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Barbara Ker Wilson Barbara Ker Wilson i(A15983 works by) (a.k.a. Barbara Ker Wilson)
Born: Established: 24 Sep 1929 Sunderland, Durham (County),
United Kingdom (UK),
Western Europe, Europe,
; Died: Ceased: 10 Sep 2020
Gender: Female
Arrived in Australia: 1964
Heritage: English
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As a child, Barbara Ker Wilson used to accompany her father to a large publishing office in London, to deliver the corrected proofs of his latest engineering textbook, and she knew then that she wanted to work in the world of writing and publishing. Her first 'successful' work, written when she was eight, was a play based on the coronation of King George VI, performed at her primary school in England. Throughout her childhood she wrote poetry, short stories and unfinished 'novels'. She was later educated at North London Collegiate School, England. The Second World War influenced Ker Wilson greatly, particularly the experience of living through air raids in London. With the end of the war she had her first experience of travelling abroad; ever since, she has travelled extensively in Europe and Asia.

As a writer, her primary interest was to tell a story, and she returned repeatedly to the refreshing vigour of the world's original stories - folktales - that she regarded as the springboard for all fiction. As an editor, Ker Wilson worked mainly with books for young readers. She worked as an editor for a number of publishing companies in England, including Bodley Head, for whom she edited C. S. Lewis's The Last Battle (1956). She also wrote several books for children before moving to Australia in 1964.

Ker Wilson continued her publishing career with Angus & Robertson, Hodder & Stoughton, Readers Digest and University of Queensland Press. While she was with Angus & Robertson, she instigated the Australian exhibitions at the Bologna Book Fair. She lectured on writing for children at schools and libraries throughout Australia. She was married to Peter Tahourdin, a composer, and they had two daughters. 

In addition to works individually indexed on AustLit, Barbara Ker Wilson is also the author of a biography of English children's writer Noel Streatfeild (London: Bodley Head, 1961), published before she arrived in Australia.

Most Referenced Works


  • For information about this author's works for children not included in AustLit, see Australian Children's Books by Marcie Muir and Kerry White (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1992-2003).
  • The Papers of Barbara Ker Wilson, covering the period 1981-1988, are held at the Academy Library, University of New South Wales, Canberra.

Personal Awards

2004 Order of Australia Member of the Order of Australia (AM) For service to literature as an editor and author, and as a mentor to emerging writers.
1999 Dromkeen Medal
1997 winner Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) The Pixie O'Harris Award for Services to Children's Books

Awards for Works

y separately published work icon Hands Up! : Who Enjoyed their Schooldays St Lucia : University of Queensland Press , 1994 Z68722 1994 anthology short story prose extract biography young adult

'An anthology of experiences told by 21 Australian writers, including Henry Handel Richardson, Alan Marshall, Sally Morgan, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Brian Caswell and school students.'

1995 Selected International Awards White Ravens
y separately published work icon The Illustrated Treasury of Australian Stories and Verse for Children Melbourne : Nelson , 1987 Z857748 1987 anthology children's fiction poetry children's
1988 joint winner Australian Bicentennial Authority Anthology Award

Known archival holdings

University of New South Wales Australian Defence Force Academy Australian Defence Force Academy Library (ACT)
Albinski 238
Last amended 14 Oct 2020 13:02:23
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