Alan Garner Biography


English author Alan Garner is rooted in the language, places, and myths of his birthplace. Born in Congleton, Cheshire, on October 17, 1934, to a family of country people and craftsmen, he grew up in the village of Alderley Edge, where his ancestors had lived for generations. His village, now a suburb of Manchester, took its name from a great, wooded escarpment, a landmark on the Cheshire plain. Garner spent many childhood days exploring the land around Alderley Edge and getting to know the people of the countryside. Several severe illnesses, including a year long bout with meningitis, forced him to spend months in bed, where he read extensively and developed his imagination.

Garner attended Manchester Grammar School, then one of the most demanding schools in the country. There he found that home and school did not mix, that his dialect and even his way of thinking were not acceptable at school. Nevertheless, he rose to the challenge of the competitive environment and became a champion sprinter. After service in the Royal Artillery, he became the first in his family to attend a university. He studied classical languages at Magdalen College, Oxford. He left before taking his degree, but not before deciding to devote his life to writing. Returning to Cheshire, Garner moved into a medieval timbered house only a few miles from where he grew up. Here he has raised his own family.

The sense of dislocation and alienation that resulted from Garner's...

(The entire section is 529 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Born October 17, 1934, into the working class at Alderley Edge, Cheshire, in northwestern England, Alan Garner was chronically ill for most of his first ten years, suffering from spinal and cerebral meningitis, diphtheria, pleurisy, and pneumonia. But these early bedridden years were formative for the future author. Forced to entertain himself, he invented stories, inspired by the irregular walls of his room, which he viewed as a fantasy landscape.

When he was eleven, Garner's health greatly improved and he quickly demonstrated outstanding abilities at the local school in Alderley Edge and at grammar (high) school in Manchester as a student and an athlete. He was so fiercely competitive as a sprinter, he said that he would have quit the sport the moment someone beat him in a race, but no one did. Garner went on to Magdalen College, Oxford, where he studied classical Greek literature and archeology and developed an interest in acting. He left Oxford without a degree after deciding that the numbing routines of academic life were not for him. The turning point, he explained, came soon after he realized that his professor never smiled once in two months of lecturing on Aristophanes, one of the greatest comedians of all time.

After leaving Oxford, Garner served as an officer in the Royal Artillery and then turned to writing after reading William Golding's Lord of the Flies in 1954, a work that deeply affected him. Returning to Cheshire,...

(The entire section is 310 words.)