British author Nina Bawden, best known for the children’s novel Carrie’s War, died on August 22 at her home in London. She was 87.
Bawden was born January 19, 1925, in Ilford, England. She graduated from Somerville College, Oxford in 1946 and was on track to become a journalist when she married her first husband H.W. Bawden and started a family.
Bawden pursued her writing ambitions and published her first book for adults, Eyes of Green, in 1953. She wrote several other adult works before trying her hand at children’s literature with The Secret Passage, released in 1963. Events and experiences from her personal life frequently informed Bawden’s various writings and The Secret Passage was said to be inspired by her own children who had discovered a secret passage in the family home.
Carrie’s War, published in 1973, features two siblings evacuated to a Welsh village during WWII. Bawden was similarly evacuated when she was 14. The book was most recently adapted by the BBC in 2004. Her 1975 novel The Peppermint Pig won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, and the adult title Circles of Deceit was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1987. Among her other recognitions, Bawden received a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1995. In all, Bawden wrote more than 40 novels for children and adults.
In 2002, Bawden and her husband Austen Kark (whom she married in 1954), were involved in the Potters Bar train derailment and crash north of London, which killed Kark and seriously injured Bawden. Her 2005 book Dear Austen, one of her last works, was a memoir in the form of letters to her late husband, recalling the tragedy and describing her efforts to investigate what happened, as well as the legal fallout resulting from the accident. David Hare’s play The Permanent Way, about the privatization of British railroads, also includes Bawden’s experiences of the Potters Bar crash.