Profile of John Eames
I have taught English Language and Literature in schools, sixth-form colleges and at Huddersfield University, along the way reaching the dizzying heights of Vice Principal of Oldham Sixth Form College.
Most significant in terms of The Magic Makers was my time as Head of Department at Pendleton College in Salford, the largest centre nationally for the new English Language A Level for several years. One element of the writing assessment was Writing for Children – a creative process enhanced by the study of child language development.
Guided by the principle that if you can’t do it you shouldn’t teach it, I increasingly focused my own joy in writing upon children’s stories and poetry – eventually publishing Beastly Bites. The accompanying Teachers’ Notes, closely linked to the National Literacy Strategy of the time, made this a popular text in local schools.
Poetically ambitious, The Magic Makers waited for a number of years for an illustrator who would be as attentive to its natural imagery as Kim Gay had been to the humour of Beastly Bites. An extensive exploration of illustrators on the internet eventually brought me into contact with Nicola Dennis, whose subtle use of colour and brilliant evocation of the wonders of nature made her the ideal artist.
I continue to write stories and poems for children. My book, The Boy with Four Hats, is an imagined narrative of what inspired Dickens to write Oliver Twist. The latest publication, Leafcutter, has been written as a commission for Clive Farrell, whom The Independent dubbed ‘Lord of the Butterflies’. He co-owns two butterfly farms and has worked tirelessly to preserve butterfly species. His Butterfly Farm in Stratford-upon-Avon houses a large colony of leafcutter ants.
An important source of inspiration is the family next door, whose two daughters receive their own story or poem every birthday and Christmas. I hope to publish some of these in two separate anthologies in a year’s time.