Jamila Gavin

Jamila Gavin FRSL (born 9 August 1941) is a British writer born in Mussoorie in the United Provinces of India, in the present-day state of Uttarakhand in the Western Himalayas. She is known mainly for children's books, including several with Indian contexts.


Gavin was born on 9 August 1941 in Mussoorie in the foothills of the Himalayas. Her Indian father and English mother had met as teachers in Iran. She learned to describe herself as "half and half". She says online that from her mixed background "I inherited two rich cultures which ran side by side throughout my life, and which always made me feel I belonged to both countries."

Gavin first visited England when she was six and settled there when she was 11. As an adult she worked in the music department of the BBC before becoming a writer. She wrote her first book, The Magic Orange Tree and Other Stories, in 1979. After her first child was born, she became aware that there were few children's books reflecting the experience of multi-racial children. She has also written books reflecting her childhood in India, particularly her Surya trilogy.

Gavin is a patron of the Shakespeare Schools Festival, a charity that allows schoolchildren across the UK to perform Shakespeare in professional theatres.

Gavin settled in Stroud, Gloucestershire before 1990 and was still living there in 2012. In 2016, she became one of the founders of the Stroud Book Festival, together with Cindy Jefferies.


The Surya trilogy – The Wheel of Surya (1992), The Eye of the Horse (1994) and The Track of the Wind (1997) – is a family saga following two generations of Indian Sikhs and showing the impact of the British Empire and the Partition of India on their lives. All three books made the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize shortlist; The Wheel of Surya was special runner-up.

Coram Boy won the 2000 Whitbread Prize as Children's Book of the Year. It is set in the 18th century, based on the Foundling Hospital established in London by sea Captain Thomas Coram. According to a local newspaper, the story "has links to Gloucestershire." Coram Boy has been adapted for the stage by Helen Edmundson and produced by the Royal National Theatre in 2005–2006 - garnering Edmundson an Olivier Award – as well on Broadway in 2007.

Three Indian Goddesses and Three Indian Princesses are collections of short stories based around Indian legends. Nine other short stories were collected as The Magic Orange Tree and Other Stories.

Grandpa Chatterji is a series for younger children, named after its first book, which was adapted for television in 1997. Other books in the series are Grandpa Chatterji's Third Eye and Grandpa's Indian Summer. The first book made the Smarties Prize shortlist for reader ages 6–8.

Jamila Gavin has also written The Robber Baron's Daughter, Forbidden Memories, I Want to be An Angel, Kamla and Kate, Someone's Watching, Someone's Waiting, The Hideaway and The Wormholers.


  • The Magic Orange Tree and other stories (1979)
  • Three Indian Princesses (1987)
  • The Singing Bowls (1989)
  • See No Evil (2008)
  • Grandpa Chatterji (1993)
  • Surya trilogy
    • The Wheel of Surya (Methuen, 1992)
    • The Eye of the Horse (Methuen, 1994)
    • The Track of the Wind (Mammoth, 1997)
  • Grandpa's Indian Summer (1995)
  • The Wormholers (1996)
  • The Girl Who Rode on a Lion
  • The Temple by the Sea
  • The Lake of Stars
  • Our Favorite Stories (1997)
  • The Monkey in the Stars (date?) — adapted by Gavin as a play for children, Monkeys in the Stars (2001)
  • Coram Boy (2000)
  • Grandpa Chatterji's Third Eye (2006)
  • Fine Feathered Friend (1996)
  • Three Indian Goddesses (2001)
  • Star Child On Clark Street
  • Danger By Moonlight (2002)
  • Out of India: Walking on My Hands
  • Out of India: An Anglo Indian Childhood (1997)
  • The Whistling Monster
  • Celebration Stories, Coming Home
  • An Interview With Jamila Gavin
  • From Out of the Shadows
  • The Blood Stone (2003)
  • The Robber Baron's Daughter
  • Deadly Friend (1994)
  • I Want to be An Angel (1990)
  • Forbidden Memories
  • Kamla and Kate (1983)
  • Kamla and Kate Again
  • Someone's Watching, Someone's Waiting
  • The Hideaway (1987)
  • Double Dare
  • Storyworlds (Heinemann, 1996), illustrated by Rhian Nest James
    • Grandma's Surprise
    • The Mango Tree
    • Presents
    • Who Did It?
  • Digital Dan
  • Ali and the Robots (1986)
  • Stories From the Hindu World (1986)
  • The Bow of Shiva
  • The Turning Point
  • Alexander the Greatest (Walker, 2009), illus. Sumito Sakakibara
  • Fox
  • Derka Derb
  • Alexander the Great: Man, Myth, or Monster? (Walker, 2012), illus. David Parkins – biography?
  • The Paradise Carpet

Awards and honours

  • On 15 July 2014, she was announced as a finalist for the Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature.
  • She became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2015.
  • Shortlisted for Richard Imison Memorial Award in 2001
  • 2000, Winner of Whitbread Children's Book Award (Costa Book Awards,)
  • 1997, Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, Shortlist
  • 1994, Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, Shortlist
  • 1992, Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, Shortlist

External links

Uses material from the Wikipedia article Jamila Gavin, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.