LONDON (Reuters) - British author Nina Bawden, who wrote novels for adults and children and was shortlisted for the coveted Booker Prize in 1987 for “Circles of Deceit”, died on Wednesday. She was 87.
Her agent said she passed away at her home in north London surrounded by family, and her publisher added that Bawden had been writing “to the end”.
Bawden’s best-known children’s story was “Carrie’s War”, about two children who are evacuated to Wales during World War Two, which won the Pheonix Award in 1993 handed out by the Children’s Literature Association in the United States.
“The Peppermint Pig”, published in 1975, won the Guardian Award for Children’s Fiction, and both books were adapted for television in BBC series.
One of Bawden’s last works was “Dear Austen”, a small 2005 memoir addressed to her husband Austen Kark who was killed in a train crash at Potters Bar, north of London, in May 2002 in which the author herself was also seriously injured.
Kark was a former managing director of BBC World Service, and the couple had been on their way to a birthday party in Cambridge when the train derailed at speed.
Lennie Goodings, Bawden’s publisher at Virago, called the author “gently fierce” and a “wickedly funny woman.
“She wrote slim books but they were powerful and extraordinarily acute observations about what makes us human,” Goodings said in a statement. “I think she was especially good on what goes on behind the facade of good behavior.”
Bawden had finished a piece on growing up in the 1940s, written with the help of her son Robert, for a forthcoming Virago anthology just days before she died.
Bawden was born in 1925, and as a teenager was evacuated to Wales during the war. She studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University in the same year as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
She finished her first novel, for adults, a year after gaining a degree.
“I like writing for children,” Bawden once said. “It seems to me that most people underestimate their understanding and the strength of their feelings and in my books for them I try to put this right.”
Reporting by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Steve Addison