Paton Walsh, Jill

Tagged: Author

(1937-    ) UK author who lived for many years with John Rowe Townsend; they were married in 2004. Most of her work has been for Young Adult readers; she has also written several nonfantastic detective novels. Of her work, Toolmaker (1974) is Prehistoric SF; A Chance Child (1978) is a Timeslip tale whose young protagonist, shifted out of an unhappy life in the present, finds the nineteenth century even more difficult to cope with, and is in fact invisible to adults (see Invisibility) until he is able to laugh out loud and join his fellows; the family featured in The Green Book (1981; vt Shine 1981), after being forced to leave an Earth facing destruction, travel to the apparently uninhabited planet Shine, where the flora are crystalline and the fauna – for sentient Alien life is soon found there – are made of rock. Torch (1987) is set in a seemingly clement Ruined Earth world, and traces its young protagonists attempts to find the true home of the torch they are assigned to bear; it turns out to be the Olympic torch, which responds (by flaring or flickering) to good and evil in the humans around it, and through which they learn about the ancient world of its origin. Knowledge of Angels (1994), an adult book with no literally fantastic element, describes the raising in total isolation of an enfant sauvage by monks inhabiting the mysterious Island of Graninsula, in the hope that this experiment will tell them if knowledge of God is learned or innate. Walsh's seriousness of intent, and the ethical dilemmas she investigates through her varied venues, make her books both luminous and, at times, slightly waterlogged with meaning. [JC]

Gillian Paton Walsh

born London: 29 April 1937


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