Lloyd Alexander

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Date: 2007
Document Type: Biography
Length: 4,829 words

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About this Person
Born: January 30, 1924 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: May 17, 2007 in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, United States
Nationality: American
Occupation: Children's writer
Other Names: Alexander, Lloyd Chudley
Updated:July 6, 2007

Born January 30, 1924, in Philadelphia, PA; died of cancer, May 17, 2007, in Drexel Hill, PA; son of Alan Audley (a stockbroker and importer) and Edna Alexander; married Janine Denni, January 8, 1946; children: Madeleine (Mrs. Zohair Khalil). Education: Attended West Chester State Teachers College, Lafayette College, and Sorbonne, University of Paris. Avocational Interests: Music (particularly violin, piano, and guitar), animals (especially cats), drawing and printmaking. Memberships: Amnesty International, Authors Guild, Authors League of America, PEN, Carpenter Lane Chamber Music Society (member of board of directors).


Writer and translator, beginning 1946. Author-in-residence, Temple University, 1970-74. Also worked as a cartoonist, layout artist, advertising copywriter, and editor of an industrial magazine. Military service: U.S. Army Intelligence, 1943-46; became staff sergeant.


Isaac Siegel Memorial Juvenile Award, 1959, for Border Hawk: August Bondi; Newbery Honor Book, American Library Association (ALA), 1965, for The Black Cauldron; citation from American Institute of Graphic Arts Children's Books, 1967-68, for The Truthful Harp; Newbery Medal, ALA, and National Book Award nomination, both 1969, both for The High King; National Book Award, 1971, for The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian; Drexel Award, 1972 and 1976, for outstanding contributions to literature for children; Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book in fiction, 1973, for The Cat Who Wished to Be a Man; Laura Ingalls Wilder Award nomination, 1975; National Book Award nomination, 1979, Silver Pencil Award, 1981, and Austrian Children's Book Award, 1984, all for The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha; American Book Award nomination, 1980, for The High King, and 1982, for The Wizard in the Tree; National Book Award, 1982, for Westmark; Parents' Choice Awards, 1982, for The Kestrel, 1984, for The Beggar Queen, 1986, for The Illyrian Adventure, and 1992, for The Fortune- tellers; Golden Cat Award, Sjöstrands Förlag (Sweden), 1984, for excellence in children's literature; Regina Medal, Catholic Library Association, 1986; Church and Synagogue Library Association Award, 1987; Lifetime Achievement Award, Pennsylvania Center for the Book in Philadelphia, 1991; Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and Otter Award, 1993, both for The Fortune-tellers; Lifetime Achievement Award, Parents' Choice, 2001. Also recipient of various best book and notable book citations from ALA, School Library Journal, Child Study Association of America, the Library of Congress, Smithsonian, and the New York Times; recipient of state reading awards from library organizations in Maryland and Pennsylvania.




  • And Let the Credit Go (novel), Crowell (New York, NY), 1955.
  • My Five Tigers, Crowell (New York, NY), 1956.
  • Janine Is French, Crowell (New York, NY), 1959.
  • My Love Affair with Music, Crowell (New York, NY), 1960.
  • (With Dr. Louis Camuti) Park Avenue Vet, Holt (New York, NY), 1962.
  • Fifty Years in the Doghouse, Putnam (New York, NY), 1963, published as Send for Ryan!, W. H. Allen (London, England), 1965.
  • My Cats and Me: The Story of an Understanding, Running Press (Philadelphia, PA), 1989.


  • Border Hawk: August Bondi (biography), illustrated by Bernard Krigstein, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1958.
  • The Flagship Hope: Aaron Lopez (biography), illustrated by Bernard Krigstein, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1960.
  • Time Cat: The Remarkable Journeys of Jason and Gareth, illustrated by Bill Sokol, Holt (New York, NY), 1963, published as Nine Lives, Cassell (London, England), 1963, reprinted, Puffin (New York, NY), 1996.
  • Coll and His White Pig, illustrated by Evaline Ness, Holt (New York, NY), 1965.
  • The Truthful Harp, illustrated by Evaline Ness, Holt (New York, NY), 1967.
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian: A Grand Extravaganza, including a Performance by the Entire Cast of the Gallimaufry-Theatricus, Dutton (New York, NY), 1970.
  • The King's Fountain, illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats, Dutton (New York, NY), 1971.
  • The Four Donkeys, illustrated by Lester Abrams, Holt (New York, NY), 1972.
  • The Cat Who Wished to Be a Man, Dutton (New York, NY), 1973.
  • The Wizard in the Tree, illustrated by Laszlo Kubinyi, Dutton (New York, NY), 1975.
  • The Town Cats and Other Tales, illustrated by Laszlo Kubinyi, Dutton (New York, NY), 1977.
  • The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha, Dutton (New York, NY), 1978.
  • The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen, Dutton (New York, NY), 1991.
  • The Fortune-tellers, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, Dutton (New York, NY), 1992.
  • The House Gobbaleen, illustrated by Diane Goode, Dutton (New York, NY), 1995.
  • The Arkadians, Dutton (New York, NY), 1995.
  • The Iron Ring, Dutton (New York, NY), 1997.
  • Gypsy Rizka, Dutton (New York, NY), 1999.
  • How the Cat Swallowed Thunder, Dutton (New York, NY), 2000.
  • The Gawgon and the Boy, Dutton (New York, NY), 2001.
  • The Rope Trick, Dutton (New York, NY), 2002.


  • The Book of Three, Holt (New York, NY), 1964.
  • The Black Cauldron, Holt (New York, NY), 1965.
  • The Castle of Llyr, Holt (New York, NY), 1966.
  • Taran Wanderer, Holt (New York, NY), 1967.
  • The High King, Holt (New York, NY), 1968.
  • The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain, illustrated by Margot Zemach, Holt (New York, NY), 1973, reprinted, Puffin (New York, NY), 1996.


  • Westmark, Dutton (New York, NY), 1981.
  • The Kestrel, Dutton (New York, NY), 1982.
  • The Beggar Queen, Dutton (New York, NY), 1984.


  • The Illyrian Adventure, Dutton (New York, NY), 1986.
  • The El Dorado Adventure, Dutton (New York, NY), 1987.
  • The Drackenberg Adventure, Dutton (New York, NY), 1988.
  • The Jedera Adventure, Dutton (New York, NY), 1989.
  • The Philadelphia Adventure, Dutton (New York, NY), 1990.


  • Jean-Paul Sartre, The Wall and Other Stories, New Directions (New York, NY), 1948, published as Intimacy and Other Stories, Peter Neville (London, England), 1949.
  • Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea, New Directions (New York, NY), 1949, published as The Diary of Antoine Roquentin, John Lehmann (London, England), 1949.
  • Paul Eluard, Selected Writings, New Directions (New York, NY), 1951, published as Uninterrupted Poetry: Selected Writings, 1975.
  • Paul Vialar, The Sea Rose, Neville Spearman, 1951.
  • Paul Eluard, Uninterrupted Poetry: Selected Writings, introductory notes by Aragon, Louis Parrot, and Claude Roy, New Directions (New York, NY), 1975.
  • (With Cicely Buckley) Paul Eluard, Ombres et Soleil--Sun and Shadows: Writings of Paul Eluard, 1913-1953, Oyster River Press, 1995.


  • Contributor to Cricket's Choice, Open Court, 1974; and The Big Book for Peace, illustrated by Jon Agee, Dutton (New York, NY), 1990. Author of introduction to A Newbery Halloween: A Dozen Scary Stories by Newbery Award-winning Authors, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1993; author of afterword to E. Nesbit's Five Children and It. Work included in New Directions anthologies. Contributor to Contemporary Poetry; contributor of articles to periodicals, including School Library Journal, Harper's Bazaar, and Horn Book. Member of editorial board, Cricket, 1973--.


Stage versions of The Cat Who Wished to Be a Man and The Wizard in the Tree were produced in Japan; a television serial version of The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian was produced in Japan; The Black Cauldron, an animated film based on the Prydain novels, was made by Walt Disney Productions in 1985. A number of Alexander's books have been adapted to audio, including The Iron Ring, Time Cat: The Remarkable Journeys of Jason and Gareth, The Cat Who Wished to Be a Man, The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen, and The Arkadians.



Lloyd Alexander is widely regarded as a master of twentieth-century children's literature. He is best-known for his fantasy fiction and modern fables: imaginative and adventurous stories, often rooted in historical fact and legend, which explore universal themes such as good versus evil and the quest of individuals for self-identity. Among Alexander's best-known works are the five novels that comprise his "Prydain Chronicles"--culminating with The High King, which in 1969 received the prestigious Newbery Medal for children's literature. Among Alexander's numerous other awards are the National Book Award in 1971 for The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian: A Grand Extravaganza, including a Performance by the Entire Cast of the Gallimaufry-Theatricus and the National Book Award in 1982 for his imaginative 1981 novel, Westmark. "At heart, the issues raised in a work of fantasy are those we face in real life," Alexander states in his Newbery Award acceptance speech printed in Horn Book."In whatever guise--our own daily nightmares of war, intolerance, inhumanity; or the struggles of an Assistant Pig-Keeper against the Lord of Death--the problems are agonizingly familiar. And an openness to compassion, love, and mercy is as essential to us here and now as it is to any inhabitant of an imaginary kingdom."

Alexander was born in 1924 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, a former stockbroker who was bankrupted by the stock market crash of 1929, struggled to support the Alexander family through a number of largely unsuccessful business ventures. Money was scarce, and little was available for piano lessons, an early love of Alexander's. Eventually, he became passionate about books, scouring the odd assortment that lay about his household. "I learned to read quite young and have been an avid reader ever since, even though my parents and relatives were not great readers," he was quoted as saying by Lee Bennett Hopkins in More Books by More People."I was more or less left to my own devices and interests, which, after all, may not be such a bad idea." Alexander became very fond of Greek and Celtic mythologies, in addition to the Welsh tales and legends contained in the Mabinogion. He also discovered the novels of Charles Dickens, and was particularly impressed with David Copperfield."Dickens was one of many authors who helped me grow up (and are still helping)," Alexander wrote in Top of the News."For a long while he was both refuge and encouragement. If he helped me escape from my daily life,. . . he also sent me back somehow better able to face up to it."

At the age of fifteen, Alexander announced to his parents that he wished to become a poet--a decision that greatly concerned his father. As Alexander recalled in More Books by More People,"poetry, my father warned, was no practical career; I would do well to forget it." His mother interceded, however, and it was agreed that Alexander could pursue poetry--granted he also find practical work. "For my part, I had no idea how to find any sort of work--or, in fact, how to go about being a poet. For more than a year I had been writing long into the night and studying verse forms to the scandalous neglect of my homework." Upon graduation, Alexander's poor grades and his family's limited finances ruled out the possibility of a college scholarship, and his prospects of becoming a successful writer looked dim. "In addition to poor marks, I collected rejection slips," Alexander recollects in My Love Affair with Music. "My goal was to become an author and it appeared that I would reach it only if I inserted the qualifying word 'unpublished.'" Alexander was able to find work as a messenger boy in a bank, a job that, although low-paying and one he found miserable, allowed him to continue writing.

Alexander eventually saved enough money to enroll in a local college to formally study writing, yet he found the course work inadequate. Instead, as he wrote in My Love Affair with Music, he decided that "adventure . . . was the best way to learn about writing," and he enlisted in the army. The year was 1943 and the United States was already fighting in World War II. Alexander was eventually assigned to military intelligence, and his unit was sent off to the country of Wales for combat training. "Wales was an enchanted world," Alexander continued. "The Welsh language fascinated me, as did English spoken with a Welsh lilt, more song than speech. . . . It seemed I recognized faces from all the hero tales of my childhood. . . . The Companions of Arthur might have galloped from the mountains with no surprise to me. Wales, to my eyes, appeared still a realm of bards and heroes; even the coal-tips towered like dark fortresses. Not until years afterwards did I realize I had been given, without my knowing, a glimpse of another enchanted kingdom."

Alexander was assigned to the Seventh Army in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France, and worked as an interpreter-translator. When the war ended in 1945, he was sent to work with a counter-intelligence unit in Paris, and, as he wrote in My Love Affair with Music,"fell in love with the city at first sight and sound." Alexander requested a discharge from the army to resume his education, and received a scholarship from the French Foreign Ministry, with which he attended the Sorbonne, University of Paris. The same year he met his future wife, a young Parisian named Janine Denni, and the two were married three months later in January of 1946. Feeling, however, that he needed to be closer to his roots if he were to succeed as a writer, Alexander returned to the United States with his wife and her small daughter, Madeleine, whom he had adopted. The three initially lived with Alexander's parents, until they moved into their own home, an old farmhouse in Drexel Hill, just outside of Philadelphia.

Alexander began writing novels, the first three of which were promptly rejected by publishers. Between 1948 and 1955, he worked at a variety of jobs to support his family, including being a cartoonist, advertising writer, layout artist, and an associate editor for an industrial magazine; he also translated several works from French, including Jean-Paul Sartre's The Wall and Nausea. Alexander was on the verge of giving up on writing when his fourth novel, And Let the Credit Go, was published. Based on his own experiences as a struggling writer, the book launched a number of biographically based adult books by Alexander. "One thing I had learned during those seven years was to write about things I knew and loved," he explained in Horn Book."Our cats delighted me. So did music; I had . . . tried to learn the violin, piano, and guitar. I relished Janine's war with the English language and her bafflement at the peculiar customs of Americans. All this found its way into books and was published. I was writing out of my own life and experience. But nearly ten years passed before I learned a writer could know and love a fantasy world as much as his real one."

Alexander made his first venture into children's fantasy with Time Cat: The Remarkable Journeys of Jason and Gareth. The story of a magical black cat who is able to transport a young boy into different historical periods, Time Cat brought Alexander into contact with ancient Wales once again. "Surely everyone cherishes a secret, private world from the days of childhood. Mine was Camelot, and Arthur's Round Table, Malory, and the Mabinogion," Alexander wrote in Horn Book. "The Welsh research brought it all back to me. Feeling like a man who has by accident stumbled into an enchanted cavern lost since boyhood, both terrified and awestruck, I realized I would have to explore further." Originally intending to include a Welsh episode in Time Cat, Alexander decided to replace it with an Irish one, and he began plans to devote a future book to his beloved Wales. "Not to the beautiful land of Wales I knew in reality," he said in Horn Book,"but an older, darker one."

Alexander did not expect that his exploration would result in the five-novel "Prydain Chronicles." In the first novel, The Book of Three, Alexander's intent was to retell the convoluted tales of the Mabinogion. "I tried this at first, but strange things happened to me," he stated in an interview for The Pied Pipers: Interviews with the Influential Creators of Children's Literature."I found I had been kidding myself: I didn't want simply to retell anybody's mythology. What I really wanted to do was invent my own, or at least use my own in some way. . . . The more I worked on The Book of Three the more I realized the personal importance it was taking on. . . . It was a tremendously liberating decision. I found myself, to my amazement, tapping into various areas of my personality that I never even knew existed."

The subsequent books of the series, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, and The High King, relate the adventures of a young hero, Taran, on several quests that lead him to understand the true meaning of heroism, goodness, and evil. "Prydain grew into something much more than a thinly disguised ancient Wales," Laura Ingram commented in the Dictionary of Literary Biography."Undeniably, it was similar to that land, but reshaped by the addition of contemporary realism, modern values, and a generous dose of humor, as well as the special depth and insight provided by characters who not only act, but think, feel, and struggle with the same kinds of problems that confuse and trouble people in the twentieth century." The Black Cauldron was a runner-up for the Newbery Medal in 1966 and was filmed as an animated feature by Walt Disney studios; The High King received the Newbery Medal in 1969. Alexander's "total creation is a remarkable achievement," wrote Washington Post Book World contributor Houston L. Maples, "a rich and varied tapestry of brooding evil, heroic action and great natural beauty, vividly conceived, romantic in mood yet curiously contemporary in its immediacy and fast action."

Alexander followed the "Prydain Chronicles" with several simpler tales geared more towards younger children. Some of these books, including Coll and His White Pig, The Truthful Harp, and The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain, are special introductions for young readers into the world of Prydain. In 1970, Alexander went in a different direction with another children's book, The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian, which was honored with the National Book Award. The story, set in a country reminiscent of eighteenth-century Europe, charts the adventures of a young fiddler as he assists an orphaned princess who is trying to escape marriage to the repressive ruler of the land. As Alexander described it in The Pied Pipers, the boy "comes into the possession of a fiddle that allows him to play and hear music as he has never done before. It changes his life." Alexander added that the story has parallels to his own discovery of the joys of writing for children. "The fiddle . . . is a mixed blessing because it also drains his life away the more he understands his magnificent discovery. Without being pretentious about it, I suppose Sebastian attempts to say something about what it feels like to be an artist."

In 1981 Alexander published a new novel, Westmark, the first of a trilogy that would include The Kestrel and The Beggar Queen. These novels became known as the "Westmark Trilogy," through which Alexander explores the political development of an imaginary land called Westmark, "a cross between colonial America and feudal Europe," as Ingram described it. "Quite different in tone and setting from the Prydain series," according to Jill P. May in St. James Guide to Children's Writers, Alexander's "Westmark" trilogy depicts "the horrors of revolution and unrest, and the conflicts caused by corrupt leadership."

In the first volume, Theo, a young printer's apprentice, escapes prosecution for the accidental killing of a royal officer by joining a theatrical troupe. There he falls in with a street girl, Mickle, and eventually joins a revolutionary group that is attempting to break the power of the evil minister Cabbarus. "A superb craftsman, Alexander has concocted a marvelous tale of high adventure," wrote Zena Sutherland in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, one which demonstrates the author's mastery of dialogue, plot, and character. In Theo's examination of the crime that led to his adventure, Alexander once again explores the meaning of good and evil. "The wisdom of the book lies in its difficult solution: good does not triumph over evil simply because it is good," observed Jean Fritz in the New York Times Book Review.

The next volumes of the Westmark trilogy turn from comic adventure to serious political struggle as Mickle, revealed as Westmark's missing princess, tries to retain her lawful position as queen with the aid of her loyal friends. Theo, who loves his "beggar queen," is enlisted in an unexpected war against a neighboring country and faces questions about loyalty, duty, and the nature of combat. "The fast-paced plot, subtleties of character, ironic wit, quiet understatement and pervasive animal imagery--all work with superb concentration to undercut the heroics of war,"School Library Journal contributor Hazel Rochman noted. "Alexander moves, as he did in the 'Prydain' cycle, to deeper issues and subtler levels," Sutherland similarly commented. While the "Westmark" books examine ethical issues, the critic continued, they are "no less appealing as an adventure tale with a strong story line and rounded, consistent characterizations."

A subsequent series of five books by Alexander recounts the adventures of a spirited young character named Vesper Holly. Set in the 1870s, the Vesper Holly books recount the exploits of a young Philadelphia girl as she travels to exotic locales with her guardians, becoming embroiled in intrigue and mystery. The first novel in the series, The Illyrian Adventure, is "in every way different from anything I'd written before," Alexander was once quoted as saying. "It was intended as an entertainment--for its author as much as anyone--with a gloriously fearless heroine, legendary heroes, inscrutable mysteries, and fiendish villains. What surprised me shouldn't have surprised me at all. In what was meant as sheer amusement, below the surface I realized that my own concerns and questions were still there, even though set in different terms." Horn Book writer Mary M. Burns, remarking on the author's theme, observed about The Illyrian Adventure that "what makes [Alexander's] work truly excellent, rather than simply very good, is his strong sense of story, controlled but not dominated by a substantial theme, and his ability to meld the actual and the imagined into a plausible reality."

Other volumes in the series have also won commendation from critics. The El Dorado Adventure, in which Vesper travels to Central America, is "entertaining" and yet "offers some low-key history lessons,"Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Brooke Dillon noted. Sutherland similarly remarked that the wild adventures and comic characters "will appeal to readers," while the writing quality "and pointed digs at the foibles of humankind will give them substance." Ethel L. Heins, writing in Horn Book, likewise found the books filled with "elegant, witty, beautifully paced writing," while Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books critic Betsy Hearne concluded that "the whole series is valuable in that it bestows elegant writing on unsuspecting young readers looking to gallop through books."

Exotic locales characterize Alexander's next two works, the novel The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen and the picture book The Fortune-tellers. The former, the story of a Chinese prince's voyage to study the way to govern a happy kingdom, "is a classic quest novel and classic Alexander," noted Kathleen Beck in Voice of Youth Advocates."The adventures are exciting, the message subtly conveyed, and the characters as quirky and engaging as ever." Horn Book reviewer Ann A. Flowers said that "Alexander's forte is the coming-of-age novel, and he skillfully uses symbolism and humor to reinforce his theme." The Fortune-tellers is set in the West African country of Cameroon and tells of a young carpenter's visit to find out his future, a visit that turns into an interesting adventure. "The trickster's hand is hidden here," remarked Hearne; "it is the author's, and a clever tale he has turned, proving as adept at a picture book text as he is at complex fantasy series."

The Iron Ring is also set in a faraway place; this time, the setting is India. Alexander draws on the ancient legends of that country to create his own epic tale. The young king Tamar, forced by dharma, the code of honor, into a bad bet with an unscrupulous king, loses his freedom to him. An iron ring appears on his finger, and the next day he sets out to go to the king's palace and restore his honor. Along the way, he acquires followers who include talking animals and a milkmaid named Mirri, who is "a typically self-possessed Alexander heroine," thought a Publishers Weekly reviewer. As in most epic tales, Tamar learns much on his long, wandering journey. In The Iron Ring,"Alexander offers a tale that is thoughtful without being leaden and moral without being moralistic," Ilene Cooper said in Booklist.

Gypsy Rizka is "vintage Alexander: lively, satirical, and with a core of pure gold," Joanna Rudge Long said in Horn Book. Rizka, child of a townswoman and a Gypsy, has been orphaned by her mother's death and her father's disappearance. She lives with her cat on the outskirts of the town of Greater Dunitsa, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. In one scene, she convinces the nasty but gullible Chief Councilor Sharpnack that he has "chickophobia" and that to be cured he must find his inner chicken; in another, she "lure[s] the seamstress's unwanted suitor to her window so that the good lady can douse him with cold water," as Long described it. "Rizka's unconventional style and her ability to make the authorities look silly will strike a chord with children who often have their own issues with authority figures," Carolyn Phelan said in Booklist. However, underneath the humor there is a deeper message "about the importance of family, home and friendship," as a Publishers Weekly contributor put it; when the Gypsies return to town and tell Rizka that her father is dead, she is torn between going with her father's people, as she had long dreamed of doing, or staying with the townspeople who had once despised her but with whom she has now become rather attached.

The Gawgon and the Boy is another lighthearted tale. Eleven-year-old David, who is recovering from pneumonia in late 1920s Philadelphia, is initially dismayed when he finds out that he is to be tutored by his no-nonsense elderly Aunt Annie (whom he quickly dubs the Gawgon, a misunderstanding of the word "gorgon.") However, much to his amazement Aunt Annie proves to have an imagination as prolific as his own, and together they "rescue Napoleon from Elba, solve a mystery that baffles Sherlock Holmes, and inspire Leonardo da Vince to complete the Mona Lisa," as a Horn Book contributor described their adventures. However, even these "romps through history . . . pale in comparison to the forthright descriptions of David's eccentric extended clan [and] his grandmother's boarding house," declared a Publishers Weekly contributor.

In her book The Green and Burning Tree: On the Writing and Enjoyment of Children's Books, Eleanor Cameron described Alexander as "a perfect example of one who, before he could come into his own as a writer, had to discover that place which was, for him, the spiritual symbol or expression of something hidden." Alexander's varied contributions to children's literature have earned him not only many awards and critical accolades, but also a devoted and diverse readership. "I am amazed and delighted by how many adults read the 'Prydain Chronicles,'" Alexander stated in The Pied Pipers."I don't think adults stop growing, or at least they shouldn't. If you stop growing you're dead. At any rate, I've never tried to pull any punches with the kids." For Alexander, the fantasy world of the imagination has been a way to explore that which is most real. "Using the device of an imaginary world allowed me in some strange way to go to the central issues," he added in The Pied Pipers."In other words I used the imaginary kingdom not as a sentimentalized fairyland, but as an opening wedge to express what I hoped would be some very hard truths. I never saw fairy tales as an escape or a cop out. . . . On the contrary, speaking for myself, it is the way to understand reality."

Alexander once told CA:"When I first began writing, I thought it was the hardest work in the world. I expected it to become easier. It didn't. I don't believe I've ever written an easy book. You'd suppose, after so many years of doing something, even a reasonably intelligent chimpanzee would gain facility at it. For me, that hasn't happened yet. With luck, it never will.

"Since I always try to do something different, to look deeper, to go further, each book is indeed the first I've ever written. I've never been there before. It's unexplored territory. When trying to create a world, it takes a while to become a naturalized citizen of it. Also, I end up surprising myself when I look back at what I meant to do and what I finally did. Maybe that's how it should be. If writers don't surprise themselves, they probably won't surprise their readers.

"Each book, then, is a personal voyage of discovery. I'm never certain what I'll find at the end. The one sure thing: Writing for young people has been the happiest discovery of all."




  • Alexander, Lloyd, My Love Affair with Music, Crowell, 1960.
  • Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction, Beacham (Osprey, FL), 1996.
  • Cameron, Eleanor, The Green and Burning Tree: On the Writing and Enjoyment of Children's Books, Little, Brown, 1969.
  • Children's Literature Review, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 1, 1976, Volume 5, 1983, Volume 48, 1998.
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 35, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1985.
  • Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 52: American Writers for Children since 1960: Fiction, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1986.
  • Hopkins, Lee Bennett, More Books by More People, Citation, 1974.
  • Jacobs, James S., and Michael O. Tunnell, Lloyd Alexander: A Bio-bibliography, Greenwood (Westport, CT), 1991.
  • Livingston, Myra Cohn, A Tribute to Lloyd Alexander, Drexel Institute, 1976.
  • May, Jill P., Lloyd Alexander, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1991.
  • St. James Guide to Children's Writers, fifth edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
  • St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
  • St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, second edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
  • Something about the Author Autobiography Series, Volume 19, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1985.
  • Tunnell, Michael O., The Prydain Companion, Greenwood Press, 1989.
  • Tymm, Marshall B., Kenneth J. Zahorski, and Robert H. Boyer, Fantasy Literature: A Core Collection and Reference Guide, Bowker, 1979.
  • Ward, Martha, and others, Authors of Books for Young People, third edition, Scarecrow Press (Metuchen, NJ), 1990.
  • Wheeler, Jill C., Lloyd Alexander, Abdo & Daughters (Edina, MN), 1997.
  • Wintle, Justin, and Emma Fisher, The Pied Pipers: Interviews with the Influential Creators of Children's Literature, Paddington Press, 1974.
  • Writers for Young Adults, Scribner's (Detroit, MI), 1997.


  • Black Issues Book Review, November, 1999, review of The Fortune Tellers, p. 74.
  • Book, July, 1999, review of Gypsy Rizka, p. 87.
  • Booklist, May 1, 1995, Ilene Cooper, review of The Arkadians; May 15, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of The Iron Ring, pp. 1572-1573; March 15, 1998, review of The Iron Ring, pp. 1211, 1224; March 15, 1999, Carolyn Phelan, review of Gypsy Rizka, p. 1327; May 15, 1999, Barbara Baskin, review of the audio version of The Arkadians, p. 1349; May 15, 1999, Patricia Austin, review of the audio version of The Iron Ring, p. 1713; May 15, 2000, Pat Austin, review of the audio version of Time Cat: The Remarkable Journeys of Jason and Gareth, p. 1765; July, 2000, Lauren Peterson, review of How the Cat Swallowed Thunder, p. 2037.
  • Book Report, November-December, 1997, Kate Clarke, review of The Iron Ring, p. 32.
  • Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 1981, Zena Sutherland, review of Westmark, pp. 185-186; June, 1982, Zena Sutherland, review of The Kestrel, pp. 181-182; April, 1987, Zena Sutherland, review of The El Dorado Adventure, p. 141; June, 1989, Betsy Hearne, review of The Jedera Adventure, p. 242; November, 1991, p. 55; September, 1992, Betsy Hearne, review of The Fortune-tellers, pp. 4-5; July, 1997, review of The Iron Ring, p. 386; April, 1999, review of Gypsy Rizka, p. 270.
  • Canadian Review of Materials, October 15, 1999, Joan C. Simpson, review of Gypsy Rizka.
  • Chicago Tribune Book World, November 26, 1967, p. 16.
  • Children's Book Review Service, July, 1997, review of The Iron Ring, p. 153; July, 1999, review of Gypsy Rizka, p. 152.
  • Children's Bookwatch, March, 1999, review of The Book of Three and The Black Cauldron, p. 7; July, 1999, review of The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, and The High King, p. 4; September, 1999, review of Gypsy Rizka, p. 3.
  • Christian Science Monitor, May 2, 1968, p. B8; November 7, 1973, p. B5.
  • Cricket, December, 1976.
  • Elementary English, December, 1971, pp. 937-945.
  • Emergency Librarian, March, 1998, review of the audio version ofThe Cat Who Wished to Be a Man, p. 25.
  • Entertainment Weekly, October 1, 1999, review of The Prydain Chronicles, p. 70.
  • Horn Book, April, 1965, Lloyd Alexander, "The Flat-Heeled Muse," pp. 141-146; June, 1967, p. 341; August, 1969, Lloyd Alexander, "Newbery Award Acceptance Speech"; October, 1971, pp. 508, 511-512; July-August, 1986, Mary M. Burns, review of The Illyrian Adventure, pp. 447-448; May-June, 1987, pp. 344-345; July-August, 1988, p. 499; September, 1989, Ethel L. Heins, review of The Jedera Adventure, pp. 624-625; March, 1992, Ann A. Flowers, review of The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen, pp. 200-201; July-August, 1997, Ann A. Flowers, review of The Iron Ring, p. 447; March, 1999, Joanna Rudge Long, review of Gypsy Rizka, p. 205; May, 1999, Kristi Beavin, review of the audio versions of The Iron Ring and The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen, p. 354; July, 2001, review of The Gawgon and the Boy, p. 446.
  • Horn Book Guide, fall, 1997, review of The Iron Ring, p. 250; fall, 1999, review of Gypsy Rizka, p. 287; spring, 2001, review of How the Cat Swallowed Thunder, p. 27.
  • Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 1997, review of The Iron Ring, p. 716; April 1, 1999, review of Gypsy Rizka, p. 530; March 15, 2001, review of The Gawgon and the Boy, p. 404.
  • Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide, November, 1997, review of The Arkadians, p. 12; May, 1999, review of the audio versions of The Iron Ring andThe Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen, pp. 58, 63; July, 1999, review of the audio version of The Arkadians, p. 42; November, 1999, review of The Iron Ring, p. 22.
  • Language Arts, April, 1984.
  • Lion and the Unicorn, Volume 9, 1985.
  • Los Angeles Times, July 24, 1985; July 27, 1985.
  • Los Angeles Times Book Review, September 12, 1999, review of The Book of Three, p. 5.
  • Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February, 1998, review of The Iron Ring, p. 51.
  • New York Times Book Review, December 3, 1964; June 19, 1966, p. 36; April 9, 1967, p. 26; March 28, 1968, p. 38; November 15, 1970, p. 42; November 13, 1977, p. 37; May 10, 1981, Jean Fritz, review of Westmark, p. 38; April 25, 1982, p. 47; June 7, 1987.
  • Parents' Choice, special awards issue, 1997, review of The Iron Ring, p. 6.
  • Publishers Weekly, April 14, 1997, review of The Iron Ring, pp. 76-77; September 22, 1997, review ofThe Fortune-Tellers, p. 83; January 5, 1998, review of The Wizard in the Tree, p. 69; August 31, 1998, review of The Town Cats and Other Tales, p. 78; February 8, 1999, review of The House Gobbaleen, p. 216; March 15, 1999, review of Gypsy Rizka, p. 60; July 12, 1999, review of The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, The High King, and The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain, p. 96; July 19, 1999, review of The Iron Ring, p. 197; July 3, 2000, review of How the Cat Swallowed Thunder, p. 70; November 13, 2000, review of Gypsy Rizka, p. 106; May 14, 2001, review of The Gawgon and the Boy, p. 83.
  • School Library Journal, May, 1967, p. 61; February, 1968, pp. 86, 196; April, 1982, Hazel Rochman, review of The Kestrel, April, 1982, pp. 64-65; May, 1997, Ruth S. Vose, review of The Iron Ring, p. 128; July, 1997, review of The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen, p. 34; November, 1997, review of The House Gobbaleen and The Fortune-tellers, p. 40; March, 1998, Carol Katz, review of the audio version of The Cat Who Wished to Be a Man, p. 157; November, 1998, review of The House Gobbaleen, p. 42; February, 1999, Rob McCabe, review of the audio version of The Iron Ring, p. 69; March, 1999, review of Gypsy Rizka, p. 206; April, 1999, review of the audio version of The Arkadians, p. 73; May, 1999, Louise L. Sherman, review of The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen, p. 70; October, 2000, Catherine T. Quattlebaum, review of How the Cat Swallowed Thunder, p. 110; April, 2001, Beth Wright, review of The Gawgon and the Boy, p. 138.
  • Stone Soup, November-December, 1998, Natalie Neumann, review of The Iron Ring, pp. 42-43.
  • Times Literary Supplement, November 24, 1966, p. 1089; May 25, 1967, p. 451; October 3, 1968, p. 1113; April 6, 1973, p. 379.
  • Top of the News, November, 1968, Lloyd Alexander, "A Personal Note by Lloyd Alexander on Charles Dickens."
  • Tribune Books (Chicago), May 4, 1997, review ofThe Iron Ring, p. 7.
  • Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1988, Brooke Dillon, review of The El Dorado Adventure, p. 285; February, 1992, Kathleen Beck, review of The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen, p. 378; October, 1997, review of The Iron Ring, p. 250; February, 1998, review of The Iron Ring, p. 363; April, 1998, review of The Iron Ring, pp. 11, 36.
  • Washington Post Book World, August 21, 1966; May 5, 1968, Houston L. Maples, review of The High King, p. 22; November 8, 1970, p. 10; November 12, 1978, p. E4; May 10, 1981; January 9, 1983.
  • Writer's Digest, April, 1973.


  • A Visit with Lloyd Alexander (videocassette), Dutton (New York, NY), 1994.
  • Children's Book Council, http://www.cbcbooks.org/ (May 31, 2002), Lloyd Alexander, "On Fantasy."
  • Meet the Newbery Author: Lloyd Alexander (filmstrip/cassette), Miller-Brody (New York, NY), 1975.
  • Penguin Putnam, http: / /www.penguinputnam.com/ (April 20, 2002), interview with Lloyd Alexander.
  • The Scoop, http:// www.friend.ly.net/scoop (May 31, 2002), biography of Lloyd Alexander.
  • The World of Lloyd Alexander, http://www.geocities.com/EnchantedForest/4802 (May 31, 2002).*


Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|H1000001205