Dyslexic author wins the Children's Book Prize

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The Independent Culture

A dyslexic writer described as uneducable who did not learn to read until she was 14 has won the 21st Nestlé Children's Book Prize.

Sally Gardner beat Philip Pullman to win the gold medal for I, Coriander, an adventure story set both in the world of fairies and in the time of the Puritans.

Now 52, and the mother of three adult children, she only plucked up the courage to write and illustrate 12 years ago having seen a promising career in theatre design wrecked by her dyslexia. As a child she had been sent to a school for maladjusted children.

"I honestly never thought it would be possible to write because of my dyslexia," she once said. But having discovered that the ideas and storytelling were what counted in books, not spelling, she forged her new career. I, Coriander is her first book consisting of words alone.

Receiving her £2,500 cheque yesterday, she said: "In the theatre world, my dyslexia had been a problem, but in the world of publishing, it has been less so. That I can't spell is a great irritant to people having to deal with my manuscripts, but it's the ideas that count," she said. "Just having people believe in me was what made it happen for me. I'm doing what I love doing, which is story-telling."