Born in 1948, Julia Donaldson was born and raised in North London with her younger sister, parents and extended family all sharing the family home. Her first interests were firmly rooted in music, her father being a Cello player and her mother a keen singer; herself and her sister were also members of the Children’s Opera Group. Attending Bristol University to study French and Drama, Donaldson met Malcolm, her future husband and together they busked their way around Europe, making up songs in the language of the country they were visiting, before marrying and settling in Glasgow.
A writer of songs for children’s BBC television, her first publication ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ in 1993 was as a direct result of her song writing abilities with this indeed originally beginning life as one of Donaldson’s musical compositions. This first book was illustrated by Axel Scheffler and was set to be the beginning of a long and fruitful working relationship and friendship.
Her second book published, in 1999, was none other than The Gruffalo, a book which has sold over 3.5 million copies and remains a firm favourite of children, both big and small. The Gruffalo has also been released as an audio book, soft toy and musical CD. It has also been performed as a musical stage play both in London and on Broadway, New York. A multi award winning book, the sequel ‘The Gruffalo’s Child’ released in 2004 has also received recognition and accolade.
Writing for both schools and the general public Julia Donaldson has had in excess of 140 books published to date with many more planned for release in the future. In addition to her rhyming and story books Donaldson has also written plays, for both small groups and class sized groups and musicals to be performed by adults for children.
Still true to her musical beginnings she has also released two CD’s of folk inspired music entitled First Fourteen and Second Fourteen for her ‘grown-up’ fan base.
Taking inspiration from diverse themes such as Chinese folklore (The Gruffalo) and from her own natural ability with rhyme and language Donaldson has revealed a true affinity with children and their fantastical view of the world around them.