Thursday, 31 December 2015

Congratulations, Vivian French!

Really thrilled to find out this morning that Vivian French has been awarded an MBE in recognition of her services to literature, literacy, illustration and the arts.

I first met Viv at the end of the 90s, when I was doing a part time course in creative writing at Bristol University in the Department of Continuing Education. Viv taught the segment on children's writing - well, it was actually only half a segment.

I hadn't thought about doing children's writing. Although I was doing some educational writing, I wasn't expecting to be able to write any kind of fiction and get it published; I just wanted to learn how to do it better. But Viv was enormously encouraging and enthusiastic about a short story that I wrote, and she made me think I could do it - and so, in the end, I did. It was also through Viv that I found my lovely agent, Lindsey Fraser. 

So I owe her an enormous amount. Getting that first book published, and all it led to, has enriched my life enormously, and I'm sure I'm only one of thousands who have benefitted from Viv's infectious enthusiasm and generosity. She was such a good teacher - we all learned so much from her, both about writing itself and about the business; she was inspiring but also very practical - and very funny. I've seen her doing a workshop with children, too - brilliant: they loved her.

I just heard on the news that there's controversy already about whether a certain political adviser deserves the honour he's been given. Well, I don't know about that. But with Viv, they've awarded an honour that is utterly and absolutely deserved. Congratulations, Ma'am! (Or should that be Master?)

And the sun's shining. So at least two excellent reasons to feel cheerful this morning.


  1. Indeed, the sun certainly had his hat on today, for a while. Mr Crosby's award.., one for the Dark Knights, I think.

  2. I was so p]eased when I heard this news today. Among all her many other talents, Viv is a most wonderful encourager of so many people. Glad to find she is treasured oop there too!

  3. Delighted to hear this news, which had somehow bypassed the main headlines. I met Viv at a Coventry conference some years ago and found her a great inspiration - so glad it's been recognised! Well done her.