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Cherith Baldry (1947–) Biography - Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

england book fiction christian

Born 1947, in Lancaster, Lancastershire, England; Education: University of Manchester, B.A. (with honors), 1969; St. Anne's College, Oxford, B.Litt, 1973; Aberdeen Teacher Training College, teaching certificate, 1974. Religion: Church of England (Anglican). Hobbies and other interests: Early music.

Career

Novelist and educator. Jewish High School for Girls, Manchester, England, teacher of English, 1971–73; St. Margaret's School for Girls, Aberdeen, Scotland, teacher of English, speech, and drama, 1975; Fourah Bay College, Freetown, Sierra Leone, lecturer in English literature, 1976–79; Tandridge School District, Surrey, England, teacher of adult-education English, 1980–81; Associated Examining Board of Guilford, Surrey, England, assistant examiner, 1980–; moderator of General Certificate of Secondary Education English literature, 1987–; Stowford College, Sutton, Surrey, teacher of English literature, 1986–88; Priory School, Banstead, Surrey, teacher of English and librarian, 1988–; Cambridge Board, Cambridge, England, assistant examiner of English, 1989–.

Member

Fellowship of Christian Writers (committee member, 1991–), British Science Fiction Association.

Honors Awards

First prize, London Calling magazine competition, 1988, for short story "Happiness Inc."; Nottingham and Notts Drama Association Award, 1991, for Achilles His Armour.

Writings

FICTION

Drew's Talents (for children), illustrated by Deirdre Counihan, Palm Tree (Bury St. Edmunds, England), 1997.

Mutiny in Space (for children), illustrated by Mark Edwards, Puffin (London, England), 1997.

Exiled from Camelot, Green Knight, 2001.

The Reliquary Ring, Macmillan (London, England), 2003.

The Roses of Roazon, Macmillan (London, England), 2004.

Also author of The Other Side of the Mountains, Kingsway (Eastborne, England). Stories included in anthologies, including Fantasy Stories, 1996; Royal Whodunnits, 1999; and Vector 163. Contributor of short stories to periodicals, including Surrey Mirror, Vector, Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, Interzone, and Xenos.

"SAGA OF THE SIX WORLDS" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN

The Book and the Phoenix, illustrated by Vic Mitchell, Kingsway (Eastborne, England), 1989, published as A Rush of Golden Wings, Crossway (Wheaton, IL), 1991, revised as Cradoc's Quest, Chariot Books (Elgin, IL), 1994.

Hostage of the Sea, illustrated by Vic Mitchell, Kingsway, 1990, published as Rite of Brotherhood, Chariot Books (Elgin, IL), 1994.

The Carpenter's Apprentice, illustrated by Vic Mitchell, Kingsway (Eastborne, England), 1992.

Storm Wind, illustrated by Vic Mitchell, Chariot Books (Elgin, IL), 1994.

"EAGLESMOUNT MYSTERIES" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN

The Silver Horn, illustrated by David Wyatt, Macmillan Children's (London, England), 2001, Mondo (New York, NY), 2002.

The Emerald Throne, illustrated by David Wyatt, Macmillan Children's (London, England), 2001, Mondo (New York, NY), 2003.

The Lake of Darkness, illustrated by David Wyatt, Macmillan Children's (London, England), 2001, Mondo (New York, NY), 2004.

"ABBY MYSTERIES" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN

The Buried Cross, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2004.

The Silent Man, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2004.

The Scarlet Spring, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2004.

The Drowned Sword, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2005.

PLAYS

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang (one-act; produced in Surrey, England), published in Triad 74: A Fine Selection of One-Act Plays, New Playwrights' Network, 1989.

Achilles His Armour (one-act; produced in Nottinghamshire, England), Nottingham and Notts Drama Association (Nottinghamshire, England), 1991.

Also author of plays Out of Darkness and House Arrest.

OTHER

A Students' Guide to "The Silver Box" by John Galsworthy, Graham Brash (Singapore), 1989.

Questions and Answers on "The Merchant of Venice", Tynron (Lutterworth, England), 1992.

The Merchant of Venice: A Study Guide, First and Best in Education (Peterborough, England), 1996.

Sidelights

Cherith Baldry is a British writer who has combined her interest in fantasy and science fiction with her Christian beliefs and her interest in Arthurian legend to create novels such as The Roses of Roazon and Exiled from Camelot, as well as several fiction series for young-adult readers. She moves to science fiction in The Reliquary Ring, a futuristic novel set in an alternate Venice in which humans rule over a genetically manufactured humanoid underclass. Amid palace scandals, masked costume balls, and assorted intrigues, Baldry weaves a multilayered tale that features an evil villain, a plucky young heroine, and a Christian message that does not overwhelm the plot. Praising The Reliquary Ring, Infinity Plus online reviewer Stephen Palmer wrote that "readers who yearn for well-written, literate, atmospheric fantasy that doesn't feature massed battles and orcs will find much here to enjoy," while Victoria Strauss commented for SFSite.com that in "crafting a delightfully absorbing narrative," the author "richly evokes her nameless city, its exquisite surfaces roiled by dark undercurrents of corruption and cruelty that invest even the most perfect places with the whiff of decay."

The first volume of her "Saga of the Six Worlds" series, A Rush of Golden Wings (published in England as The Book and the Phoenix and revised as Cradoc's Quest), introduces a barren world whose dispirited human population gains a growing awareness of the value of freedom, commitment, and an afterlife after a young boy distributes copies of a forbidden book containing an inspiring text—the Bible. The power of God is also the theme of Rite of Brotherhood (published in England as Hostage of the Sea), which finds fifteen-year-old Aurion held captive by a warlike king. As her captor prepares to make war on his enemies and conquer the planet, Aurion draws on her knowledge of the Christian faith to win the king to God's love and change his plans.

Baldry's "Eaglesmount" series focuses on more mainstream fantasy, as Vair, a young pine marten, confronts a challenge and discovers his destiny after his father's death in The Silver Horn. Vair's story continues in The Emerald Throne, as he joins several friends on a journey that will take him to Eaglesmount, his task to preserve the throne of the Eagle Kings against the efforts of the Lord Owl from ruling the kingdom of Riverbourne. In The Lake of Darkness Vair and the other creatures of Riverbourne confront a greater threat to their peace when the throne of the kingdom remains empty.

Baldry once told SATA: "I can't remember a time when I didn't write; certainly, I have memories of doing so as a very small child. My grandfather was a wonderful storyteller, and so making up stories always seemed a natural thing to do. It's only quite recently that I realized not everyone has characters walking around in their head.

"I also became interested in science fiction from a very early age, mainly through sneaking a look at my father's library books. I didn't understand them—they were aimed at adults anyway—but I'll never forget the sensation of something excitingly unusual. Although I started reading children's science fiction as well, in those days it was mostly adventure stories in space suits, and, with a few exceptions, it didn't capture the imagination in the same way.

"When I started writing seriously for publication, I wrote some science fiction, and an Arthurian novel, and quite a lot of detective fiction, all unpublished. I still have an ambition to publish a detective story of the classic puzzle type.

Baldry's "Eaglesmount" trilogy concludes in The Lake of Darkness, which finds the heroic Vair leading the animals of Riverbourne against a long-hidden evil. (Illustration by David Wyatt.)

"In all this early material, I never thought of myself as a Christian writer. Although I've always been a Christian, writing a novel about my faith seemed far too difficult an undertaking. Then I began a science-fiction novel about a group of people living in a very restricted society, who were gradually going to wake up to the possibilities of freedom and personal commitment. I realized that if I was going to write this book honestly, they had to wake up spiritually as well, and so, terrified, I introduced a Christian theme.

"This book was rejected by a couple of publishers, and then I went with my husband to Sierra Leone, where we worked for four years, and though I continued to write, difficulties with postage meant that I submitted very little work for publication.

"Back in England I dusted off the Christian book and tried it again, this time with specifically Christian publishers, and once again it was rejected, for perfectly valid reasons, but enough interest was shown to make me realize that I had to write another Christian book. I also began to realize that I could write for older children.

"I had no ideas whatsoever, except that I wanted the book to be science fiction and that I felt more comfortable dealing with Christian themes in a symbolic way. Then I had the idea—while standing outside Foyle's book shop at the top of the Charing Cross Road in London—of using one of the medieval symbols of Christ: what about a phoenix? Going home on the train I was simmering away, and by the time I reached home I had the outline of the plot and the main characters of what eventually became The Book and the Phoenix, published in the United States as A Rush of Golden Wings.

"Even before The Book and the Phoenix was accepted for publication, I wanted to write another book using the same basic background of the 'Six Worlds' series. For a long time I had had the idea of writing a book about the developing friendship between two very different young men, but although I had ideas for incidents that would build up the relationship, the story had no basic direction; it was impossible to write it. Seeing it as another 'Six Worlds' book gave that direction, and Hostage of the Sea came into being. After Kingsway accepted these books, they asked for another in the series, [with led to] The Carpenter's Apprentice."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Extrapolation, summer, 2002, Ann F. Howey, "A Churlish Hero: Contemporary Fantasies Rewrite Sir Kay," p. 115.

Guardian (London, England), January 15, 2005, Jon Courtenay Grimwood, review of The Roses of Roazon.

School Librarian, autumn, 2004, Angela Lepper, review of The Buried Cross, p. 135; spring, 2005, Peter Andrews, review of The Silent Man, p. 24; summer, 2004, Andrea Rayner, review of "The Drowned Sword," p. 79.

School Library Journal, July, 2004, Mara Alpert, review of The Lake of Darkness, p. 66.

ONLINE

Infinity Plus Web site, http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/ (January 1, 2006), Stephen Palmer, review of The Reliquary Ring.

SFSite.com, http://www.sfsite.com/ (January 2, 2006, Victoria Strauss, review of The Reliquary Ring and The Roses of Roazon.

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