Mal Peet dead at 67: Tributes to children's author who was 'universally adored'

Tamar author died of cancer

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Tributes have been pouring in for award-winning children’s author Mal Peet who died of cancer at the age of 67.

The Devon-based writer who won the Carnegie Medal in 2006 for his historical novel Tamar died on Monday night several months after being diagnosed.

Peet, who was born in Norfolk but lived in Exmouth, began his career as a teacher but turned to writing to combat "his old enemy, boredom".

Describing his career change Peet wrote: "By the mid-Seventies, I was teaching at a college in Exeter, Devon. Quite suddenly my loathing of routine kicked in and I quit the job, thinking that I could make a living writing and drawing cartoons. I couldn’t."

Peet credits meeting his second wife and co-author Elspeth Graham with his publishing success.

He wrote novels for teenagers and adults and a series of children's books co-authored with his wife Elspeth Graham.


"It was [my wife's] idea that together we try writing and illustrating books for children. It was a great idea, and it kept us in starvation for about three years. Like a lot of people, we enormously underestimated the skill and effort involved in producing good picture books," Peet wrote.

Peter Cox described him as "a writer's writer" and said he was “universally adored and admired by other writers.”

Cox said: “Mal’s talent was as prodigious as his warm, wide-open heart. I have lost a dear friend, and we have all lost an author of exceptional genius. His best and most exciting years were still ahead: his premature death is utterly tragic."


The author is survived by his wife Elspeth and children Tom, Lauren and Charlie, and his grandchildren Grace and Ezra.