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Jenny Nimmo Author Biography Essay

Jenny Nimmo (born 15 January 1944)[1][3] is a British author of children's books, including many fantasy and adventure novels, chapter books, and picture books. Born in England, she has lived mostly in Wales for forty years. She is probably best known for two series of fantasy novels: The Magician Trilogy (1986–1989), contemporary stories rooted in Welsh myth, and Children of the Red King (2002–2010), featuring Charlie Bone and other schoolchildren endowed with magical powers.

The Snow Spider, first of the Magician books, won the second annual Nestlé Smarties Book Prize[a] and the 1987 Tir na n-Og Award as the year's best originally English-language book with an "authentic Welsh background". The Stone Mouse was highly commended for the 1993 Carnegie Medal[4][b] and several others of her books have been well received or shortlisted for children's book awards.


Jenny Nimmo was born in Windsor, England.[2][5] She was an only child, and her father died when she was five. She was a voracious reader as a child, which led her to write her own stories to share with friends.[6]

After working for a time in theatre, Nimmo spent several years with the BBC, partly on adapting other writers' stories for television, including 40 episodes (eight "stories") for Jackanory readings.[7] Her first book, The Bronze Trumpeter, began life as a television script.[6] It was published by Angus & Robertson in January 1975.[8]

That year, Nimmo married David Wynn Millward, a Welsh artist and illustrator. Their two daughters and one son were born between 1975 and 1980. She currently lives in Wales, sharing her time between writing and helping her husband with a summer art school.

Millward is the writer or illustrator of a few published books himself, including four collaborations with Nimmo (1994–2000, marked ‡ below).[9] Nimmo and their younger daughter Gwen Millward have collaborated on one picture book written by Jenny and illustrated by Gwen, The Beasties (Egmont UK, 2010).[10] Gwen's first published book as both writer and illustrator was Bear and Bird (Egmont, September 2012).[11][12]


Charlie Bone and the Red King[edit]

Her best-known work may be Children of the Red King, also known as the Charlie Bone series or Red King series, in which Charlie Bone's magical talent embroils him in the sinister intrigues of his new school. As of 2006[update], Charlie Bone titles had been published in nine foreign-language editions and translations into eleven other languages were in progress.[13][c] Originally it was the Red King Quintet after which Nimmo contracted for a new trilogy.[14] The story climaxes in the fifth book and again in the eighth. Recently there is a new Red King series.[15]



Short stories[edit]

  • "Centuries of Stories"[16]
  • "Sisters"
  • "Take Your Knee Off My Heart"
  • "The Animals' Bedtime Story"
  • "Your Late Dad"

Picture books[edit]

  • The Bears Will Get You (1990)[16]
  • The Starlight Cloak (1990)
  • The Witches and the Singing Mice (1993)
  • Gwion and the Witch (Gwasg Gomer Legends from Wales, 1996)
  • Branwen (Gomer Legends from Wales, 1997)
  • Esmeralda and the Children Next Door (1999)
  • The Strongest Girl in the World (2001)
  • Something Wonderful (2001)
  • Pig on a Swing (2003)
  • The Beasties (2010), illustrated by Nimmo's daughter Gwen Millward[10]

Chapter books[edit]

Box Boys
  • The Box Boys and the Bonfire Cat (1999)
  • The Box Boys and the Dog in the Mist (1999)
  • The Box Boys and the Fairground Ride (1999)
  • The Box Boys and the Magic Shell (1999)
  • Delilah and the Dogspell (1991)
  • Delilah and the Dishwasher Dogs (1993)
  • Delilah Alone (1995)
Other illustrated books[16]
  • Tatty Apple (1984)
  • The Red Secret (1989)
  • Jupiter Boots (1990)
  • The Stone Mouse (1993)
  • The Breadwitch (1993)
  • Wilfred's Wolf (1994) ‡
  • Ronnie and the Giant Millipede (1995)
  • Granny Grimm's Gruesome Glasses (1995) ‡
  • The Witch's Tears (1996)
  • The Alien on the 99th Floor (1996)
  • Hot Dog, Cool Cat (1997) ‡
  • Seth and the Strangers (1997)
  • The Owl Tree (1997)
  • The Dragon's Child (1997)
  • The Dog Star (1999)
  • Toby in the Dark (1999)
  • Ill Will, Well Nell (2000) ‡
  • The Bodigulpa (2001)
  • Tom and the Pterosaur (2001)
  • Beak and Whisker (2002)
  • Matty Mouse (2003)
  • The Night of the Unicorn (2003)
  • Invisible Vinnie (2003)


Children of the Red King

Main article: Children of the Red King

There are eight books in the series, all first published by Egmont Press in British trade paperback editions with cover art by David Wyatt.[15]

  1. Midnight for Charlie Bone (2002)
  2. The Time Twister (2003)
  3. The Blue Boa (2004)
  4. The Castle of Mirrors (2005)
  5. Charlie Bone and the Hidden King (2006)
  6. Charlie Bone and the Wilderness Wolf (2007)
  7. Charlie Bone and the Shadow of Badlock (2008)
  8. Charlie Bone and the Red Knight (2009)

Five volumes have variant titles in the United States.[15]

Chronicles of the Red King
  1. The Secret Kingdom (2011)
  2. The Stones of Ravenglass (2012)
  3. Leopards' Gold (Egmont, August 2013, ISBN 978-1-4052-5734-3)[15]
The Magician Trilogy

Main article: The Magician Trilogy

In Britain this series has been published in one volume entitled The Snow Spider Trilogy.[8]

  1. The Snow Spider (1986)
  2. Emlyn's Moon (1987); first US title, Orchard of the Crescent Moon[8]
  3. The Chestnut Soldier (1989)
Other novels[16]
  • The Bronze Trumpeter (Angus & Robertson, 1975)
  • Ultramarine (1990)
  • Rainbow and Mr Zed (1992), sequel to Ultramarine
  • Griffin's Castle (1994)
  • The Rinaldi Ring (1999)
  • Milo's Wolves (2001)

‡ Four 55- to 64-page books are illustrated by Nimmo's husband David Wynn Millward (1994 to 2000).[9]


The Snow Spider and its sequels were adapted for television by the screenwriter Julia Jones, as three miniseries that HTV aired 1989 to 1991. The series introduced Osian Roberts as Gwyn Griffiths with Siân Phillips as grandmother Nain Griffiths, Robert Blythe and Sharon Morgan as his parents, and Gareth Thomas as Mr. Llewellyn.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^For two years there was a single Nestlé Prize for children's books. Three age categories were introduced for 1987 publications and retained as long as the prize continued. Nimmo and The Owl Tree won the 1997 prize in category 6 to 8 years, the middle age group also called "younger readers". By that time there was no overall prize.
  2. ^Today there are usually eight books on the Carnegie shortlist. According to CCSU some runners up through 2002 were Commended (from 1954) or Highly Commended (from 1966). The latter distinction became approximately annual in 1979; there were 29 highly commended books in 24 years including Nimmo and one other in 1993.
  3. ^"Jenny's Books" (copyright date 2006) lists forthcoming languages of translation Greek, Portuguese, Dutch, Serbian, Croatian, Norwegian, Vietnamese, Thai, Indonesian, Turkish and Romanian. Meanwhile it displays book covers for three to five volumes in each of nine foreign languages alongside those for the first six volumes in the British and American editions; the sixth was first published in 2007.


External links[edit]

Jenny Nimmo lives in a converted watermill in Wales. Her husband, David, is a painter and print-maker, and all three of her children speak Welsh fluently. She finds Wales, a land of legends, a very inspiring place to live.

For as long as she can remember, Jenny has loved books. At boarding school, reading was her way to overcome loneliness or boredom. However, she is aware that not everyone finds reading comes easily, and feels passionately that every child should have all the help they need, and access to as many books as they want.

In 1986 her book, The Snow Spider, won the Smarties Grand Prix, and in 1987 it was awarded the Tir na n-Og by the Welsh Arts Council. She wrote the sequels, Emlyn's Moon and The Chestnut Soldier, because she was unable to let go of the characters in The Snow Spider, and needed to find out what would become of them. She enjoys writing about magic because it is inexplicable and unpredictable, and anything can happen. The Rinaldi Ring, was chosen as Guardian Book of the Week and was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and received a commendation.

Jenny's latest books are part of the very successful Children of The Red King series. There are already seven books to enjoy, Midnight For Charlie Bone, The Time Twister (winner of Askew's Spotlight Award) The Blue Boa, The Castle of Mirrors, The Hidden King and The Wilderness Wolf, Charlie Bone and The Shadow of Badlock. The series will conclude in autumn 2009 with the eighth book.

Find out more about Charlie Bone at

Titles published by Egmont by Jenny Nimmo:

The Strongest Girl In The World
Hot Dog, Cool Cat
Ill Will, Well Nell

Delilah and the Dogspell
Delilah and the Dishwasher Dogs
Delilah Alone
Seth and the Strangers

Tatty Apple
The Snow Spider
The Chestnut Soldier
Emlyn's Moon
The Bronze Trumpeter
Griffin's Castle

Milo's Wolves
The Rinaldi Ring

Telling Tales Series
Jenny Nimmo by Wendy Cooling

The Children of the Red King Series
Midnight for Charlie Bone
The Time Twister
The Blue Boa
The Castle of Mirrors
Charlie Bone and the Hidden King
Charlie Bone and the Wilderness Wolf
Charlie Bone and the Shadow of Badlock (Sept 08)