Kate had somehow managed to miss a piece of sad news until Marion Lloyd, of Marion Lloyd Books (with whom Kate worked for ages both at Macmillan and Scholastic, of which Marion Lloyd Books is an imprint), rang up today: Eva Ibbotson died on Wednesday aged 85.
Eva wrote books that are spooky, books that are funny, books that are historical and books that are moving. Kate ran Macmillan for 10 years and so had the privilege of being responsible for managing her backlist and publishing many of her books, including the one she is perhaps best known for: Journey to the River Sea.
Twice shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, shortlisted for the Roald Dahl funny prize and the Guardian children’s fiction prize, and winner of the Nestle prize, her wide-ranging imagination, wit and writing brilliance were acknowledged by librarians and critics, but she was very much a writer that children respond to: Kate, co-incidentally, listed The Secret of Platform 13 and Journey to the River Sea in her recent blog about best books for 10 year-old girls.
A mother of four and grandmother, Eva was born in Vienna (a city beautifully evoked in The Star of Kazan), and her childhood was split between pre-war Germany, Austria, Scotland and England. She came to call the North-East of England her home. She was droll, sharp (in a good way) and self-deprecating. Kate is very happy to have known her, and very sad that she has died.
Her final book, One Dog and His Boy, will be published by Marion Lloyd books in May 2011.