Remembering Brian Jacques
Kidsreads.com mourns the passing of celebrated children’s book author Brian Jacques, who passed away on February 5th at the age of 71. Jacques was the author of the New York Times bestsellingRedwall series, which has sold more than 20 million copies and been published in more than 20 countries. The 22nd and final book in the series, THE ROGUE CREW, will be in stores on May 3rd.
Brian Jacques was born in Liverpool, England, on June 15, 1939. Along with 40% of the population of Liverpool, his ancestral roots are in Ireland, County Cork. He grew up in the area around the Liverpool docks. His interest in adventure stories began at an early age when he read the works of Daniel Defoe, Sir Henry Rider Haggard, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Edgar Rice Burroughs. One of his favorites was Kenneth Graham’s WIND IN THE WILLOWS.
Jacques is survived by his wife and two grown sons.
Brian Jacques was born in Liverpool, England on June 15th, 1939. Along with forty percent of the population of Liverpool, his ancestral roots are in Ireland, County Cork to be exact.
He grew up in the area around the Liverpool docks. His interest in adventure stories began at an early age with reading the books of: Daniel Defoe, Sir Henry Rider Haggard, Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Thomas Malory, Robert Michael Ballantyne, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Kenneth Grahame. He attended St. John's School, an inner city school that had its playground on the roof. On his first day at St. John's, at the age of ten, he had an experience that marked his potential as a writer. When given an assignment of writing a story about animals, he wrote about the bird that cleaned a crocodile's teeth. The teacher could not, and would not, believe that a ten year old could write that well. When young Brian refused to falsely say that he had copied the story, he was caned as "a liar". He had always loved to write, but it was only then, that he realized that he had a talent for writing.
Some teachers at St. John's proved to be good role models. As Mr. Jacques recalls:
"My favourite teacher was Mr. Austin Thomas. He looked like Lee Marvin. Big Man. A Captain in World War II. He came to school on a big bush bike with the haversack on back. He was a man's man. Always fair. I was fourteen at the time when Mr. Thomas introduced the class to poetry and Greek literature. (Because of him, I saved seven shillings and sixpence to buy THE ILIAD and THE ODYSSEY at this dusty used book shop.)"
This interest in poetry extended to Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Goldsmith. It was also at St. John's that Brian met a teacher, Alan Durband (who also taught two Beatles, Paul McCartney and George Harrison), who, more than thirty years later would bring about a major change in his life.
After Brian finished school at fifteen, he set out to find adventure as a merchant seaman. He travelled to many far away ports, including New York, Valparaiso, San Francisco, and Yokohama. Tiring of the lonely life of a sailor, he returned to Liverpool where he worked as a railway fireman, a longshoreman, a long-distance truck driver, a bus driver, a boxer, a bobby (Police Constable 216D), a postmaster, and a stand-up comic.