This has been culled from Dennis’s website at
If you’ve ever read The War and Freddy, you’ll know that Freddy was three when the Second World War started and nine when it finished. He’s exactly the same age as me. There’s a coincidence!
I was born in Kent but spent most of my childhood in Winslow, Buckinghamshire, and went to the local grammar school [The Royal Latin School] . After that, and after two not very glorious years in the RAF, I went up to Cambridge, where I read English. Many years later I took some time off writing to complete a PhD
All my working life – in a job, that is, not just writing – was spent in education. I was a teacher at Stockport Grammar School and Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, Wakefield, where I made all my mistakes. Then I trained teachers at Milton Keynes College of Education and also worked for the Open University. I finally ended up as County English Adviser for Hertfordshire. My first-ever book was published in 1962, modern versions of three old Miracle Plays for schools, but I didn’t start writing properly until 1971, when I started my first children’s novel, Pageants of Despair. This was published in 1974. After that I was writing in the moments I had free from teaching and advising until 1992. Fed up to the teeth with dashing round the county peddling the then new National Curriculum and seeing a job I loved take new directions that I didn’t like, I retired early to become a full-time writer, which I’ve been ever since. I’ve lost count of how many books I’ve written, but there are over fifty now, all sorts – novels, short story collections, books for schools, non-fiction for all ages.
In 1985 I started the “Lending Our Minds Out” writing courses for children at Pearse House, Bishops Stortford. These courses still run: many hundreds of kids have been to them over the years. To find out more about them click here and then follow the Creative Writing link.
I now live in Oxford, after my wife died in January 2006. I have two children – well, when I say “children”, they’re two grown up married people. My son, Peter, is a scientist and my daughter, Mary, is in publishing. And there are four grandchildren, Joe, Ella, Elliot and Rose. Plus Emily, a Siamese cat who is nineteen and still going strong.