Nicholas Allan (H. 1970-75)

Nicholas Allan is the author/illustrator of over thirty children’s books.

He wrote his first novel when he was 14, a story about a murder in a school. He sent it to Macmillan who, although they did not accept it, asked to see his next. Nicholas studied painting at the Slade School of Art. During this time he had his first radio play broadcasted by BBC Radio 4. He then completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.

Nicholas worked as a waiter, three weeks in a publisher’s office and as a part-time teacher of a life class before he published his first book, The Hefty Fairy (1989). Since then he has been a full-time writer and illustrator. Many of his books are bestsellers, including The Queen’s Knickers, Jesus’ Christmas Party, The Happy Princess (the life of Diana), Cinderella’s Bum, The Dove, and Where Willy Went. His books have won awards and been translated into twenty languages (see below). He is also the author of Hilltop Hospital, a book that has been adapted into a BAFTA-winning television series for CITV. The series has been shown in over forty countries. (see Scriptwriting workshops & school visits.)

Nicholas has been the Chairman of the Society of Authors' Children’s Group and has made many appearances on television and radio. (see below) He is also the author of The Complete Guide To Gatecrashing and one novel The First Time.

Nicholas became Patron of the Isle of Wight Literature Festival in 2016. 

In 2017 Nicholas's work was donated to the National Archive for Children's Literature and Illustration. For this he was given an Arts Council Cultural Gift Award, which paid for the donation. It's the first time it's been awarded to a living artist.

Stephen Fry announced the launch of Nicholas's The Queen's Knickers Award at The Society of Authors Award Ceremony, summer 2018. This forms a permanent endowment for a national book prize, to be awarded for a quirky children's picture book and will be awarded annually. The first award will be given in 2019. Nicholas also exhibited at the Royal Academy's 250th Anniversary Summer show 2018.  

  1. When you were at Brighton College, what did you want to be when you ‘grew-up’?
    I wanted to be a writer and artist when I grew up.
  2. What are you now you've grown up?
    I'm now a writer and artist. Not that you feel very grown-up doing this kind of job.
  3. What is your best memory of school?
    My best and worse memory is being in love. I was at that kind of age.
  4. What was the best piece of advice you were given?
    The best bit of advice was from my art teacher. He said, looking at my work, 'I wish I could get you to drink a glass of whiskey.'
  5. What are the most challenging parts of your job?
    The most difficult part of my job is thinking of an original idea. But that's the only difficult part of all art. You can get someone to do the rest.
  6. What have you done that you are most proud of?
    I'm most proud of my books that never go out of print - and winning a BAFTA.
  7. What is the single thing that would most improve the quality of your life?
    My life would be enhanced by knowing 100% that some of my books will stick around.
  8. What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?
    A book called The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway's first novel. It has the best ending in all literature.
    A small Chardin.
    A teddy I've had since I was seven. Bearable company
  9. How would you like to be remembered?
    I'd like to be remembered for a book or two. Nothing else. >>

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