Eva Ibbotson

Eva Ibbotson bigraphy, stories - British writer

Eva Ibbotson : biography

21 January 1925 – 20 October 2010

Eva Ibbotson, born Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner (21 January 1925 – 20 October 2010), was an Austrian-born British novelist, known for her children’s books. Some of her novels for adults have been successfully reissued for the young adult market in recent years.

For the historical novel Journey to the River Sea (Macmillan, 2001), she won the Smarties Prize in category 9–11 years, garnered unusual commendation as runner up for the Guardian Prize, and made the Carnegie, Whitbread, and Blue Peter shortlists.

She was a finalist for the 2010 Guardian Prize at the time of her death. Her last book, The Abominables, was one of eight books on the longlist for the same award in 2012.

Marriage and family

Eva married Alan Ibbotson in 1947. She turned her back on science with some relief. They moved to Newcastle upon Tyne where they raised their family of three sons and a daughter.

Eva Ibbotson returned to college, graduating with a diploma in education in 1965 from the University of Durham. She briefly became a teacher in the 1960s before embarking on her writing career.

Ibbotson was widowed. She died at her home in Newcastle on 20 October 2010, having just completed editing the proofs of her last children’s book, "One Dog and his Boy" and starting work on another ghost story to add to her long and successful series of children’s ghost stories.

The Secret of Platform 13 and Harry Potter

Critics have observed similarities between Ibbotson’s "Platform 13" in The Secret of Platform 13 (1994) and J.K. Rowling’s "Platform 9 3/4" in the Harry Potter books (from 1997), both located at King’s Cross Station in London. The journalist Amanda Craig has written about the similarities: "Ibbotson would seem to have at least as good a case for claiming plagiarism as the American author currently suing J. K. Rowling [Nancy Stouffer], but unlike her, Ibbotson says she would ‘like to shake her [Rowling] by the hand. I think we all borrow from each other as writers’."


Best Romantic Novel of the Year Published in England, Romantic Novelists Association, 1983, Magic Flutes

Carnegie Medal

shortlist 1978, Which Witch?
shortlist 2001, Journey to the River Sea;
shortlist 2005, The Star of Kazan

Best Books designation, School Library Journal, 1998, The Secret of Platform 13

Nestle Smarties Book Prize

shortlist 1998, The Secret of Platform 13
winner 2001, ages 9–11 years, Journey to the River Sea
silver medal 2004, 9–11 years, The Star of Kazan

Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year, 2001 shortlist, Journey to the River Sea

Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize

highly commended runner up 2001, Journey to the River Sea
shortlist 2010, The Ogre of Oglefort
longlist 2012, The Abominables (8 June 2012)


Eva Ibbotson began writing with the television drama Linda Came Today, which the British "Television Playhouse" series broadcast in December 1962., Film & TV Database: Television Playhouse, British Film Institute. Retrieved 2012-11-02. Her first English-language book was The Great Ghost Rescue, a juvenile fantasy novel published in 1975 by Macmillan in the U.K. and Walck in the U.S., with illustrations by Simon Stern and Giulio Maestro respectively.

Children’s books

Ibbotson wrote more than a dozen books for children, including Which Witch?, The Secret of Platform 13, Dial-a-Ghost, Monster Mission,Journey to the River Sea, The Star of Kazan, and The Beasts of Clawstone Castle. She won the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize for Journey to the River Sea, and has been a runner up for major awards in British children’s literature several times. WorldCat libraries report holding Which Witch? and Journey to the River Sea in more than five and ten languages, respectively.