Maggie Kneen, Children's Author & Illustrator.
We inherited our first, tiny black-and-white television when I was three; quite naturally, I immediately wanted to be Farmer Sam from the The Woodentops. I planted old potatoes in a
square patch of soil edged with old bricks, and would march down the garden to
tend my crops, munching on bread and cheese just like Sam would, out in his
Early children’s animation, it seems, had an even greater influence on
my creativity than books did—‘The Herbs’, ‘Camberwick Green’ and the fantastic
‘Clangers’ in particular. ‘Noggin the Nog’ sparked an interest in Viking history
that is still with me today; this was compounded when I was eleven and my
Grandpa told me that whilst he had been researching our family name at the
Picton Library in Liverpool, he had discovered that we were descended from the
Vikings who settled on the Isle of Man over a thousand years ago, and that the
family had lived there ever since. The name ‘Kneen’, he said, meant ‘Clan of the
Wolf’. In the spirit of Noggin, and with the magic voice of Oliver Postgate
ringing in my ears, I dared to believe it.
I’m very keen to inspire children, and adults, to learn more about our fantastic Universe (thanks to astronomer Patrick Moore, and the Clangers!) and our history within it (thanks to Noggin). Children have incredible imaginations and a great capacity to dream up what may seem to adults like impossibly magical solutions. Adults, however, can also access and harness the creative thinking of their own 'inner child', often with amazing results.
Science and the Arts have been building bridges towards one another for some time. In 2009, I had my Dad’s DNA tested within a project run by the University of
Nottingham, which aimed to test the DNA of men from the north-west of England
for possible Viking ancestry. Exact matches were found for Dad’s ‘Y-chromosome’
in DNA samples from Norway, Denmark, Germany and Slovakia (Bratislava),
suggesting that the information my Grandpa found could well have been true. We
all have such histories, and stories to tell. Just imagine.....