Katherine Rundell
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Katherine Rundell (born 1987) is an English author and academic. She is the author of ''Rooftoppers'', which in 2015 won both the overall
Waterstones Children's Book Prize The Waterstones Children's Book Prize is an annual award given to a work of children's literature Children's literature or juvenile literature includes stories, books, magazines, and poems that are created for children. Modern children's ...
and the
Blue Peter Book Award The Blue Peter Book Awards were a set of literary awards for children's literature, children's books conferred by the BBC television programme ''Blue Peter''. They were inaugurated in 2000 for books published in 1999. The Awards have been managed ...
for Best Story, and was short-listed for the Carnegie Medal. She is a Fellow of
All Souls College, Oxford All Souls College (official name: College of the Souls of All the Faithful Departed) is a Colleges of the University of Oxford, constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Unique to All Souls, all of its members automatically b ...
and has appeared as an expert guest on
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programmes including '' Start the Week'', ''
Poetry Please ''Poetry Please'' is a weekly radio programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in which listeners request poems, which are then read by a cast of actors. It is broadcast on Sunday afternoons and repeated the following Saturday night. The current presenter ...
'', '' Seriously...''. and '' Private Passions''. Rundell's other books include ''The Girl Savage'' (2011), released in 2014 in a slightly revised form as ''Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms'' in the United States, where it was the winner of the 2015 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for fiction, ''The Wolf Wilder'' (2015), and ''The Explorer'' (2017), winner of the children's book prize at the 2017 Costa Book Awards. Her 2022 book ''Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne'' won the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction, making her the youngest ever winner of the award.


Early life

Rundell was born in
Kent Kent is a Counties of England, county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north-west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west, and Essex to the north across the estuary of the River ...
, England in 1987 and spent ten years in
Harare Harare (; formerly Salisbury ) is the capital and most populous city of Zimbabwe Zimbabwe (), officially the Republic of Zimbabwe, is a landlocked country located in Southeast Africa, between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers, bordered ...
, Zimbabwe, where her father was a diplomat. When she was 14 years old, her family moved to Brussels; Rundell later told ''
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''s Tim de Lisle that it was a culture shock, saying:
"In Zimbabwe, school ended every day at 1 o’clock. I didn’t wear shoes, and there was none of the teenage culture that exists in Europe. My friends and I were still climbing trees and having swimming competitions".
De Lisle notes, "She gives Belgium some credit for broadening her mind But she resented it too, to the point where all her books, and her play, contain a joke at Belgium's expense". She completed her undergraduate studies at
St Catherine's College, Oxford St Catherine's College (colloquially called St Catz or Catz) is one of the Colleges of the University of Oxford, constituent colleges of the University of Oxford and is the newest college admitting both undergraduate and graduate students. Traci ...
(2005 – 2008). During this period she developed an interest in rooftop climbing, inspired by a 1937 book, ''
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'', about the adventures of undergraduate students at that university.


Academic career

Shortly after graduating, Rundell successfully applied to become a fellow in English Literature at All Souls College, Oxford. She told ''
The Bookseller ''The Bookseller'' is a British magazine reporting news on the publishing industry. Philip Jones is editor-in-chief of the weekly print edition of the magazine and the website. The magazine is home to the Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title ...
''s Anna James that the application process had involved a three-hour written examination on the single word "novelty", and added: "I wrote about Derridean deconstructionist theory and Christmas crackers ..I feel like they might have let me in despite rather than because of it." Rundell subsequently completed a doctoral thesis, titled And I am re-begot': the textual afterlives of John Donne".


Writing career

Rundell's first book, published in 2011, was ''The Girl Savage''; it told the story of Wilhelmina Silver, a girl from Zimbabwe, who is sent to an English boarding-school following the death of her father. A slightly revised version was released in the United States in 2014, under the title ''Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms'', where it won the 2015 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for fiction. Her second book, ''Rooftoppers'', followed the adventures of Sophie, apparently orphaned in a shipwreck on her first birthday. Sophie later attempts to find her mother, who she is convinced survived the disaster, whilst also taking to the rooftops of Paris in order to thwart officials trying to send her to a British orphanage. It won the overall
Waterstones Children's Book Prize The Waterstones Children's Book Prize is an annual award given to a work of children's literature Children's literature or juvenile literature includes stories, books, magazines, and poems that are created for children. Modern children's ...
and the
Blue Peter Book Award The Blue Peter Book Awards were a set of literary awards for children's literature, children's books conferred by the BBC television programme ''Blue Peter''. They were inaugurated in 2000 for books published in 1999. The Awards have been managed ...
for Best Story, and was short-listed for the Carnegie Medal. Translated into French by Emmanuelle Ghez as ''Le ciel nous appartient'' for Les Grandes Personnes it was the winner of the 2015 Prix Sorcières Junior novels category. Rundell's third novel, ''The Wolf Wilder'', tells the story of Feodora, who prepares wolf cubs – kept as status-symbol pets by wealthy Russians – for release into the wild when they become too large and unmanageable for their owners. Rundell's play ''Life According to Saki'', with David Paisley in the title role, won the 2016 Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award and opened
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in February 2017. Rundell's fourth novel, ''The Explorer,'' tells the survival story of a group of children whose plane crashes in the Amazon rainforest, and a secret they uncover. It won the 2017 Costa Book Award in the Children's Book category. Following the award, Rundell discussed the book's environmental themes and her research, which included eating tinned tarantulas, on BBC Radio 4's '' Front Row''. It won the 2018 Edward Stanford Travel Writing Award in the Food & Travel Book of the Year category. In 2022, she published ''Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne'', which won the 2022 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction and praised by
Claire Tomalin Claire Tomalin (née Delavenay; born 20 June 1933) is an English journalist and biographer, known for her biographies of Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Samuel Pepys, Jane Austen and Mary Wollstonecraft. Early life Tomalin was born Claire Delave ...
and
Andrew Motion Sir Andrew Motion (born 26 October 1952) is an English poet, novelist, and biographer, who was Poet Laureate from 1999 to 2009. During the period of his laureateship, Motion founded the Poetry Archive, an online resource of poems and audio re ...
, among others. As reported by ''
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'', "She is giving the Baillie Gifford prize money to charity: to Blue Ventures, an ocean-based conservation organisation, and also to a refugee charity. The reason? 'No man is an island,' she says, citing that most famous of all Donne lines."


Personal life

Rundell's hobbies include tightrope walking and roof walking, and she says she begins each day with a cartwheel because "reading is almost exactly the same as cartwheeling: it turns the world upside down and leaves you breathless".


Publications

* * * * *''The Explorer''. Illustrated by Hannah Horn. Bloomsbury Publishing, 1 September 2017. * * *


References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Rundell, Katherine 1987 births Living people 21st-century English women writers Alumni of St Catherine's College, Oxford British women children's writers English women writers Fellows of All Souls College, Oxford