Jill Atkins of Storrington, who can’t believe she is over sixty, has recently been awarded the MA Writing for Children by Winchester University.
She already had 46 children’s books published when she embarked on the two-year part time course.
Jill was presented with her certificate, wearing gown and mortar board, in a ceremony in Winchester Cathedral recently. “I felt really proud,” said Jill. “It only goes to show you’re never too old to go back to studying!” She decided to do the course to improve her style and further succeed in her writing career.
The final piece Jill wrote for the course was a novel for eight-11 year olds set in Victorian times, when a mudlark sees a tiny object thrown into the Thames.
Little does he know that finding that object will lead him into a dangerous and exciting adventure. She is currently looking for a publisher for the novel.
Jill has made up stories since her own childhood, when she used to amuse her two little brothers at their bathtime.
She is an escaped teacher, mainly Key Stage 1, where she was Head of Department.
She began seriously writing children’s stories about twenty years ago when she was teaching Key Stage 1 children, partly because she felt there was a need for more stimulating reading books for young children at that time.
Jill’s first book to be published was called ‘Cooking with Rabbit’ in 1994 and since then she has had 46 children’s books published by publishers such as Scholastic, Hodder, Franklin Watts and Oxford University Press.
One of her most popular books is ‘Sophie’s Secret War: A Second World War Girl’s Diary, 1939-1940’
She has written mostly for young children, but also for 8-11 year olds, and four novels for teenagers.
Sister of Sir Andrew Davis, the conductor, Jill is married with two grown up children and five grandchildren.
“Our son lives in Hereford with a girl and boy, and our daughter lives in Calgary, Canada, with three boys,” says Jill.
“It’s one of life’s major priorities to get to see them all as often as possible.”
She and her husband, Dave, have lived in Storrington for almost seven years after spending most of their lives in Ware, Hertfordshire.
“We absolutely love it here. We’ve joined lots of societies and made lots of lovely new friends,” said Jill.
“We can’t understand why we didn’t move here years ago,” she added.