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PAM ROYDS 1924 - 2016

Pam Royds on Grasmere , 1971 with Sally Christie, children’s author and daughter of Philippa Pearce. I was just twenty two when I fir...

About Me

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United Kingdom
My blog is about writing and illustrating children's books which I have been doing since 1974. www.gillianmcclure.com has all my books. I also have another blog: www.paulcoltman.blogspot.com where I publish my father's poems.

Saturday, 27 March 2010


A book rep first alerted me to the correct way of storing my artwork at the launch in Heffers of The Land of the Dragon King when my watercolours for that book were being returned to me after publication. He told me to protect them with an acid-free paper.

Last week I took a piece of artwork to a paper restorer after it came back from my American publisher creased. I learned from the paper restorer that the strippable board I used for my early illustrations, done in acrylic, was was not safe in the long-term. He told me to store my artwork without the CS board backing it - better still, mount it on an acid free board that would not affect it over the years.

As I'm in the process of selling artwork I feel I have a responsibility to sell something that is not going to deteriorate over the years. Thankfully, I've never used Doc Martin's inks that are popular with illustrators because of their vibrant colours but are known to fade badly with time.
    I do sometimes wonder how much illustration there will be available for sale in the future when  increasingly illustrators are using materials that don't last or are going in for computer generated art rather than illustrating in the traditional way.

Sunday, 21 March 2010


I often get asked 'how did you become a children's writer and illustrator?' and I tell the story of  how I was a teacher at Loanhead Primary for three years and how, when I was teaching a Year 1 class to read in ITA (the Initial Teaching Alphabet), I made them a book called The Emperor's Singing Bird.  This book was spotted in my classroom by a School's Inspector who sent it off to a publisher.

And that was how it all started. In 1974 Andre Deutsch published The Emperor's Singing Bird - but not in the Initial Teaching Alphabet - and I gave up teaching.

The bit I don't always tell is that the School's Inspector, Alan Jamieson, was an author himself and I illustrated a book of his, The Carnferry Gang, set in Glasgow. I'm very grateful to the part Alan Jamieson played in getting me started.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


Searching for material to include in the leaflet for my exhibition at Newby Hall, I came across some childhood work: stories I wrote and illustrated in the late 1950s and early 1960s. One was the adventures of our dog, Grippa; another, Black Tentacles, was set in 'one of the Phillippine Islands' - terrible spelling in both.

I wonder where I found my facts for the second story: is there a Sulu Sea and are Hikuai and Tojo really Philippine names?  I failed the Eleven Plus exam around this time for letting my imagination run riot and not sticking to the facts.
In Black Tentacles, I got round the problem of not being able to spell by making my younger sister type it out so any errors are typos. I also charged sixpence if anyone wanted to read my story. I do hope I gave a cut of the profits to my poor, put-upon sister.

Sunday, 14 March 2010


I've exhibited with other illustrators on several occasions such as - Picture This: Picture Book Art at the Millenium at the Fitzwilliam Museum in 2000 and at Drawn Here: Children's Book Illustration from Sketch to Finished Page in Ipswich in 2008. Anthony Browne did the posters for both these exhibitions where artwork was not up for sale.

From 1 April - 3 May 2010 I'll be having an exhibition at Newby Hall, North Yorkshire. This is my first one-woman-show and I'll be selling artwork, for the first time, from books like Selkie, Tom Finger and Bruna.
   In August another illustrator, Catherine Rayner, will also be exhibiting at Newby Hall.

Here's a link : Newby Hall Exhibition

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


Nice to think of all the books being read to children on World Book Day.  Thankfully, the weather was good last week as hundreds of authors and illustrators headed off to schools all over the country. Now that schools and authors are well briefed about these visits there are hopefully fewer bad experiences than in the early days. I had a good book week this year, going to three very different schools: a small rural state school, a large urban state school and a small private school in a Victorian house in London. That was all I could manage in the week. I had to turn three others down. It's a shame schools don't spread their Book Weeks more evenly over the year.

You rarely meet other authors during Book Week though I remember once passing Val Biro in a school corridor during a particularly relentless day of non-stop workshops at a large London school with a young male head teacher who was hitting some big targets.
"This one's going to do me in," Val gasped. " Haven't even been offered a coffee." His car Gumdrop was parked in the playground. He'd driven it in rush hour traffic round the M25 to get to the school by nine.
All a long way from a quiet day in the studio.

Sunday, 7 March 2010


My first grandson is about to have his second birthday party. Sadly, I can't get over to Vancouver for it but maybe I'll catch a glimpse on skype video.
As he likes dogs I've bought him for his birthday two dog stories in board book format: Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion & Margaret Bloy Graham

and Where's Spot? by Eric Hill.
And because I like cats, a cat story in board book form: Ginger by Charlotte Voake. It's great these classics are all coming out in board book form.

The dog story I didn't get him was Good Dog Carl by Alexandra Day.

I find some of the images of the very realistic rottweiler a bit disturbing and I'm surprised to find it is now a board book.

Another book I will send is an old hardback copy of Red Riding Hood re-told in verse by Beatrice Schenk de Regnier with Edward Gorey's witty pictures because I know my son enjoyed it as a child and will enjoy reading it to his son.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010


When I first painted Granny in Selkie my editor Penny Walker at Doubleday found her too thin and her nose and chin too angular.
She asked me to make changes and Granny ended up a plumper and more comfortable character.

Now that I'm a granny, I've become my own editor when it comes to drawing  grannies. Now I like to draw my grannies younger and a little more glamorous.