The 100 Most Popular Young Adult Authors: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies

By Bernard A. Drew | Go to book overview

Jill Paton Walsh

Family drama

London, England

April 29, 1937

Fireweed

Jill Paton Walsh grew up in a suburb of London, England, during World War II. Her family lived in fear of devastation from German bombings. This experience provided a backdrop to her early fiction.

“The unwavering heroism of British civilians during 'their finest hour' is sensitively portrayed,” Booklist said of The Dolphin Crossing, as are the personal relationships of the main characters, and the suspense and danger of the Channel crossing and rescue operation are vividly conveyed.”

“The story emphasizes, as any good war story must, that transcending patriotism, courage, and idealism, is the realization of the uselessness and the ultimate waste of war,” added Ethel L. Heins.

Born Gillian Bliss, the daughter of an engineer, the author suffered from Erb's palsy as the result of a breech birth. Her parents' early fear that she might have sustained brain damage proved unfounded, and she was only limited in some arm movement.

During the war, the author lived with a grandmother until the elder died of a heart attack. She spent a lot of time reading, particularly enjoying the classics in her grandfather's library. She did well in school and was accepted at Oxford, where she attended lectures by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.

The author also attended St. Anne's College, Oxford. In 1961, she married Antony Edmund Paton Walsh, a chartered secretary, whom she had met at Oxford. She taught at Enfield Girls Grammar School

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