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9 Interesting Facts About Julia Donaldson

Check out the list below for 9 fun facts about the wonderfully talented writer of enchanting tales like The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom.

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1. She was born Julia Catherine Shields in 1948, and grew up in a busy 3-storey Victorian house near Hampstead Heath, London.

Her parents, sister and their beloved cat Geoffrey occupied the ground floor, her aunt and uncle, the first floor and her grandmother was on the second floor.

2. Her parents met shortly before World War II broke out, which forced them to part for six years.

They reunited after the war and married. Unfortunately, when Julia was 6 years old, her father contracted polio and was thereafter confined to a wheelchair. However, he still led a very active life as a lecturer.

3. Julia Donaldson is an excellent linguist.

By the age of 19, she was proficient in French, German and Italian.

4. Julia met her future husband, the guitar-playing medical student Malcolm Donaldson, during their time at university.

They busked in locations around the world with original songs tailored for each country, including America, France and Italy, developing a deep friendship which grew into love. They married in 1972.

5. In 1993, one of Julia's songs, A Squash and a Squeeze, was turned into a book, with illustrations by Axel Scheffler.

Seeing the finished product in her hands, a piece of her work that wouldn't simply disappear like a song does, spurred her to go into writing.

6. The Gruffalo (1999) was inspired by a Chinese story about a little girl who escapes being eaten by a tiger by claiming to be the formidable Queen of the Jungle.

She invites the tiger to walk behind her, and animals cower in fear as they pass. The tiger thinks they cower before her rather than him, and flees.

7. Julia Donaldson was the Children's Laureate from 2011 to 2013.

She encouraged children to perform poetry, plays and dramatised readings in order to develop a love of reading. She produced a series of 'Plays to Read' for six characters to perform in the classroom, written by herself and a number of other writers. She also campaigned fervently against library cuts and closures, and promoted stories both for and about deaf children.

8. She received an MBE in 2011 for services to literature.

9. She is a patron of multiple charities.

These include Artlink Central, Bookbug, The Savoy Theatre, Monmouth, Amaze and Life & Deaf, which engages deaf children in creative arts and writing projects.

  • Julia Donaldson Picture Book Collection - 10 Books

    Julia Donaldson

    Product Code: JDZB
    Collection 3 years +
    (98)
    Hand-picked favourites
    The Gruffalo, The Gruffalo's Child, Room on the Broom... when it comes to books for toddlers, Julia Donaldson can't be beaten and you'll find all these and more in this brilliant 10-book collection.

    Sure to quickly become bedtime favourites, our collection also includes Julia Donaldson stories that may not be as well known but are just as delightful. With flowing, rhyming copy and illustrations from the likes of Axel Scheffler, Rebecca Cobb and Emily Gravett, we just know your toddlers will love The Snail and the Whale, The Paper Dolls and Cave Baby.

    Stories to be returned to time and time again and perfect for shared reading, you will not find these amazing picture books at a lower price. A must for any young reader!

    Format: paperback
    • £12.99
    • RRP £69.90
    • Save £56.91
    Just £1.30 per book
    More info