Robert Westall (1929-1993)

North Shields born author of “The Machine Gunners”


Robert WestallRobert Westall (1929-1993) was the author of 50 acclaimed works for children, including such  twentieth century classics as;  “The Machine-Gunners”, “The Kingdom by the Sea”  and “Blitzcat”. He was twice awarded the Carnegie Medal and also received the Guardian Award and the Smarties Prize.

Robert Westall grew up in North Shields, the setting of many of his books and when war broke out he was 10 – a good age to enjoy it. War was exciting – Tyneside was heavily bombed and young Bob had to live through the terror of the air raids. His father was a key figure in local ARP and was on duty the night of the Wilkinson’s disaster. Vivid memories of air raids in the town appear in both  “Children of the Blitz” and “The Making of Me”.

Readers of Westall’s books will find much of interest in this website. For those new to Westall, we recommend the award-winning “The Machine Gunners”. Once commonly read in schools it is less so now, possibly due to the realism and the frankness of the writing. It is good to see the book re-appearing on lists of recommended books for teen readers.

The 1983 BBC TV series of the book is fondly remembered. In case you were wondering, the tv series has never had a release on DVD. It’s worth nagging the BBC!