Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia
December 16, 1927
“Peter Dickinson arrived on the children's book scene in 1969, and by spring of the following year could be regarded as established and successful,” John Rowe Townsend said. Dickinson is noted for his strong storytelling, unusual plot elements, fast action, and broad interest in ideas.
The writer's first seven years were spent in Northern Rhodesia, where his father was a British civil servant and his mother a tomb restorer. Upon their return to England, his father died.
After attending Eton College on a scholarship, Dickinson entered the military. He served as a district signals officer during World War II. He later attended King's College, Cambridge, where he earned a degree in English literature in 1951. He then went to work for Punch, a humor magazine, where his duties included reviewing crime novels.
With a knowledge of what worked and what did not work in mysteries, Dickinson wrote his first novel, The Glass-sided Ants' Nest. It incorporated elements of anthropology and a tribe of aborigines living in London. His police inspector hero, Jimmy Pibble, was an older, bland individual without the detective skills of a Sherlock Holmes.
The author's “gift to the crime story has been an imagination of unusual, even extraordinary, forcefulness,” H. R. F. Keating said, adding that Dickinson's mysteries follow classical patterns, but that each “has had its extraordinary 'background,' its small odd world.”