Clive King, author of children's classic Stig of the Dump, has died aged 94. He passed away in Norfolk on 10th July.
Born in Richmond, Surrey, in 1924, King went to Downing College, Cambridge, and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London before serving in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. His service as a sailor and his work as a language teacher for the British Council took him all over the world and many of his books for children were inspired by the places he had visited, but it was the one set closest to his childhood home in Kent that launched his writing career.
Stig of the Dump, first published in 1963 by the Puffin editor Kaye Webb, is about a small boy named Barney who explores the dump at the bottom of a nearby chalk-pit, and finds there a cave-boy who has made himself a house out of all kinds of junk. "Stig of the Dump, with its highly evocative illustrations by Edward Ardizzone, has undoubtedly become one of Puffin’s all-time favourite titles, and truly deserves the accolade of ‘timeless classic’," said publisher Penguin Random House Children's.
Francesca Dow, m.d. of the publishing division, said she was "privileged and proud" to publish King and sad to hear of his passing.
"This year our Stone Age Stig is 55 years old. However, the book’s depiction of the vivid interior life and imagination of a child, the delight of roaming free, making shelters and dens away from the grown-ups, as well as ideas such as the universal language of friendship - and even the importance of recycling - feel as fresh and relevant today as they did when Puffin first published it in 1963", said Dow. "I remember reading Stig of the Dump when I was little and longing for a special secret Stig and dump of my own. We extend our thoughts and sympathies to the family."
Stig of the Dump has never been out of print and has sold over two million copies, according to the publisher. The story was adapted for television in 1981 and in 2002, and in 2013 was the subject of a radio programme by author David Almond in appreciation of the book’s 50th anniversary of publication. In 2015 King gave a collection of his work, including manuscripts, letters and cuttings to Seven Stories – the National Centre for Children’s Books – providing an insight to his life and writing career.
King’s first book, Hamid of Aleppo, was first published in 1958. Some of his other works include The Twenty-Two Letters, The Town that Went South, The Night the Water Came, Me and My Million, Ninny’s Boat, The Sound of Propellers, The Seashore People, and Snakes and Snakes. He also wrote for children’s theatre, his plays included "Poles Apart", "Get the Message" and "The Butcher of Rye".
He is survived by his widow Penny and three children.
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