Carrie's War author Nina Bawden dies


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The Independent Culture

Nina Bawden, the author of 48 books including the children's story Carrie's War, has died at the age of 87.

Her son, Robert Bawden, and her publisher, Virago, said that the writer died at her home in north London, surrounded by family.

A statement said: "Nina Bawden died quietly this morning, 22 August 2012, at home in North London with her family. She was 87 years old."

Bawden's most famous children's story, Carrie's War, published in 1973, was based on her childhood evacuation to Wales during the war.

The book was a Phoenix Award winner in 1993.

Circles Of Deceit, one of Bawden's novels for adult readers, was shortlisted for the 1987 Booker Prize.

One of Bawden's last books, Dear Austen, followed the Potter's Bar train accident in 2002, which killed her husband Austen Kark, and in which she was also badly injured.

Bawden and Kark, the managing director of the BBC World Service, were on their way to an 80th birthday party in Cambridge when their train was derailed at Potter's Bar after leaving King's Cross.

The writer's publisher at Virago, Lennie Goodings, paid tribute, saying Bawden was writing days before she died.

"Nina Bawden was a gently fierce, clever, elegant, wickedly funny woman," she said.

"She wrote slim books but they were powerful and extraordinarily acute observations about what makes us human.

"I think she was especially good on what goes on behind the facade of good behaviour.

"She was a wonderful storyteller and she was writing to the end. With the help of her son, Robert Bawden, she finished a piece on growing up in the 1940s for a forthcoming Virago anthology just days before she died."

Bawden's other books, seen as modern classics, include The Peppermint Pig, The Runaway Summer and Keeping Henry.

Several of her books, including Family Money and Carrie's War, which has been on the national curriculum, have been adapted for film or television.

A 2004 adaptation of Carrie's War for the BBC starred Keeley Fawcett as Carrie as well as Lesley Sharp, Alun Armstrong and Pauline Quirke.

Prunella Scales and Kacey Ainsworth starred in a stage adaptation in the West End.

Her works have also been translated into several languages.

Playwright Sir David Hare, who portrayed Bawden in his play The Permanent Way, paid tribute to the writer, saying: "I am extremely sad to hear of Nina's death.

"Nina was an uncomplicatedly good woman, whose long fight to obtain justice for the victims of the Potters Bar crash was a model of eloquence, principle and human decency."

Francesca Dow, managing director of Penguin children's division, said: "We are hugely saddened by the death of Nina Bawden - as proud publishers of Nina's work for Puffin, and for each of us here on a personal level.

"Nina was a wonderful storyteller, brilliant at stepping into the minds of her characters and conjuring up a powerful sense of time and place.

"Such is the appeal and power of her classic novels - including Carrie's War and The Peppermint Pig - that they continue to sell strongly today.

"Nina has made a significant contribution to children's literature and been an influence on many younger writers. She will be sorely missed."

Bawden received the prestigious ST Dupont Golden Pen Award for a lifetime's contribution to literature in 2004.

She is survived by a son, a brother, two step-daughters, nine grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.