Kevin Crossley-Holland

Children's author, poet and translator...


The Riddlemaster was published on 16th June 2016

Riddlemaster Cover

Anouk, Ben and Cara dream of a fabulous treasure buried in the golden island across the harbour. A mysterious, grizzled old man offers them passage on his boat, but only if they can solve seven, vexing riddles. If they succeed, a strange - and magical - prize awaits them.

With enchanting illustrations by Stephane Jorish, Kevin returns with an atmospheric and eerie picture book for KS2 readers that showcases his trademark mastery of myths and riddles.

The Riddlemaster was published by Tradewind on June 16th, 2016.

Heartsong was published on 30th September 2015

Heartsong Cover

Music has played a crucial part of each of our lives, and it's at the healing heart of our mute heroine Laura's life. Heartsong our book is called, and our own heart-song is what it is.

Kevin Crossley-Holland and Jane Ray

An orphan with no voice but an extraordinary gift.

A man of music who discovers her gift.

Abandoned at the orphanage in Venice as a baby, Laura is mute. Her life is transformed when the composer Vivaldi unlocks her passion for music.

The seasons turn, dark turns to light and miracles happen.

Heartsong is the spellbinding tale about the healing power of music.

Heartsong will be published by Hachette on September 30th,2015.

The Breaking Hour out now

The Breaking Hour Cover

For more details, click here.

New choral commission

The composer Cecilia McDowall and Kevin have been commissioned tby the Harlow Chorus to write a major new piece incorporating the famous passage from the book of Ecclesiastes,

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven...

The premiere will be in Chelmsford Cathedral on Saturday 16th April 2016.

Cecilia McDowall has also set Kevin's poem Angels at St Mary's for performance at this summer's Presteigne Festival.

Bernard Hughes' The Death of Balder (words by Kevin), sung by the BBC Singers, will be released on CD in Spring 2016.

Older News

2015 - Already looking busy...

Riddlemaster will be launched in the spring of 2015 and published by Tradewind Books , Vancouver. With illustrations by St├ęphane Jorisch, winner of Canada's Governor General Award, it tells the story of three children who want to cross over to a treasure island, but they cannot do so unless they answer seven riddles. One wrong answer...

In September, Orchard will publish Heartsong, a short novel set in Venice and turning on the composer Antonio Vivaldi and Laura, a mute Orphanage girl, who plays the flute in his celebrated orchestra. Illustrated in full colour by Jane Ray there is already keen interest in foreign rights.

I'll never forget one word of what Father Antonio said next.

'Some things in our lives, we think about, we hope for, we dream of, we half-believe. But some we just know. And what I know, Laura, is that if you practise and learn to play this instrument, the day will come when angels stop and listen to you.'

Enitharmon Press will publish The Breaking Hour in the autumn too. This new collection of poems, Kevin's first for five years, is a book of meetings. A mother meets her baby. A man steps into his childhood. An old man encounters Godfather Death. And in the persona of Harald Hardrada, a passionate man wrestles with his fantasies, and north meets south.

These poems inhabit the crossing-places between actuality, memory and imagination; they engage with the beauty of language and its limitations, and with grievous loss propitiated by affirmation and love.

Kevin has also written the introduction to Crimsoning the Eagle's Claw by Ian Crockatt - a collection of poems translated from the work of Rognvaldr Kali Kolsson, a 12th century Earl of Orkney. Arc Books, spring 2015.

Currently working on...

...a commission by Walker Books to write a completely new version of The Norse Myths for children. The sales of Kevin's original version of The Norse Myths, first published in 1980, are still rising steadily worldwide.

All the World Was in the Sea, a short novel for children, set during the East Coast floods of 1953, should also be completed in 2015.

And Kevin continues in his role as President of the School Library Association until 2016.

26 Characters at The Story Museum, Oxford

Many of Britain's best loved writers and storytellers have transformed themselves into the characters they most loved as children in an exciting new, interactive photographic exhibition at The Story Museum.

Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman metamorphoses into the Wicked Witch of the West. Terry Pratchett achieves outlaw status as Just William. And Neil Gaiman gets stripey as a well-known woodland creature.

Kevin has become none other than Merlin the Magician!

Other authors taking part include Julia Donaldson, Anthony Horowitz, Jamila Gavin, Charlie Higson, Shirley Hughes, Terry Jones, Geraldine McCaughrean, Michael Morpurgo, Terry Pratchett, Francesca Simon and Benjamin Zephaniah.

Award-winning celebrity photographer Cambridge Jones has captured a gallery of rogues and rascals, wizards, witches and wild things, which unfolds through the Story Museum's atmospheric and unfinished buildings. Well worth a visit.

Oxford Literary Festival 2014

Kevin will be taking part in three events at the Festival this year.

Jan Morris talks to Kevin Crossley-Holland

Tuesday 25th March, Sheldonian Theatre, 6pm

One of Britain's greatest and best-loved travel writers Jan Morris talks to poet and novelist Kevin Crossley-Holland about her life and work and receives the 2014 Honorary Fellowship of the FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival. Morris is a historian, travel writer and novelist best known for her Pax Britannica trilogy on the history of the British Empire and for her travel writing on cities, most notably Oxford, Venice, Trieste, Hong Kong and New York. She famously accompanied the first successful Everest expedition in 1953 and was first to report the triumph, before going on to write a series of acclaimed travel books.

Story Telling with Joanne Harris, Ben Okri and Paul Blezard

Friday 28th March, Corpus Christi College, 8pm

Enjoy outstanding storytellers with a keen interest in the stories told by their distant forbears telling a few ancient tales and discussing them under the watchful eye of journalist and writer Paul Blezard. Poet and novelist Kevin Crossley-Holland and fellow novelist Joanne Harris will tell stories with Icelandic, Scandinavian, French and Celtic origins. There will be musical accompaniment from The Bookshop Band, including folk songs and a song specially written for Joanne Harris.

The History of the Wizard

Sunday 30th March, Christ Church Hall, 2pm

Kevin (dressed as Merlin!) talks to the festival's consultant director of the young people's programme, Nicolette Jones, about the history of the wizard.

Tickets for all events from the box office here.

The Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree 2013

Decorating the Tree

Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree

Once again Kevin has been part of the Poetry Society and the Royal Norwegian Embassy's Look North More Often project. This year, with the help from pupils from schools around London, he has written 'Decorating the Tree' - the poem wrapped around the Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square. A full report can be read here.

Decorating the Tree

I am your tree. I grew in the north,

Year by year in the seasoned earth.

Sift, white shift, snowflakes, stars:

I was storm-shelter for carolling birds.

Dear creatures, what gifts have you brought?

The fresh mint of light. The dancing moon.

The hooves of reindeer, prancing on air.

The boom of a waterfall.

Wreaths of mist, twisting, rising.

We bring you time, come and gone.

I am ancient and always young

And I speak with countless tongues.

Your Tree of Life, your Guardian Tree,

I'll watch over you by night and day.

Dear creatures, what gifts have you brought?

Oh, so many! A friend for always.

Laughter. Upside down frowns.

Skateboarding from roof to roof.

The best parts of our own best memories.

We bring you hopes. We bring our dreams.

But darker than bats' wings ? we're afraid

Of the dark. This dread, this ache

Before we wake. So far from home.

That man with a gun. Being alone.

We bring our fears. We bring sorrows.

I'm your World Tree, scarred long ago,

Oozing, sharp as hoar-frost on a bough.

I creak and groan but I rise above gloom

And wherever you are, I'll be your home.

Dear creatures...

The Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture 2013

Footprints on the Grass

The text of Footprints on the Grass - Speaking of Gardens and Children's Books' can be read here.

The Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture 2013

5.00pm on the 5th of September at Homerton College, Cambridge.

Kevin will be giving the Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture this year. It is entitled, Footprints on the Grass: Speaking of Gardens and Children?s Books and will take place at 5.00pm on the 5th of September at Homerton College, Cambridge. Booking is essential. Please visit the website for further details.

Stars of Mine published on Friday 15th February!

Stars of Mine

A girl with a magic talent

A king who wants a wife

A lie at the heart of a story...

The king says he will kill his new wife if she cannot complete a challenge he has set.

A magic imp promises to help, but he has a price the girl must pay.

Can the girl solve the riddle, beat the imp and live happily ever after with the king?

Seamus Heaney and Kevin Crossley-Holland at the Oxford Literary Festival

The Chancellor?s Lecture: Seamus Heaney ? The Life of a Poet

5.30 pm Friday March 22nd at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford.

At the invitation of the Chancellor of The University of Oxford, Lord Patten of Barnes, Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney talks to children?s author and poet Kevin Crossley-Holland about his life and career. Heaney is regarded by many as the greatest poet of his age and was described by Robert Lowell as ?the most important Irish poet since Yeats?. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995 and has received many other awards, including the 2006 T S Eliot Prize for District and Circle. The Nobel committee said the prize was for ?works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past?. His twelfth and most recent collection of poems is Human Chain, published in 2010.

Seamus Heaney

Discussions will turn to Beowulf, one of the finest works of Anglo-Saxon literature, which has been translated from Old English by both Heaney and Crossley-Holland. Heaney?s translation, a Whitbread book of the year, is widely regarded as the finest ever made of the poem, while Crossley-Holland published his own verse translation of the poem at the age of 27. The two will discuss the nature and heart of the poem, the pitfalls of translating from Old English, and the impact Beowulf has had on Heaney?s own poetry in particular.

Tickets available here.

The Mountains of Norfolk wins the Poetry Award at the EDP and Jarrold's East Anglian Book Awards

The award, judged by the poet George Szirtes, was presented on 15 November by Sophie Hannah at a dinner in the Assembly House, Norwich, attended by writers, broadcasters, booksellers and journalists from East Anglia.

Sophie Hannah and Kevin Crossley-Holland
Sophie Hannah with Kevin Crossley-Holland.Photo: Steve Adams

Publication of Scramasax

Scramasax, the second book in the Viking Sagas series, was published on the 30th August.


Solveig has made it all the way from Norway to the glittering city of Constantinople, where her father is a member of the guard of Empress Zoe. Soon she finds herself caught up in the conflict between the Viking guard and the Islamic people of nearby Sicily. In this world of competing religious beliefs, brutal violence and ruthless mercenaries, Solveig must face some terrible truths about her father and her fellow Vikings, and decide what she considers worth fighting for.

New Publications this Spring...

Bracelet of Bones

Short 2!

The Penguin Book of Norse Myths

A very busy spring...

Kevin has three books out during the next few months.

On Thursday March 3rd the Oxford University Press will publish Short Too! the follow-up to the hugely popular Short!. March 31st will see Quercus Books publish Bracelet of Bones and finally April 7th will see Penguin Books publish a new issue of The Penguin Book of Norse Myths.

Bracelet of Bones will be published on March 31st 2011

Bracelet of Bones

'Will you swear to take me?'
Halfdan stared gravely at his daughter. 'In my heart, I will.'

One morning Solveig wakes to find her father, Halfdan, gone.

Halfdan is a Viking mercenary who longs to rejoin his friend, Harald Hardrada, in Constantinople where he is serving in the Empress's guard. But when he goes, he breaks his promise to take his daughter. Solveig decides to follow him. She sets off in a tiny boat and into an adventure through the Viking world. She joins forces with Swedish traders, is befriended by an English slave, meets a Russian laughter-maker and suffers an arrow-storm from Slavic tribes. She narrowly misses being sold as a slave herself, is pursued by a young man who won't take no for an answer, is savaged by wild dogs, and witnesses a living sacrifice. Through it all, her belief in her father is unwavering. Will she ever reach him? And if she does, what will she find?

Published by Quercus Books on March 31st 2011, this is a glittering novel that revolves around friendship and betrayal, fathers and daughters, the clash of religions and a perilous journey to young womanhood.


Kevin's Blog is now up on the Quercus website - do please have a look!