arthur Bliss and William Mathias and he has written a stage play, The Wuffings (1999).
Crossley-Holland now lives on the North Norfolk coast, where he spent some of his childhood.
His autobiography, The Hidden Roads: A Memoir of Childhood, was published in 2009.
In 2012 he took up the honorary post of President of the School Library Association. Arthur trilogy
The Arthur trilogy comprises The Seeing Stone (2000), At the Crossing-Places (2001), and King of the Middle March (2003), published by Orion Children's Books in hardcover editions summing almost 1,100 pages. These have been published in 25 different languages and must be the author's best-known works.
Crossley-Holland takes a new look at the King Arthur legends, showing a medieval boy's development from a page to a squire and finally to a knight. Alongside this advance, the medieval Arthur faces issues such as his prospective betrothal and inheritance. Meanwhile, he has the “Seeing Stone” through which observes the remarkably parallel early life of King Arthur, several hundred years before.
A follow-up to the trilogy was published in 2006, Gatty's Tale. Awards
Crossley-Holland garnered the 1985 Carnegie Medal and 2007 “Anniversary Top Ten” recognition from the British librarians for Storm (Heinemann, 1984).
For Arthur: The Seeing Stone he won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, a once-in-a-lifetime award judged by a panel of British children's writers and the Tir na n-Og Award from the Welsh Books Council. The two annual awards for young people's books recognise one fiction published in the U.K., written by an author who has not yet won it, and the best English-language book with “authentic Welsh background”. The Seeing Stone was also bronze runner up for the Smarties Prize in ages category 9–11 years and it made the 2000 Whitbread Awards shortlist.
Gatty's Tale was one of seven books on the 2008 Carnegie shortlist.