A natural heir to Roald Dahl, David Walliams is undoubtedly one of the world’s most talented and laugh-aloud-funny children’s authors. Best-known for his novels for children including Mr Stink, Billionaire Boy and Awful Auntie, Walliams has also written a number of picture books including The Slightly Annoying Elephant, working with two of Britain’s most talented illustrators, Quentin Blake and Tony Ross.
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BiographyAlready an established national media presence, Walliams had conquered the worlds of comedy, stage and screen including writing and starring in award-winning programmes like Little Britain when in 2008 he turned his talent to fiction, writing his first book for children, The Boy in the Dress.
The book challenged convention, featuring a cross-dressing football fan as his main character, a subject close to Walliams heart, he commented ‘luckily the world is changing and attitudes are changing… it's about difference and people accepting that people are different.’ The book was Walliams first collaboration with Dahl’s own preferred illustrator Quentin Blake, who was initially wary of taking on a ‘celebrity’ project but found himself charmed by the story, commenting ‘it doesn’t matter who wrote it, it’s just very good. It was quite different in mood and very funny, but more sensitive than I had expected.’
The World of Walliams
Walliams followed this breakthrough success with his second Blake project the next year, Mr Stink. The story of a little girl who makes friends with a homeless man, ‘the stinkiest stinker who ever lived’ and the friendship changes her life. Cementing the success of the first book, Mr Stink went on to become a worldwide bestseller and was later televised with a record 6.34 million viewers tuning in to watch.
His third book, Billionaire Boy, launched a collaboration with Tony Ross who provided images for his the book and has continued to work with Walliams on his later novels, including the massively successful Awful Auntie, The Demon Dentist, Ratburger and a collection of stories cataloguing The World’s Worst Children.
Walliam’s success partly stems from an innate grasp of the comedic potential of outrageous characters we nevertheless recognise instantly – from the power-hungry councillor mother in Mr Stink to the terrorising battle-axe Aunt Alberta in Awful Auntie. One reviewer summed up the comedic secret saying ‘There are plenty of jokes (Walliams knows how to write a very funny list), a couple of comedy baddies and some truly awful school dinners.
In 2013, alongside continuing to write his novels for older children, Walliams entered new fictional territory with his first picture book, The Slightly Annoying Elephant, working with his long-term illustrator Tony Ross to write about a big blue elephant who turns up uninvited and starts being very bossy indeed.
With more books on the horizon, it’s clear that Walliams is far from short of new ideas. Dahl wrote 17 novels for children in his lifetime, I suspect there would be few who would want to bet against Walliams overtaking him.
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