It all started with a book on tape set with a picture of a sword-wielding mouse on the cover. In fancy font the title read “Redwall.” This was my first experience with the world of Redwall Abbey and Mossflower Woods. I was 7 or 8 at the time, and the author Brian Jacques read the story himself. Initially, his thick English/Irish accent made it hard to understand him. Still, I was captivated by the epic story of Matthias the mouse as he tried to defend his abbey and discover the sword of Martin the Warrior. I’ve gone on to read many of the Redwall series, and I owe Brian Jacques for inspiring me to write my first 19,000 word “novel.” (I posted a sample of that novel which you can find here.) Today, I wanted to post a profile on Mr. Jacques as a way of sharing his works with those who haven’t heard of him and of learning more about the man who inspired me to start writing!
Brian Jacques was born in Liverpool, England. His father, who was a French truck driver, passed his love of reading, especially books by authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson, on to his young son. When Mr. Jacques was ten, he wrote a story for school about a bird who cleaned a crocodile’s teeth. It was so good his teacher was convinced that he had stolen the story. When Mr. Jacques insisted the story was his own, his teacher punished him. After telling the story in a Scholastic interview (link at the end), Mr. Jacques said, “I had always loved to write, but it was then that I realized that I had a talent for it.” At the age of fifteen, he went off to sea, and sailed to numerous ports all around the world such as New York and Yokohama. After a few years on the high seas, he returned home and worked at various jobs such as “a railway fireman, a longshoreman, a long-distance truck driver, a bus driver, a boxer, a bobby (Police Constable 216D), a postmaster, and a stand-up comic.” (from http://www.redwallabbey.com/) It was at one of his jobs, delivering milk, where Jacques met the blind children of Royal Wavertree School for the Blind. He later decided to write a story for them that would paint a picture so that the children could “see” the world of Mossflower. Mr. Jacques originally handwrote Redwall on 800 sheets of recycled paper, which he kept in a Safeway grocery bag. He never planned to publish his story, that was until his childhood English teacher Alan Durband secretly sent Redwall to a publisher. The publisher accepted the book, and Mr. Jacques had a contract to write the first five books of the Redwall series. Today, there are 21 books in the Redwall series. Sadly, Mr. Jacques died on February 5th, 2011 at the age of 71. His stories live on however, as Redwall has sold over 20 million copies and has been translated into 16 languages.
If you’ve never read any of Mr. Jacques’s books, I definitely recommend checking them out! They’re even better if you can hear them dramatized and read by him. I’m currently listening to The Taggerung. It’s been really good!
Here are a few interviews and biographies I used to help me write this post:
Have you ever read a Brian Jacques book? If so, which one was your favorite? Comment below and tell me!