Peter (Malcolm de Brissac) Dickinson (1927-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights
Born 1927, in Livingstone, Northern Rhodesia (Now Zambia); children: (first marriage) Philippa Lucy Anne, Dorothy Louise, John Geoffrey Hyett, James
Christopher Meade. Education: Attended Eton College, five years; King's College, Cambridge, B.A., 1951. Politics: "Leftish." Religion: "Lapsed Anglican."
Agent—A. P. Watt, Ltd., 20 John St., London WC1N 2DL, England.
Writer of mystery novels and juvenile books. Punch, London, England, assistant editor, 1952-69. Military service: British Army, 1946-48 ("chaotic period as a conscript").
Crime Writers Association.
Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger award for best mystery of the year, 1968, for The Glass-Sided Ants' Nest, and 1969, for The Old English Peep Show; American Library Association Notable Book Award, 1971, for Emma Tupper's Diary; Horn Book nonfiction award, c. 1976, for Chance, Luck, and Destiny; Guardian Award, 1977, for The Blue Hawk; Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for nonfiction, 1977; Whitbread Award and Carnegie Medal, both 1979, both for Tulku; The Flight of Dragons and Tulku were named to the American Library Association's "Best Books for Young Adults" list, 1979; Carnegie Medal, 1982, for "City of Gold"; Whit-bread Award, 1990, for AK; Blue Ribbon citation, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, 1996, for Chuck and Danielle.
The Weathermonger (first novel in a trilogy; also see below), Gollancz (London, England), 1968, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1969.
Heartsease (second novel in a trilogy; also see below), illustrated by Robert Hales, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1969.
The Devil's Children (third novel in a trilogy; also see below), illustrated by Hales, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1970.
Emma Tupper's Diary, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1971.
The Dancing Bear, illustrated by David Smee, Gollancz (London, England), 1972, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1973.
The Iron Lion, illustrated by Marc Brown, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1972.
The Gift, illustrated by Gareth Floyd, Gollancz (London, England), 1973, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1974.
The Changes: A Trilogy (contains The Weathermonger, Heartsease, and The Devil's Children), Gollancz (London, England), 1975.
(Editor) Presto! Humorous Bits and Pieces, Hutchinson (London, England), 1975.
Chance, Luck, and Destiny (miscellany), illustrated by David Smee and Victor Ambrus, Gollancz (London, England), 1975, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1976.
The Blue Hawk, illustrated by David Smee, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1976.
Annerton Pit, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1977.
Tulku, Dutton (New York, NY), 1979.
Hepzibah, illustrated by Sue Porter, Eel Pie (Twickenham, England), 1978, David R. Godine (New York, NY), 1980.
City of Gold and Other Stories from the Old Testament, illustrated by Michael Foreman, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1980, released as City of Gold, illustrated by Foreman, Houghton Mifflin (New York, NY), 1992.
The Seventh Raven, Dutton (New York, NY), 1981.
Giant Cold, illustrated by Alan E. Cober, Dutton (New York, NY), 1981.
Healer, Gollancz (London, England), 1983, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1985.
(Editor) Hundreds and Hundreds, Penguin (London, England), 1984.
Mole Hole, Peter Bedrick (London, England), 1987.
Merlin Dreams, illustrated by Alan Lee, Chivers Press (London, England), 1987, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1988.
A Box of Nothing, illustrated by Ian Newsham, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1988.
Eva, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1989.
AK, Gollancz (London, England), 1990, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1992.
A Bone from a Dry Sea, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1993.
Time and the Clock Mice, Etcetera, illustrated by Emma Chichester-Clark, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1994.
Shadow of a Hero, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1994.
Chuck and Danielle, illustrated by Kees de Kiefte, Bantam (New York, NY), 1996.
The Lion Tamer's Daughter and Other Stories, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1997.
The Ropemaker, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2001.
The Tears of the Salamander, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.
(With Robin McKinley) Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits (stories) Putnam (New York, NY), 2002.
Inside Grandad, Random House (New York, NY), 2003, published in England as The Gift Boat, Macmillan (London, England), 2004.
"KIN" SERIES; YOUNG ADULT NOVELS
The Kin (also see below; contains "Noli's Story," "Po's Story," "Suth's Story," and "Mana's Story,") Macmillan (London, England), 1998, Penguin (New York, NY), 2003.
Noli's Story, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1998.
Po's Story, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1998.
Suth's Story, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1998.
Mana's Story, Grosset & Dunlap (New York, NY), 1999.
MYSTERY NOVELS FOR ADULTS
The Glass-Sided Ants' Nest, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1968, published in England as Skin Deep, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1968.
The Old English Peep Show, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1969, published in England as A Pride of Heroes, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1969.
The Sinful Stones, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1970, published in England as The Seals, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1970.
Sleep and His Brother, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1971.
The Lizard in the Cup, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1972.
The Green Gene, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1973.
The Poison Oracle, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1974.
The Lively Dead, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1975.
King and Joker, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1976.
Walking Dead, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1977, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1978.
One Foot in the Grave, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1979, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1980.
The Last House-Party, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1982.
Hindsight, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1983.
Death of a Unicorn, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1984.
Skeleton-in-Waiting, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1989.
Play Dead, Bodley Head (London, England), 1991, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1992.
The Yellow Room Conspiracy, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1994.
Some Deaths before Dying, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Mandog (television series), British Broadcasting Co. (BBC-TV), 1972.
(Contributor) Otto Penzler, editor, The Great Detectives (nonfiction), Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1978.
The Flight of Dragons, illustrated by Wayne Anderson, Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1979.
(Contributor) Julian Symons, editor, Verdict of Thirteen (contains short story, "Who Killed the Cat?"), Harper & Row (New York, NY), 1979.
A Summer in the Twenties (novel), Pantheon (New York, NY), 1981.
Tefuga: A Novel of Suspense, Bodley Head (London, England), 1985, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1986.
Perfect Gallows: A Novel of Suspense, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1987.
The British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC) produced a television serial based on Dickinson's Changes trilogy, 1975; The Flight of Dragons was adapted as an animated television film by the American Broadcasting Co. (ABC) and broadcast January 1, 1982. A cassette recording was made of A Box of Nothing by G. K. Hall, 1988.
"I believe the crucial thing for a writer is the ability to make up coherent worlds," Peter Dickinson explained to New York Times Book Review contributor Eden Ross Lipson. "I'm like a beachcomber walking along the shores of invention, picking up things and wondering what kinds of structures they could make…. The imagination is like the sea, full of things you can't see but can possibly harvest and use." It is Dickinson's fertile imagination that distinguishes his mystery novels and children's books from those of many of his contemporaries. His mysteries are spiced with such seemingly incompatible elements as aborigine societies living in London, chimpanzees who are murder witnesses, and diseases that have telepathic side-effects.
His stories for children contain such oddities as kids with remarkable healing powers and an ancient magician doped up on morphine. "For all their variety," John Rowe Townsend asserted in his A Sounding of Storytellers: New and Revised Essays on Contemporary Writers for Children, "the books have much in common: strong professional storytelling, rapid action and adventure, continual invention, a proliferating interest in ideas, and an understanding of how things are done. Behind all this one glimpses an energetic, speculative mind with a leaning towards the exotic."
Like his writing, Dickinson's personal background is also exotic. His father was a British civil servant working in Zambia—what was then the colony of Northern Rhodesia—and it was there that Dickinson was born and lived the first seven years of his life. In 1935 his family returned to England, but not long after their arrival Dickinson's father died. Fortune took a turn for the better, however, when the author won a scholarship in 1941 to attend Eton College. After leaving Eton and serving in the army in the aftermath of World War II as a district signals officer—Dickinson was too young to fight during the war—he studied at King's College, Cambridge. Although he had begun studying Latin, Dickinson later switched to English literature, and it was one of his English tutors who convinced him to apply for a position as assistant editor at Punch, the well-known London humor magazine.
Getting an appointment for an interview did not turn out to be as difficult as actually arriving at the Punch offices, for on his way there Dickinson was hit by a tram. Despite the accident, the aspiring editor made it to the interview, his clothing stained with blood, and was accepted for the job. For the next seventeen years Dickinson worked for Punch, including five years during which he reviewed crime novels. After reading and analyzing literally thousands of these books, he began to think about writing one of his own. But he did not want his novel to be just another story about a murder. With knowledge of a wide variety of topics, including anthropology, trains, languages, antiques, and history, Dickinson decided to use his learning to add a twist to his writing. Thus his first book, Skin Deep—published in the United States as The Glass-Sided Ants' Nest—employs certain facts about anthropology to weave a bizarre mystery concerning a tribe of aborigines from New Guinea who have settled in London only to have their chief murdered.
Of his adult mysteries, Dickinson's books featuring detective James Pibble are probably best known, but the author has also written a number of other quirky mysteries featuring out-of-the-ordinary detectives faced with unusual challenges. Dickinson's stories are often set in familiar places made slightly off-balance by science-fiction-like elements. This sort of invention is the key to Dickinson's children's novels, too. A vivid dreamer, the author sometimes sees elements of his plots in his sleep and then builds a story around them. In an online interview with Mystery World, he said: "Writing a book in one sense is like having a knock on your door and you open the door and see what comes in. You say, 'I've got to introduce a new character here….' Gradually this person becomes the only per son she could be and you know what's right for her. It's like that." Fiction, he told the London Daily Telegraph, is "not about preaching messages, but understanding—including the understanding of how people can be so beastly to each other."
Dickinson published his first book for children, The Weathermonger, the same year as his first mystery novel. The Weathermonger became the first book in a trilogy, including Heartsease and The Devil's Children, all later published in one book, The Changes: A Trilogy. The Changes describes a modern-day England whose populace has developed a mysterious aversion to all types of technology—as well as a general xenophobia—with the result that the entire country is thrown into another Dark Age. Another side effect of the Changes is that it gives some people the power to manipulate the weather. In The Weathermonger, Geoffrey, along with his sister, Sally, is sent on a mission to find out what has been causing the Changes. The source turns out to be of a magical nature: a chemist named Furbelow has discovered King Arthur's wizard, Merlin, and revived him from a centuries-old sleep only to manipulate him by getting the magician addicted to morphine. Geoffrey and Sally put an end to England's second Dark Age by curing Merlin of his addiction and returning him to his place of rest.
The next book in the trilogy, Heartsease, tells a story that occurs before the events in The Weathermonger. England is still in the midst of the Changes when Margaret and Jonathan find an American investigator who has been stoned by the British, who thought he was a witch. The two children, along with their house servant, Lucy, help the American escape back to Gloucester, where he gets a boat to return to the United States. Dickinson backs up yet again in The Devil's Children, this time setting his narrative at the very beginning of the time of the Changes, when a group of Sikhs—who have not developed the fear of technology like the British—escapes persecution with the help of a twelve-year-old English girl named Nicola. S. F. Said in the London Daily Telegraph noted that the three titles in the Changes trilogy "were landmarks of the Sixties, read in schools and broadcast on TV." The trilogy is still in print and is sometimes recommended to students who enjoy challenging and morally ambiguous stories.
Dickinson's next children's book, Emma Tupper's Diary, was an American Library Association Notable Book. Set in the present day, this story about a young girl's summer vacation with her cousins, who live near a Scottish loch, at first seems like mainstream fiction. The story begins to delve into fantasy, however, when Emma's cousins decide to contrive a grand ruse by repairing their grandfather's submarine and disguising it as a sea monster much like the famed Loch Ness Monster. The surprise comes when Emma and one of her cousins take the submarine for a spin and discover living Plesiosaurs swimming in the loch.
A number of Dickinson's other children's books, including The Gift, Annerton Pit, and Healer, have contemporary, realistic settings upon which the author imposes extraordinary elements. In each of these novels, a child possesses—or seems to possess—amazing powers. Davy Price in The Gift has inherited the ability to see the images that other people form in their minds. This leads to danger for Davy when he chances upon the thoughts of a murderous psychopath. In Annerton Pit the ability of Jake to communicate with a mysterious being is more ambiguous. Kidnapped by a group of environmental terrorists and imprisoned in an abandoned mine, Jake—who is blind—is not put to as much of a disadvantage as his sighted brother, Martin, whom he helps to escape. During their escape, however, Jake comes into telepathic and empathic contact with an unseen creature living inside the hill who tries to chase away the intruders by filling the mine with a sense of terror. At least, this is what Jake believes; but Dickinson keeps open the possibility that the monster exists only in Jake's mind.
The collection The Lion Tamer's Daughter and Other Stories consists of four tales that all show characters moving from one world to another. Nancy Vasilakis observed in Horn Book: "Complex and unsettling, the stories are above all a testament to the author's potent imagination." With Healer, Dickinson explores the emotions and thoughts of not one but two complex characters. Barry is a sixteen-year-old boy with a second, inner personality he names "Bear" because of its more animalistic impulses. The struggle between his two personalities gives him migraine headaches, which are cured one day by a girl named Pinkie who has remarkable healing powers. Pinkie's stepfather takes advantage of his daughter's talent by establishing a cult around her called the "Foundation of Harmony" and charging people huge sums of money for Pinkie's services. Pinkie, however, is restricted to her house by her stepfather, so Barry resolves to rescue her from her imprisonment. Ostensibly a tale of adventure, Healer is also one "from which one peels different levels of meaning layer by layer," according to a Junior Bookshelf reviewer, as Barry learns to live with his inner self and Pinkie relinquishes some of her overly serious attitudes about life by learning how to laugh.
The Gift, Annerton Pit, and Healer are all good illustrations of Dickinson's interest in the psychology of his characters. But Healer also explores another one of the author's preoccupations: religion and religious cults. Although Dickinson's parents were religious and he had read through the Bible before he was ten years old, the author revealed in Eden Ross Lipson's New York Times Book Review article that he is "completely without faith." Nevertheless, as Healer reveals, he is interested in religious faith. This fascination is also manifest in some of the author's other novels, such as the distant-future science fiction work The Blue Hawk and the historical work Tulku.
The 1987 work Merlin Dreams displays Dickinson's talent for language and storytelling. A series of nine stories, all dealing with powers of one sort or another, are presented as the dreams of a sleeping Merlin who is near the end of his life. All of the stories contain medieval elements such as knights and damsels, and Merlin himself appears in some of them. Horn Book contributor Ann A. Flowers, while asserting that the interludes of the dreaming Merlin may be "puzzling to the young reader," noted that "all the stories are splendid and a pleasure to read." Christina L. Olson stated in School Library Journal that while the collection "works on the level of pure story," the author's "language works on readers as well." "It's the language of a spellbinder," Barbara Sherrard-Smith explained in School Librarian, concluding that "this is one of those rare joys, a book to be read quickly to find out what happens next, then to be savoured again and again."
One of Dickinson's most controversial works for children is Eva, a book that addresses the author's concerns about human society and the impact it has had on the ecology of the earth. Severely injured and paralyzed in a car accident, Eva is "saved" by having her memory transplanted into the body of a chimpanzee. After regaining consciousness, Eva must adjust not only to her new body, with its chimp impulses, but to the corporate sponsorship that makes her the focus of media attention. She eventually decides to leave human society, taking a group of captive chimps with her to a remote island. Calling Eva "an astonishing work of biological science fiction," Horn Book writer Ethel L. Heins remarked that this adventure story "is also a work of passion and eloquence, and its sobering significance increases in proportion to the reader's maturity." Times Literary Supplement reviewer Neil Philip concluded that Eva "is one of the better books of a first-rate writer. It is highly provocative, it has tenderness, humour and passion. It involves the reader from the very first page and will not quickly leave the mind."
In an extended Horn Book essay, Betty Carter cited Eva as a good illustration of Dickinson's place as a thought-provoking author for young adults. "The topics raised in Eva transcend the fleeting concerns of adolescence," Carter wrote. "Dickinson shows tremendous respect for his readers and their ability to grapple with hard issues that range from euthanasia to the influence of the media…. He gives readers no logical wiggle room in which to build a softer interpretation of this deteriorating society. They can question, challenge, regret, confront, dismiss, or accept it, but they cannot change it…. Herereaders are on their own, as they should be, full of questions with no certain answers. And that is the power of literature—to provide an arena where young people can encounter unimaginable situations."
A similarly provocative work is AK, in which Dickinson writes about a fictional African nation that has been torn by civil war. Paul Kagomi has known nothing but conflict during his twelve years, having known no family except the other members of the Nagala Liberation Army. He defines himself by his weapon—the AK-47 of the title—and is left confused when the war ends and he is sent to school by his foster father, who is now a member of the government. When a coup leads to yet more struggle, Paul escapes his father's enemies, retrieves his gun, and mounts a rescue attempt. Dickinson shows, however, that victories achieved through violence are fragile, and "carefully structures his conclusion so the lesson of ambiguity is the one we carry away," as Michele Slung summarized in the New York Times Book Review. Although Dickinson's locale is imaginary, the events are truthful, Margaret A. Bush observed in Horn Book: "The absorbing story is disturbing in its plausibility and creates a thoughtful exploration of the dynamics of war." Michael Dirda similarly praised the novel in the Washington Post Book World: "When young-adult novels are as riveting as AK, by the prolific and imaginative Peter Dickinson, it's a shame that only teenagers are likely to pick them up."
The book Shadow of a Hero parallels the Balkan conflicts of the early 1990s. Thirteen-year-old Letta, the granddaughter of the former prime minister of the fictional Eastern European country Varina, lives in London with her family. Letta's grandfather is also a descendant of the Legendary Varinian hero, Restaur Vax. Chapters of the book alternate between Letta's current life in London where her grandfather is teaching her the Varinian language and about the country's contemporary political upheaval, and legendary Varinian history. Readers come to learn about all the bloodshed and betrayal marking Varina's history, and of the pending tragedy in modern Varina. Roger Sutton wrote in Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books: "Dickinson mixes fiction and fact with confidence." Horn Book reviewer Ann A. Flowers concluded that the book is "a tour de force of a novel … intelligent, complex, and as up-to-date as today's headlines."
In contrast to his historical, political, and other "heavier" novels, Dickinson has written lighthearted books, sometimes featuring animals as the main characters. Chuck and Danielle is a story about Danielle and her high-strung dog—a whippet nicknamed Chuck. Danielle has made a bet with her mother that someday Chuck would save the universe. The book details the antics of Chuck, whom a Kirkus Reviews critic described as an "antihero," and Danielle—and Danielle wins her bet! Put together in an unusual format, Time and the Clockmice, Etcetera uses "a standard animal fantasy to introduce a selection of factual topics," Alasdair Campbell remarked in School Librarian. The story begins when the main attraction of Branton, a 99-year-old town hall clock, stops. The clockmaker's grandson, who is now old, comes to repair the clock and discovers a group of super-intelligent mice who can communicate via ESP, and whose safety and existence are threatened by cats and human research scientists. The old man befriends the mice and tells readers, in detail, how to fix the clock and how it works, etc. The book is a series of "essays" on such topics as bells, people, clocks, science, cats, etc.—thus the word in the title. Time and the Clockmice is enhanced by the illustrations of Emma Chichester-Clark, and the result, noted Campbell, "becomes a visual treat as well as a literary hotchpotch."
Dickinson's saga The Kin was first published in Great Britain in one volume and first published in America as four separate volumes. Set in Africa approximately 200,000 years ago, the stories in The Kin follow four children as they venture into adulthood together, struggling to survive after they are separated from their extended family group and threatened by a series of natural disasters and animal predators. What separates The Kin from pure adventure yarn is Dickinson's preoccupation with deeper questions of humanity, as represented by these proto-Homo sapiens youngsters. They communicate by language, but they befriend a wounded man who does not speak. They must use their wits to find food, shelter, and to thwart danger, but they also have time to think about what they mean to each other and how the world has come to be. In the London Daily Telegraph, Mary Hoffman called the book "a remarkable work…. Dickinson has created a completely be lievable and compelling culture and history from a period which has left virtually no trace." A reviewer for Books for Keeps called The Kin "writing of the finest quality," and A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised one segment of the work, Noli's Story, for "the exhilarating mix of ideas the novel so nimbly sets forth."
With The Ropemaker and The Tears of the Salamander Dickinson returns to fantasy and science fiction themes. In The Ropemaker, Tilja and Tahl must undertake a pilgrimage to find a powerful magician who has traditionally protected their homeland from its war-mongering neighbors. Part adventure tale, part character study, The Ropemaker explores how young people come to terms with their special skills. "While on one level this tale is a fantasy, it is also a wonderful coming-of-age story," noted Bruce Anne Shook in a starred School Library Journal review. A Publishers Weekly critic declared Dickinson's mythic world in The Ropemaker "as breath-takingly fresh as it is archetypal."
Thirteen-year-old Alfredo is thrust into a fantastic world in The Tears of the Salamander. When his beloved father's bakery burns down, Alfredo is orphaned with no prospects, save the unsavory fate of submitting to castration so that he can always sing soprano for the Church. Arriving in the nick of time, Alfredo's Uncle Giorgio offers another option: Alfredo can come and live on the slopes of Mount Etna in the family ancestral home. Alfredo soon discovers that much is amiss in the shadow of the mighty volcano, and as his beautiful singing wrings tears from a magic salamander, he realizes that his uncle has sinister ambitions for immortality and world domination. Offering the work a starred review, a Publishers Weekly critic noted that "burning questions" animate the "engrossing, almost operatic novel," recommended for the most thoughtful readers. In Horn Book, Joanna Rudge Long concluded that the novel "makes a unique and satisfying addition to Dickinson's remarkable oeuvre."
Inside Grandad is a gentler tale of fantasy and reconciling oneself to the changes wrought by the passage of time. Gavin and his grandfather enjoy a deep bond in their Scottish seacoast town. As Gavin's grandfather completes a model boat, he tells Gavin legends of the selkies—a mystical race of seal-people who can work good or ill in humans' lives. Shortly after completing the boat, Gavin's grandfather suffers a crippling stroke, leaving Gavin to bargain with the selkies for restoration of his beloved family member's health. A Kirkus Reviews critic deemed the novel "a touching story of love and determination," and a contributor to the Bulletin concluded: "Consistently written from a child's viewpoint, this is a story insightfully developed and satisfyingly unexpected."
Whether in his crime novels or his children's books, creating finely-realized fictional worlds has always been a primary concern for Dickinson. "The crucial thing about any act of the imagination," Dickinson maintained in an article for Children's Literature in Education, "is its self-coherence, the way in which each part of it fits with all the other parts and by doing so authenticates them. This is the way in which we know and authenticate our real world." But why is this relationship between the imaginary and the real important? "It matters," said Dickinson, "because it is imagination which makes us what we are. It is the core of our humanity." Not only is imagination "humankind's prime evolutionary specialization," which has allowed humans to evolve a high level of intelligence, the author argued, but it is also what "continues to make us what we are." This is why—even with the advent of television—literature remains an important part of living. Dickinson concluded that reading "invites the exercise of the imagination, the enlargement of the imaginative sympathies, the increase of our potential as human beings."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Volume 49, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2003.
Children's Literature Review, Volume 29, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1993.
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 35, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1985.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 161: British Children's Writers since 1960, First Series, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1996, pp. 109-124.
St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, 2nd edition, St. James (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Townsend, John Rowe, A Sounding of Storytellers: New and Revised Essays on Contemporary Writers for Children, Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1979, pp. 41-54.
Townsend, John Rowe, Writing for Children: An Outline of English-Language Children's Literature, revised edition, Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1974.
Twentieth-Century Young Adult Writers, St. James (Detroit, MI), 1994.
Books for Keeps, July, 1999, review of The Kin, p. 25.
Bulletin, March, 2004, review of Inside Grandad. Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January, 1995, Roger Sutton, review of Shadow of a Hero, pp. 163-164.
Children's Literature in Education, spring, 1986, Peter Dickinson, "Fantasy: The Need for Realism," pp. 39-51.
Daily Telegraph (London, England), October 15, 1998, Mary Hoffman, "What It Is to Be Human"; September 15, 2001, S. F. Said, "Power of a Word Wizard: Peter Dickinson Is the Children's Author That All the Rest Admire."
Guardian (London, England), November 9, 2002, "In Their Element," p. 33; July 12, 2003, Jan Mark, "Burning Desire," p. 33.
Horn Book, March-April, 1989, Ann A. Flowers, review of Merlin Dreams, p. 210; July-August, 1989, Ethel L. Heins, review of Eva, pp. 487-488; September-October, 1992, Margaret A. Bush, review of AK, p. 588; March-April, 1995, Ann A. Flowers, review of Shadow of a Hero, pp. 199-200; March-April, 1997, Nancy Vasilakis, review of The Lion Tamer's Daughter and Other Stories, pp. 195-196; September, 2001, Betty Carter, review of Eva, p. 541; November-December, 2001, Anita L. Burkam, review of The Ropemaker, p. 745; July-August, 2003, Joanna Rudge Long, review of The Tears of the Salamander, p. 453.
Independent, October 24, 1998, Nicholas Tucker, "Visionary Angels on a Bloody Earth."
Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 1995, review of Chuck and Danielle, p. 1701; December 15, 2003, review of Inside Grandad. New York Times Book Review, April 20, 1986, Eden Ross Lipson, "Write, Then Research, Then Rewrite"; September 27, 1992, Michele Slung, review of AK, p. 33.
Publishers Weekly, June 29, 1998, review of Noli's Story; November 5, 2001, review of The Ropemaker, p. 70; August 11, 2003, review of The Tears of the Salamander, p. 281.
School Librarian, February, 1989, Barbara Sherrard-Smith, review of Merlin Dreams, p. 21; May, 1994, Alasdair Campbell, review of Time and the Clockmice, Etcetera, p. 60.
School Library Journal, December, 1988, Christina L. Olson, review of Merlin Dreams, p. 120; April, 1989, Kathryn Harris, review of Eva, p. 118; November, 2001, Bruce Anne Shook, review of The Ropemaker, p. 154; June, 2002, John Peters, review of Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits, p. 142; August, 2003, Renee Steinberg, review of The Tears of the Salamander, p. 158.
Times Educational Supplement, October 23, 1998, Michael Thorn, "Back to Africa," p. 10.
Times Literary Supplement, March 3-9, 1988, Neil Philip, "Working with Nature," p. 232.
Washington Post Book World, August 9, 1992, Michael Dirda, review of AK, p. 11.
Mystery World, http://www.mystworld.com/youngwriter/authors/ (December 10, 2003), interview with Dickinson.
Rochester Library, http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/ (May 10, 1989), Raymond H. Thompson, "Interview with Peter Dickinson."