Stretham Topsy and Tim author is given an honorary fellowship from Goldsmith’s University in London

PUBLISHED: 18:32 15 February 2016 | UPDATED: 09:51 16 February 2016

Author Jean Adamson opening Stretham Feast in 2010

Author Jean Adamson opening Stretham Feast in 2010


Stretham author Jean Adamson – the creator of more than 100 much-loved children’s books spanning five decades – is this week being awarded an honorary fellowship from Goldsmiths University.

Celebration Day at Littleport Primary School. (l-r) Author Jean Adamson, head teacher Lesley Plant, and Head chef for 31 years EuniceCelebration Day at Littleport Primary School. (l-r) Author Jean Adamson, head teacher Lesley Plant, and Head chef for 31 years Eunice

Students graduating from the MA in children’s literature will be joined by Mrs Adamson after she was nominated by professor Carrie Paechter, head of the department of educational studies.

Professor Paechter said: “Topsy and Tim was a ground-breaking series for many reasons. It showed children leading ordinary, simple lives, while showing an interest in the world around them.

“Jean’s illustrations are clear and simple but highly engaging, and the storylines always amuse.

“For the female character, Topsy, to get into as much trouble as her brother was highly unusual at the time.

“This was extremely important for childhood education in the ‘60s and more than 50 years later, they’re still some of the most equality-conscious children’s stories around.

“I would imagine a lot of staff, as well as students, and parents at our graduation ceremonies remember the books from their childhood - they span the generations.

“I know how thrilled I was myself to arrive at nursery to see a whole cupboard of Topsy and Tim books!”

In 1999 Jean Adamson was awarded an MBE for her services to children’s literature.

Born in Peckham, London, in 1928, Jean attended grammar school until the age of 16, before joining Goldsmiths to study illustration.

Here she met her future husband and writing partner Gareth Adamson (1926-1982) and, after graduating, continued to teach illustration and design at the university.

Jean also worked for a large animation company, creating illustrations for Birds Custard among other clients, in the 1950s.

After marrying in 1957, Jean and Gareth moved to Newcastle and began working on children’s books together, with Gareth producing the storylines and Jean the illustration.

The Adamsons aimed to create modern, fresh, contemporary books, starring characters and plots that children of the ‘60s could relate to and actually experience.

More than 130 Topsy and Tim titles have been published, selling upwards of 21 million copies around the world. Since 1998, over a million copies have been sold in the UK alone. Sixty episodes of an animated TV series followed, and so far three seasons of a live-action version have broadcast on CBeebies.

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