Joan Lingard was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1932 but spent her childhood and adolescence in Belfast before returning to her home city. She worked as a librarian and then as a teacher after finishing her studies at Moray House College of Education. Although she had been writing since she was eleven and always dreamed of becoming a writer, she did not publish her first novel, »Liam’s Daughter« (1963), until she was thirty. Five more novels followed in swift succession until her first young people’s book, »The Twelfth Day of July« (1970), came out which was the beginning of an exceptionally successful and prolific career as a writer for children and adolescents. This volume was the first of a five-part series about »Kevin and Sadie«, two Northern Irish teenagers who, despite coming from different religious backgrounds, manage to form a relationship that goes beyond the limitations of their families. The book went on to receive the German award ZDF-Preis der Leseratten sixteen years later, and meanwhile has sold over a million copies. Not long afterwards Lingard’s even more successful sequel »Across the Barricades« (1972) was awarded the distinguished Buxtehuder Bulle. Since then she has received many further honours, including an MBE for her service to literature for young adults.
Lingard’s work – which includes novels for adults as well as children and adolescents and illustrated books for all ages – tends to focus on the conflict arising from certain traditions and circumstances in which young adults in particular at first seem helpless. Within the struggle against these conditions – which often appears as a local search for traces of the past – the protagonists develop their own conscious points of view. Apart from the stories with a Northern Irish background, other works by Lingard hark back to the experiences of her husband who as a child was forced to flee from Latvia to Canada with his parents. The four-part »Maggie Series«, in turn, is set in Glasgow and the Scottish Highlands while Edinburgh provides the location for children’s books such as »Rags and Riches« (1998) and »Glad Rags« (1990). Others take place in Spain, where Lingard spends a few months each year, including »A Secret Place« (1998) and »Encarnita’s Journey« (2005), the latest of her fifteen books for adults. This novel narrates the fate of the beautiful Spanish girl Encarnita, who was born in the twenties in a village not far from the Sierra Nevada. She receives language classes from an English poet whose guests have included the great Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey, and who dies at an old age in Edinburgh. Lingard’s novel »The Kiss« (2002) is situated in Paris where a Scottish student develops an interest in the painter Gwen John – in particular her affair with Rodin – and begins to mirror this relationship in her own obsession with her art teacher.
Her latest childrens’s book, »The Sign of the Black Dagger« was published in 2005. Many of Lingard’s books are used in English classes in German schools. The mother of three grown-up daughters lives in Edinburgh.
© internationales literaturfestival berlin