(Oneta) Malorie Blackman is a prolific writer of children’s and young adult fiction.
She was born in south London in 1962, barely two years after her parents’ move from Barbados to Britain. She studied computer science at Thames Polytechnic and worked in computing until 1990, when her first book was published and she established herself as a full-time writer.
Blackman since has published a wide variety of books for children, including young adult fiction (e.g. Hacker (1992), Thief (1995) and Pig-Heart Boy (1997)), picture books (e.g. I Want a Cuddle! (2001) and Jessica Strange (2002)) and easy readers. Although she has insisted on writing about black characters whose skin colour is not their main concern, her biggest commercial success to date, the Noughts and Crosses series, narrates the love story of a white boy and a black girl living in a dystopian world where white Noughts are oppressed by black Crosses. The series consists of the novels Noughts & Crosses (2001), Knife Edge (2004), Checkmate (2005), and Double Cross (2008). Her novel Cloud Busting (2004) is entirely written in verse and in Unheard Voices (2007) she collects first-hand accounts, short stories and poems on the subject of slavery to commemorate the bicentenary of the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
She has also authored scripts for television, film and theatre and several of her works have been screened on primetime children’s television.
She is the recipient of various awards, including a BAFTA for Best Children’s Drama in 2000. In 2008 she received an OBE for her services to children’s literature and she is the Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2013-15.
Adewunmu, Bim. “Hoorey for Malorie Blackman, an Inspiring New Children’s Laureate.” The Guardian, 4 June 2013.
Atkins, Laure. “Interviews with Malorie Blackman and Annie Eaton Regarding Noughts & Crosses.” Laure Atkins: Children’s Literature Specialist. May 2002. Accessed 19 Oct. 2013.
Blackman, Malorie, ed. Unheard Voices: An Anthology of Stories and Poems to Commemorate the Bicentenary Anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade. Corgi Childrens, 2007.
Blackman, Malorie. Noughts and Crosses. Cow & Wyman, 2001.
—. Knife Edge. Reading: Cow & Wyman, 2004. Print.
—. Checkmate. Reading: Cow & Wyman, 2005.
—. Double Cross. Reading: Cow & Wyman, 2008.
Craig, Amanda. “Black is the New White”. The Times, 31 Jan. 2004.
Flood, Alison. “Malorie Blackman Faces Racist Abuse After Call to Diversify Children’s Books.” The Guardian, 26 Aug. 2014.
Glosswitch. “Three Cheers for New Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman: An Author Who Likes and Trusts Children.” The New Statesman, 5 June 2013.
Pauli, Michelle. “Malorie Blackman Is the New Children’s Laureate.” The Guardian, 4 June 2013.
Rustin, Susanna. “Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman: ‘I’m Looking Forward to Redressing the Balance for Teenagers.’” The Guardian, 5 June 2013.
Image source: www.waterstones.com; photograph: Sidey Clark