Jamila Gavin

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Jamila Gavin FRSL (born 9 August 1941) is a British writer born in Mussoorie in the United Provinces of India, in the present-day state of Uttarakhand in the Western Himalayas. She is known primarily for children's books, including several with Indian origins.


Gavin was born on 9 August 1941 in Mussoorie in the foothills of the Himalayas, her father was Indian and her mother English; they met as teachers in Iran.[1] She learned to describe herself as "half and half", she says online that from her mixed background "I inherited two rich cultures which ran side by side throughout my life, and which always made me feel I belonged to both countries."

She first visited England when she was six, and settled there when she was 11, she worked in the music department of the BBC before becoming a writer.

She wrote her first book, The Magic Orange Tree and Other Stories, in 1979. After her first child was born, she became aware that there were few children's books reflecting their experience as multi-racial children, she has also written books reflecting her childhood in India, particularly her Surya trilogy.

She is also a patron of the Shakespeare Schools Festival, a charity that enables schoolchildren across the UK to perform Shakespeare in professional theatres.[2]

Gavin settled in Stroud, Gloucestershire before 1990 and was still living there in 2009[3] and in 2012.[4]

In 2016, Gavin was one of the founders of Stroud Book Festival,[5] together with Cindy Jefferies.[6][circular reference][7]

Her son, the novelist Rohan Gavin,[8] married Dido, a singer-songwriter.[9]


The Surya trilogy (1992 to 1997) is a family saga following two generations of Indian Sikhs and showing the impact of the British Empire and the Partition of India on their lives; the three volumes are The Wheel of Surya (1992), The Eye of the Horse (1994) and The Track of the Wind (1997). All three books made the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize shortlist and The Wheel of Surya was special runner-up.

Coram Boy won the 2000 Whitbread Prize as Children's Book of the Year, it is set in the 18th century, based on the Foundling Hospital established in London by sea Captain Thomas Coram. According to a local newspaper, the story "has links to Gloucestershire."[3] Coram Boy has been adapted for the stage by Helen Edmundson and produced by the Royal National Theatre in 2005–2006 - garnering Edmundson an Olivier Award[10][11] – as well on Broadway in 2007.

Three Indian Goddesses and Three Indian Princesses are collections of short stories based around Indian legends. Nine short stories were collected as The Magic Orange Tree and Other Stories.

Grandpa Chatterji is a series for younger children, named for its first book, which was adapted for television in 1997.[12] Other books in the series are Grandpa Chatterji's Third Eye and Grandpa's Indian Summer; the first book made the Smarties Prize shortlist for reader ages 6–8.[1]

Jamila Gavin also wrote The Robber Baron's Daughter, Forbidden Memories, I Want to be An Angel, Kamla and Kate, Someone's Watching, Someone's Waiting, The Hideaway and The Wormholers.


  • The Magic Orange Tree and other stories (1979)
  • Three Indian Princesses (1987)
  • The Singing Bowls (1989)
  • See No Evil (2008)
  • Grandpa Chatterji (1993)
  • Surya trilogy
    • The Wheel of Surya (Methuen, 1992)
    • The Eye of the Horse (Methuen, 1994)
    • The Track of the Wind (Mammoth, 1997)
  • Grandpa's Indian Summer (1995)
  • The Wormholers (1996)[13]
  • The Girl Who Rode on a Lion
  • The Temple by the Sea
  • The Lake of Stars
  • Our Favorite Stories (1997)
  • The Monkey in the Stars (date?) — adapted by Gavin as a play for children, Monkeys in the Stars (2001)
  • Coram Boy (2000)
  • Grandpa Chatterji's Third Eye (2006)
  • Fine Feathered Friend (1996)
  • Three Indian Goddesses (2001)
  • Star Child On Clark Street
  • Danger By Moonlight (2002)
  • Out of India: Walking on My Hands
  • Out of India: An Anglo Indian Childhood (1997)
  • The Whistling Monster
  • Celebration Stories, Coming Home
  • An Interview With Jamila Gavin
  • From Out of the Shadows
  • The Blood Stone (2003)
  • The Robber Baron's Daughter
  • Deadly Friend (1994)
  • I Want to be An Angel (1990)
  • Forbidden Memories
  • Kamla and Kate (1983)
  • Kamla and Kate Again
  • Someone's Watching, Someone's Waiting
  • The Hideaway (1987)
  • Double Dare
  • Storyworlds (Heinemann, 1996), illustrated by Rhian Nest James
    • Grandma's Surprise
    • The Mango Tree
    • Presents
    • Who Did It?
  • Digital Dan
  • Ali and the Robots (1986)[13]
  • Stories From the Hindu World (1986)
  • The Bow of Shiva
  • The Turning Point
  • Alexander the Greatest (Walker, 2009), illus. Sumito Sakakibara
  • Fox
  • Derka Derb
  • Alexander the Great: Man, Myth, or Monster? (Walker, 2012), illus. David Parkins – biography?[4]

Awards and honours[edit]

On 15 July 2014, she was announced as a finalist for the Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature.[14]

She became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2015.[15]

Short listed for Richard Imison Memorial Award in 2001 [16][17]

2000, Winner of Whitbread Children's Book Award (Costa Book Awards,[18][circular reference]) [19]

1997, Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, Shortlist [17]

1994, Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, Shortlist [17]

1992, Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, Shortlist [17]


  1. ^ a b "Jamila Gavin – Author" Archived 4 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Egmont UK Ltd. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  2. ^ "Jamila Gavin" Archived 5 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Shakespeare Schools Festival (ssf.uk.com). London. [2009]. Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Author Jamila Gavin supports restoration of Minchinhampton Market House". Rachel Clare. Stroud News & Journal. 18 November 2009. Retrieved 19 November 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Alexander the Great: Man, Myth, or Monster?" Archived 11 March 2015 at the Wayback Machine (publisher display). Walker Books. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
    Walker describes the book as biography and history but says that it "will fascinate young readers of fact and fiction alike" and assigns the BIC Code "General fiction (Children's/YA)".
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ Cindy Jefferies
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ "Dido speaks of her battle with insecurities". Mail Online. 22 November 2013.
  9. ^ "ABOUT". Jamila Gavin.
  10. ^ "South Bank: 2003–2012" Archived 22 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine. The History of the National Theatre. National Theatre. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  11. ^ "Olivier Winners 2006". Olivier Awards.
  12. ^ [3]. Video.
  13. ^ a b Jamila Gavin at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 8 September 2013. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
  14. ^ "Finalists Announced for Prestigious NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature". The Neustadt Prize. 15 July 2014.
  15. ^ "Royal Society of Literature » Current RSL Fellows". rsliterature.org.
  16. ^ "Scriptwriters Group – The Society of Authors". www.societyofauthors.org.
  17. ^ a b c d "Jamila Gavin – Literature". literature.britishcouncil.org.
  18. ^ Costa Book Awards
  19. ^ http://www.costa.co.uk/media/414535/past-winners-complete-list.pdf

External links[edit]