Happy Birthday, Mark Haddon!
By: Tess Wilson
My first Mark Haddon experience was reading his 2004 novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. My next experience was reading it again. And again. I then went on to read Boom!, a middle-grade adventure; The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea, a book of poetry; and The Pier Falls, a short story collection. From this list alone, one gets an idea of Haddon’s wide range of style and subject. His poetry is at once whimsical and puzzling, and his short stories continue to haunt me. Since its publication, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time has been adapted into an acclaimed play by Simon Stephens. However, the source material has not existed without controversy. Some schools have banned this beloved mystery from their curricula for language used. In 2014, following one such incident, Haddon posted this response on his website:
my own feelings are largely ones of weary bemusement. it’s happened before on many occasions (sometimes blasphemy and atheism are added to the charge sheet) though i’m only aware of cases in the usa. curious is not short of readers, banning it almost certainly makes the book more attractive to those from whom it is being withheld and these kind of controversies make people talk and think hard about books and reading which is always a good thing.
Haddon was born on October 28, 1962, in Northampton, England. After obtaining degrees from Oxford University and Edinburgh University, he wrote and illustrated pieces for several magazines in the UK. In addition to these early articles and cartoons, he also contributed his writing to some episodes of the television show Microsoap. In 1987, he wrote and illustrated his first book: Gilbert’s Gobstopper. Since then, he has written many books for readers of all ages. His website can be found at www.markhaddon.com but he admits he’s much more active on Twitter and Instagram.
Tess Wilson is an Outreach Librarian at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and a Trainer with The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Her writing can be found on the YALSA and OIF blogs, on VIDA Reviews, and on the Eleventh Stack blog. Currently, she is an ALA Emerging Leader, a PaLA Leadership Academy participant, and a librarian in the inaugural Library Freedom Institute cohort. She is a collector of everything from big dictionaries to small rocks, and her latest acquisitions were an MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University and an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh. Find her on Twitter @tesskwg.