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Alan Gibbons
Gibbons at The World Transformed 2018 in Liverpool
Gibbons at The World Transformed 2018 in Liverpool
Born Warrington, Cheshire, England
Occupation Novelist, educational consultant
Language English
Nationality English
Genre Children's literature
Notable works Shadow of the Minotaur, The Edge
Notable awards Carnegie Medal Honor
2000 Shadow of the Minotaur
2002 The Edge
Years active 1988–present
Children 4

Alan Albert Gibbons (born 14 August 1953) is an English writer of children's books who has won a Blue Peter Book Award. He lives in Liverpool, England, where he used to teach in a primary school. Long involved in left-wing socialist politics, he was on the central committee of the Socialist Workers Party for many years, before joining the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

Early life

Gibbons' father was a farm labourer, but was hurt in an accident when Alan was eight years old. The family had to move to Crewe, Cheshire. He became a socialist at the age of 14.

Political career

Gibbons is a Socialist and joined the International Socialists, forerunner to the left-wing Socialist Workers Party in 1974. He became a full time organiser and was on the party's central committee for many years. He wrote that he was "tirelessly committed" to these organisations and that he "gave a quarter of a century to the SWP." He speaks at the annual Marxist conference Marxism and continues to campaign for left wing causes as well as more mainstream ones.

Gibbons organised the Authors Against the SATs Campaign in 2010.

Inspired by Jeremy Corbyn's 2015 leadership campaign, Gibbons joined the Labour Party in 2016 and became secretary of Liverpool Walton Constituency Labour Party (CLP), Labour's safest seat in the country. In 2021 he stood successfully as Liverpool Councillor for the Warbreck ward in the north of the city. He is a member of Momentum's leading body, the National Coordinating Group. Gibbons was briefly suspended from the Labour Party in 2020 for allowing a motion in support of Corbyn to be passed at a CLP meeting.

In March 2022, Gibbons was among a group of seven Labour councillors who broke the whip and voted against the party's budget for the Liverpool council. Gibbons said "Liverpool’s communities are at breaking point. As a matter of conscience, I am not prepared to vote for cuts that will make life harder for the people I represent".

In April 2022, the Labour Party said it had expelled Gibbons from the party because he had previously supported the left wing Socialist Appeal group, which was later proscribed by the Labour Party.

Career as a writer

Gibbons trained to be a teacher in his mid-thirties and starting writing short stories for his students. Later, he began to write professionally. In 2000, he won the Blue Peter Book Award in the category "The Book I Couldn't Put Down" category for Shadow of the Minotaur. He was a judge for the 2001 Blue Peter Book Awards. He was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal twice in 2001 and 2003 and shortlisted twice for the Booktrust Teenage Prize. He has also won the Leicester Book of the Year, the Stockport Book Award, the Angus Book Award, the Catalyst Award, the Birmingham Chills Award, the Salford Young Adult Book Award, the Hackney Short Novel Prize, the Our Best Book Award and the Salford Librarians' Special Award. In 2016 Gibbons was given the Fred and Anne Jarvis Award by the NUT. He is a contributor to the Arts Council/UK Literacy Association Writers in Schools initiative.

In Socialist Review, Michael Rosen said that Gibbons’ novels focus mainly on the lives of "working class children and teenagers". His stories are fast-moving and often include moments in which the protagonists make "personal socio-political choices."

He has been a regular speaker at the Edinburgh Book Festival, the London Book Fair, the Northern Children's Book Festival, the Hay on Wye Literary Festival, the Cheltenham Literature Festival and others. His work is published in nineteen languages and he visits many schools internationally, including schools in Kenya and Kuwait. He has appeared on BBC TV, Channel 4, Radio 4, and Radio 5 live and has written in the Times Educational Supplement, Junior Education, Carousel, Books For Keeps and other publications.

Gibbons is also an educational consultant and speaks at schools across the UK and abroad.

At the Abingdon Joint School's Event in February 2013, he discussed upcoming books including 'Raining Fire' (to be published on 7 March) and a future project called 'Hate Crime', now renamed Hate. a novelisation of the real-life murder of Sophie Lancaster. The novel was published in March 2014 and covered by BBC and ITV, Radio City, The Sunday Express, the Telegraph, the Lancashire Evening Telegraph and the Manchester Evening News.

Library closures

Gibbons founded Campaign for the Book to protest against library closures and support children's reading. He initiated countrywide Read Ins on 5 February 2011 to protest against library closures. Some 110 events took place across the country, involving up to 10,000 people. He also joined with the National Union of Teachers, Just Read and the National Literacy Association to organise a Reading for Pleasure conference in February 2011.

In March 2011 he launched a new initiative, calling for a National Libraries Day to celebrate reading for pleasure, public libraries, school libraries and School Library Services. This rapidly won the backing of many organisations for an annual event on the first Saturday in February. In May 2011 Gibbons initiated a campaign to establish a National Libraries Day, which has now evolved into a National Libraries Week. Gibbons and the Campaign for the Book are part of the Speak up for Libraries Coalition. On 5 November, the Campaign for the Book joined the disabled organisation DPAC and three trade unions, Unison, Unite and PCS in organising a National Demonstration for Libraries, Museums and Galleries. It was attended by 2,500 people.

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