“[I] am a very happy man doing what is in effect my hobby for a living, i.e. writing stories for children.”—Dick King-Smith
Dick King-Smith grew up in Gloucestershire, England. He lives with his wife in a small 17th-century cottage, three and a quarter miles from the house in which he was born.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I was born in 1922 and was brought up in the countryside, surrounded by pet animals of one sort or another. I was first attracted to the girl I was later to marry through my admiration of her skill (in contrast to my own haphazard husbandry) as a breeder of parakeets. I was thirteen at the time, and she was twelve. It hasn’t worked out too badly, as we have been married for nearly sixty years, three children and ten grandchildren to the good.
I was educated at a preparatory school and then at Marlborough College, a boarding school for boys, where I was good at sports (but not very good) and showed reasonable intelligence (though not very great).
If I had an ambition, it was to be a farmer. But then along came the Second World War, and so I took the king’s shilling—that is to say, I enlisted as a soldier. I served as a platoon commander in the Grenadier Guards, beginning my active service at Salerno with the Allied invasion of Italy in September 1943 and ending it eleven months later when a German paratrooper threw a British hand grenade at me in the middle of an Italian forest and filled me full of holes.
My career in farming began in 1947, and though I think I was a decent stockman, my business acumen was extremely low. It was difficult to farm at a loss in those days, but I managed to lose money without fall every year from 1947 to 1967, when the bank manager called a halt.
Six months of selling aluminum-asbestos firefighting suits, boots, and helmets (I didn’t sell many) were followed by three and a half years as a time-and-motion man in a shoe factory (I never really understood the mathematics). Then I trained as a teacher and took a degree from Bristol University at the age of fifty-three, reading English and philosophy. I did well in philosophy even though I hadn’t the faintest idea what it was all about, and still haven’t.
Next came seven years as a teacher in a small village elementary school. I began with eight-year-olds, but it soon became plain that my always shaky grasp of the principles of arithmetic was not adequate for people of that advanced age, so I ended my teaching career with children of five and six.
By this time I had written my first four stories, and now—with time of my own—books began to spring up like mushrooms. In addition, I landed several little jobs as a presenter on children’s television, where I met a whole lot of delightful people and animals and much enjoyed performing in front of the camera.
I’m still turning out books hand over fist—now nearing a hundred in print in the United States, England, and Europe—mostly about animals: farmyard fantasy, I suppose you could call it, often about pigs, my special favorites. I enjoy writing for children so much, and meeting them, and knowing (because they tell me) that they get enjoyment from what I do.
I’m happy, and so are my wife and my children and my grandchildren and the bank manager. I’m a lucky man.
The Gallant Pig
—An ALA Notable Book
—A Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor Book
—A Horn Book Fanfare Honor Book
—An IRA/CBC Children’s Choice
—An NCTE Teachers’ Choice
“An animal fantasy which will inevitably be compared to Charlotte's Web. . . . Combines a robust pleasure in the smell and feel of rural surroundings with a humorous affection for all living creatures . . . a splendid book.”—Starred, The Horn Book Magazine
“Thoroughly engaging . . . chipper dialogue, generous helpings of humor and a lickety-split plot add up to an amusing chapter book.”—Publishers Weekly
“Amusing . . . a fine choice for early chapter-book readers.”—School Library Journal