In memory of Marcus Sedgwick


Quality texts for children and young people are at the heart of UKLA’s work in literacy and it was with the deepest sadness that we learned of the death of one of the UK’s most highly acclaimed authors of such texts. Marcus Sedgwick, who died on November 17th aged just 54, was a frequent presence on the long and shortlists for the UKLA Book Awards, but this is not surprising given that, as the Guardian reported, he had been “shortlisted for more than 30 awards.” After winning the Branford Boase Award, which picks out the “most promising newcomer”, with his debut novel Floodland, he certainly fulfilled that promise by going on to win The Booktrust Teenage Prize with My Sword Hand is Singing and was nominated no less than five times for the most prestigious award in children’s literature: the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Prize. He was shortlisted a record breaking eight times for the Carnegie Medal and was also the most noted author in the history of the Printz award in the USA, having one win, for Midwinter Blood, and two Honour books: Revolver and The Ghosts of Heaven. He was a writer of great versatility, winning the Blue Peter Book Award for Lunatics and Luck, the third in his delightfully funny Ravenwood Mysteries series of Gothic adventures for younger readers. In addition, two of his Carnegie shortlistings were for ground breaking collaborations in the graphic novel form: Black Satanic Mills and The Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black.  Most recently he has written two brilliantly accessible novels for Barrington Stoke, Wrath and Dark Peak and in another new departure, in August of this year he published two non-fiction handbooks on mental health for children: Be the Change: Be Calm – Rise Up and Don’t Let Anxiety Hold You Back and Be the Change: Be Kind – Rise Up and Make a Difference to the World. In 2022 Marcus received the honour of being the IBBY UK Author nomination for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. The critical review in the citation, written by Michelle Gill, most fittingly and heartbreakingly concludes: “the compelling, complex tales that Marcus has contributed to YA fiction offer the reader the opportunity to contemplate life in its many iterations, and in doing so, expand the possibilities of the genre. The hope is that he will continue to evolve his writing, offering singular, powerful texts that reflect his diverse interests and meticulous research.”  We are left to mourn those texts that we will never now encounter, but can and should read, reread, relish, celebrate and share the outstanding body of work that Marcus Sedgwick has left behind. 

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