Thursday, July 16, 2009

Naomi Lewis
Poet, critic and indefatigable writer and reviewer of children's literature
Susan Curtis , The Guardian, Tuesday 14 July 2009

Naomi Lewis, who has died aged 97, was many things: a poet, a critic, a reviewer and writer of children's books, a renowned authority on Hans Christian Andersen and a fervent proponent of animal rights. Her output over a 60-year career was prodigious, but despite her early work as a critic and the well-received collection of articles and essays in her first book, A Visit to Mrs Wilcox (1957), it is for her work on children's literature that she is most noted.
Lewis was a great admirer of Andersen and used her own affinity with the world of magic and fairy tale to translate his genius. It was not just her retelling of the stories that infused them with new energy, but the wonderful introductions that accompanied them; urging and explaining to young minds the individuality of each tale and the personality that had formed them.
This interpreter and reteller of fairy tales was as petite and mysterious as one of the little folk herself. Her love of animals was often in evidence at her home in Red Lion Square, Bloomsbury, central London, where she rescued stray cats and injured pigeons, often taking the latter to the rest rooms of Conway Hall at No 25 to give them flying practice safe from her feline wards.
For the full obituary link to The Guardian online.
The Bookman has been a great admirer of Naomi Lewis and her writing since first joining the book trade in 1968. My former colleague and great friend, the late Kaye Webb, (another tqwoering figure in the children's book world), often spoke of Naomi to me and once tried to set up a meeting of the three of us which alas did not eventuate.


bblandford said...

Naomi also had the extraordinary ability to make those who spoke to her feel as though they were celebrities themselves. She was a member of the South Place Ethical Society, who will be holding a memorial for her on 25th July at 2.30 in the Conway Hall, Red Lion Square. Losing her has left a huge gap in our lives that we are all coming to terms with.

Gillian said...

Naomi was an amazing friend andan ability to retell a fairy story which is matched by none.