Author details

Joan Lingard


I was born in the heart of Edinburgh, in the Royal Mile, but lived in Belfast from aged two to eighteen. I then returned to Edinburgh, where I have lived more or less ever since, though I do spend time also in a cottage in Inverness-shire and the worst of the winter months in Spain. I am married to a Canadian, who came originally from Riga in Latvia, have three daughters and five grandchildren.

I began to write when I was eleven years old. I was an avid reader and consumed books at a ridiculously fast rate. One day when I was moaning in my mother's ear about having nothing to read she suggested I go and write a book of my own. This proved to be a turning point in my life: it was the first step on a path to becoming an author. I thought "Why shouldn't I write a book?" So I acquired some lined, foolscap paper, filled my fountain pen with green ink - green would be a suitable artistic colour for a writer I decided - and I began. From then on I only ever wanted to be a writer, specifically a novelist, and create characters and stories of my own. It seemed to be early on that life was limited, in that we inhabit one body, one mind, and see the world through one pair of eyes, but by reading we can enter into different worlds, get inside the skins and minds of other people and in so doing push out the boundaries of one’s own life.

To date I have published 16 novels for adults and more than 40 books for children.

About writer's work

The stories I have created have mostly come out of the backgrounds of my life or of people close to me. My Belfast years are responsible for the ‘Kevin and Sadie Quintet’ and The File on Fraulein Berg. Edinburgh inspired me to write the adult novels After You’ve Gone, set in Tollcross in 1924, The Kiss (Stockbridge and Paris), After Colette (Stockbridge, Paris and Burgundy), as well as earlier ones such as The Prevailing Wind (Marchmont) and The Second Flowering of Emily Mountjoy (Stockbridge). Stockbridge has featured frequently in my work since I live close to it, in the New Town. There, too, are set the children's books Rags and Riches and Glad Rags. Sanctuary for debtors in previous times within the confines of Holyrood Abbey led me to writing The Sign of the Black Dagger, giving me the opportunity to use the Royal Mile, my birthplace, as a setting. My husband's background inspired me to write Dreams of Love and Modest Glory, an adult novel set in Aberdeen, St Petersburg and Riga, and also for children Tug of War, the story of Latvian refugees fleeing from the Russians in 1944, with its sequel Between Two Worlds, set in Canada. Many of my books touch on the theme of displacement. Kevin and Sadie have to leave Belfast because of the Troubles. They become exiles, as does Natasha in Natasha’s Will, in flight from the Russian Revolution, or the fourteen year old twins Astra and Hugo in Tug of War, forced to flee in the wake of the Soviet invasion into Latvia in 1944. They have to leave behind their country, their home, their
livelihood, their culture; everything that they cannot carry with them and go out into the wilderness as refugees and become immigrants in a new country, without money, possessions, friends, unable even to speak the language. It is an ongoing story in the world today.

Prejudice, which can become violent and erupt into civil war, when neighbours, friends and even brothers, turn against each other, has also featured in my writing. In the ‘Kevin and Sadie Ulster quintet’, Catholic Kevin comes from a hardline Republican family and Sadie from a staunchly Loyalist one. When they become acquainted trouble erupts. In The File on Fraulein Berg three girls decide that all Germans are suspect and so they follow their German teacher Belfast spying on her, making her life miserable, whilst not knowing something vital about her background. Tell the Moon to Come Out deals with the aftermath of the very bloody Spanish Civil War in 1939. Sometimes displacement happens in a personal way, as in my adult novels The Kiss and Encarnita’s Journey. Change brings about new experiences and new challenges. When people are displaced from their pattern of living their lives suddenly become wide open and they have to readjust. They find themselves at a crossroad. What will they do? Which way will they go? The crossroads of change interest me very much as a writer. Adolescence is in itself a major crossroad in life, a time of change and upheaval, when one has to take decisions and form values for oneself. It is an exciting but often stressful and difficult time, for both the adolescents and their parents and,
therefore, provides much thought and material for a writer.

For younger children I have written about the preservation and protection of animals and birds. In The Egg Thieves the children set up an osprey-watch society to try to find out who is stealing the ospreys’ eggs. Tilly and her friend William in Tilly and the Wild Goats are determined to save the wild goats in their glen in the Scottish Borders from eviction. In Tilly and the Badgers they have another mission: to track down the gang involved in the cruel sport of badger-baiting. I have found that one does not write in any way chronologically, following the line in one’s own life. One moves backwards and forwards. I had had for many years a journal written by my naval father on a world trip in 1924 but it was only a couple of years ago that I incorporated part of it in a book, which resulted in After You’ve Gone (2007). My grandmother ran a pub in Green Lanes, Stoke Newington in London in the early part of the 20th century, something I have always known, yet it took me until last year to write about that too.

The Eleventh Orphan has been shortlisted for the West Sussex Book Award, Lancashire School Libraries Award and the United Kingdom Literacy Award.

MBE for Services to Children's Literature 1998
The Twelfth Day of July - ZDF Preis der Leseratten, West Germany 1986
Across the Barricades - Buxtehüder Bülle – West Germany 1987
After Colette - Scottish Arts Council Award 1994
Tom and the Tree House - Scottish Arts Council Award1998
Tug of War - shortlisted for the 1989 Carnegie Medal, 1989 Federation of children's Book Group Award, 1989, Sheffield Book Award, runner-up for 1990 Lancashire Children's Book Club of the Year
The Guilty Party - shortlisted for 1988 Federation of Children's Book Groups Award
The Sign of the Black Dagger - shortlisted for the 2006 Royal Mail Awards for Scottish Children's Books, nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Award 2007.

The Eleventh Orphan was shortlisted for three awards, The Scottish Royal Mail Award, The west Sussex Children's Book Award and the Fantastic Awards (run by Lancashire School Libraries.) and it was nominated for the Astrid Lindgren International Award in 2006.

Websites featuring the author

Current events and projects

Willing to do a limited number of talks at book festivals, in schools and libraries, to P3-7 & S1, also adults. Not available middle term, January -Easter. Re. authorities, it would depend very much on the event.

Please contact me through my literary agency, David Higham Associates.

Other work

Border Crossings : CD - Readings by 12 Scottish
writers (Scottish PEN)
The Twelfth Day of July (Cover to Cover)
Across the Barricades (Cover to Cover)
Rags and Riches (Chivers Audio Books)
Glad Rags (Chivers)
Tom and the Tree House (BBC Audio Books)
Tilly and the Wild Goats ((BBC )
Tilly and the Badgers (BBC)
Tell the Moon to Come Out (BBC)
Natasha’s Will (Oakhill Pub.)

Interviews and articles about Joan Lingard
The Primary English Magazine, Vol 6, No 4 ISSN
1361-8776 -
Alan Hill: Small books, Big Issues
Children’s Literature in Education 21, Summer 1976 APS
Publications -
David L. James : Joan Lingard: Values in the
IBBY Journal, 2004,Darja Mazi Leskovar - Joan
Lingard’s Kevin and Sadie novels and the U.N. Human
Stephanie Nettell: An Interview with Joan Lingard.
Children’s Books, 1988, British Book News, British
Valerie Bierman : A Sense of Place, Carousel Spring
(Interviews in various other journals.)

University theses
Across the Barricades - The Troubles in Children’s
Ulrike Weiss, Universitat Konstanz, 2002
Joan Lingard - Una Scrittrice Scozzese:
Maria M. Maltoni, Universila' Degli Studi di Bologna,

Archival material
Manuscripts held at National Library of Scotland, the
Linenhall Library, Belfast, Seven Stories, Newcastle
upon Tyne


Local authority where they are based


Local authorities where they can work

Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles), Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow, Highland, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Moray, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Orkney, Other1, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, Shetland, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian, Other

Age groups

0-4, 5-8, 9-12, Teens

LL funded


BRAW network


Author type




Books written

Tug of War

Tug of War

Author(s): Joan Lingard
Forced to flee Latvia with their family in 1944, twins Astra and Hugo journey to Germany in carts, on foot and by boat. But at a crowded station, Hugo is injured and separated from his family.
Between Two Worlds

Between Two Worlds

Author(s): Joan Lingard
Refugees from war-torn Europe. The twins, Astra and Hugo, have come to Canada with their family to seek a new life after the end of the Second World War.
Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows

Author(s): Joan Lingard
Jess Magowan is fifteen when she meets her cousin Laurie for the first time, at a music club in Belfast. A family feud has divided the cousins and at first they seem world's apart.
A Secret Place

A Secret Place

Author(s): Joan Lingard
When Antonio snatches his son and daughter from the school playground, they are obliging, having missed their father dreadfully. Then there is an exciting flight to Spain.
Across the Barricades

Across the Barricades

Author(s): Joan Lingard
Kevin and Sadie both know their relationship is dangerous.
Into Exile

Into Exile

Author(s): Joan Lingard
Kevin and Sadie run away to start a new life in London.
A Proper Place

A Proper Place

Author(s): Joan Lingard
Life in Belfast wasn't easy
Hostages to Fortune

Hostages to Fortune

Author(s): Joan Lingard
Will things ever go right for Kevin and Sadie? Just when things seem to be going right, Kevin's boss dies and his job disappears.
The Twelfth Day of July

The Twelfth Day of July

Author(s): Joan Lingard
It all began with a dare. The idea of sneaking into the Protestant area to daub slogans under the mural of King Billy seems thrilling and exciting to Kevin and his Catholic friends.