Saturday, October 23, 2010

Farewell Eva Ibbotson

Eva Ibbotson— one of my favorite writers in all the world — died on Wednesday and I'm feeling very sad. 

Many people know and love her children's books — Which Witch, The Secret of Platform 13, The Journey to the River Sea and many more, but I first came to Eva Ibbotson through her adult romances. They were well out of print when I discovered them, but I hunted them down on the internet until I had a full collection. I didn't care that I'd paid quite a bit of money for battered old library editions; the contents were gold.

However last year they were reissued— as YA books for some odd reason — and it was great because the books found a whole new audience, and also because I was able to press her books on friends without risking their non-return.  I did a Word Wench interview with Eva last year, when she was 84.

She left behind her a brilliant legacy — these are books that will live on, as Georgette Heyer's books have lived on, but one of  her stories that might not live on is a small piece she wrote in support of public libraries, and it's one of my favorites. 
It starts:

I was eight years old when I came to Britain as a refugee - and was not particularly grateful. Mostly this was because after years and years of being a sheep coming to the manger, or a grazing cow, I had at last landed the part of the Virgin Mary in the nativity play at my convent school in Vienna.
And then ... Hitler.      read the rest here.

You can listen to a podcast interview with Eva here.

Eva said once in an interview  that she thought of her books as a present for readers.
They are indeed a gift she has left to the world.
Vale Eva Ibbotson.