Sunday, October 26, 2008

Author Spotlight: Janet and Allan Ahlberg

Janet and Allan Ahlberg - husband and wife, and one of Britain's most successful author/illustrator teams - worked together for over 20 years, writing and illustrating well over 100 award-winning children's books together.

They met in the early 1960's in Sunderland, England - when both studied to be teachers. Allan worked in a range of employment situations (postman, grave digger, soldier, and plumber's mate among them) before becoming a primary teacher for 10 years. 

Janet studied teaching, then went on to study graphic design at Leicester Polytechnic and became an illustrator. She married Allan in 1969. Several years later, she asked Allan to write a children's book for her to illustrate. This began their writing and illustrating career for children in the form of stories, verse, picture books and novels.

Their first three books were The Old Joke Book, The Vanishment of Thomas Tull, and Burglar Bill. By the 1980's, their books were "big news" both in Britain and around the world, and translated into 21 different languages. But The Jolly Postman was their greatest success, sellling over 6 million copies. It took five years to make, and was finally published in 1986, winning numerous awards. 

Janet and Allan Ahlberg created together until, sadly, Janet died of cancer in 1994 at the age of 50. Allan moved to London in 1998, and has continued to write, even collaborating with illustrator daughter Jessica - born to the couple in 1980, and a great inspiration to his and his wife's work.

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