12 Mar 2014

Annabel Claridge, the children’s author, visited Farlington Prep School on Tuesday 25th February to give workshops about her books and all the things that inspired her to become a writer. The girls were well-armed with many questions and she was quick to answer each one in turn.

Annabel’s stories about Bo, the time travelling poodle, are set in different times and places from Ancient Egypt to the Civil War. She enthralled everyone with her historical facts about Cleopatra and her knowledge of the Plains Indians of North America which features in her novel, ‘Iron Horses’. Her story about the Civil War entitled ‘Storm Dogs’ recounted the life and death of King Charles I from a dog’s eye view. The girls were interested to learn about the King and how he suffered from rickets as a child and had a stammer when he spoke in public. They also found out that he was not brought up to be King as he had an older brother who died from typhus.

After Annabel had explained the plots of her stories she went on to tell the girls about the four key things for writing a story: inspiration, imagination, experience and research. She told us that her favourite author as a child was Frances Hodgson Burnett and that she read ‘The Secret Garden’ seven times. Her favourite book of all time is ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and that her first attempt at writing was with her friend when they produced their own magazine. She is in the process of writing a book about African rhinos which is set in Botswana. As Caitlin MacGregor noted, “Annabel advised us to write about something we have experienced or know a lot about”. Amelia Eltham found the workshop fascinating, “Annabel’s books make history fun and easier to learn.”

This certainly was an interesting workshop, which left the girls with plenty to think about… and perhaps we may have a budding author or two in our midst!