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Townsend, John Rowe

(1922-2014) UK journalist, academic and author, whose made-up middle name was used to distinguish him from the author John Townsend. After they had lived together for many years, he and Jill Paton Walsh were married in 2004. Most of his work was for Young Adult readers, beginning with Gumble's Yard (1961; vt Trouble in the Jungle 1969), not sf. In Noah's Castle (1975), set in a deeply depressed Near-Future UK, a family attempts to find enough to eat but the world's decline is too precipitate, and the Keep their authoritarian father has built to fend off the world is destroyed; this book was adapted for Television as Noah's Castle (April-May 1980 7 episodes). The Xanadu Manuscript (1977; vt The Visitors 1977) is a Time-Travel tale in which a family of Mysterious Strangers, so designated in the text, visit contemporary Cambridge, bringing distress and longing (see Exogamy) to those they affect, who affect them in turn; the accompanying Satire of an ambitious media-savvy academic is sharp but kindly. King Creature, Come (1980; vt The Creatures 1980), told from the viewpoint of two young representatives of the Aliens now occupying Earth, carries them into the human Creatures' lives just as a revolt is fomented, which they join. The Islanders (1981) describes the uncovering of a secret Utopia, founded in the late eighteenth century on an isolated Pacific Island. A Foreign Affair (1982) is Ruritanian in flavour, and The Fortunate Isles (1981) and The Persuading Stick (1987) are fantasies.

His two useful though not comprehensive nonfiction studies are Written for Children: An Outline of English Children's Literature (1965; rev 1974; rev vt Written for Children: An Outline of English-Language Children's Literature 1987) and A Sense of Story: Essays on Contemporary Writers for Children (coll 1971; rev vt A Sounding of Storytellers: New and Revised Essays on Contemporary Writers for Children 1979). [JC]

John Townsend

born Leeds, West Yorkshire: 19 May 1922

died Cambridge, England: 24 March 2014

works (selected)



Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 14:20 pm on 25 May 2022.