Leila Berg was a pioneering writer and story-teller whose contributions to children’s literature and progressive education still retain their humorous and anarchic attraction.
Leila wrote primarily for children, from early readers to adolescents. Her best-remembered books include The Little Pete Stories, The Little Car Has a Day Out, The Adventures of Chunky, and a multicultural collection of Folk Tales. She was also the inspired editor of a ground-breaking series of readers called Nippers, colour-coded for progress by ability rather than age, for which she wrote over 20 stories herself, and commissioned work by then-unknown writers, such as Trevor Griffiths, J L Carr, Beryl Gilroy, Denise Robertson and Jaqueline Wilson, among others!
For adults, she wrote about children growing and learning, and about children’s rights and progressive schooling, most memorably in Risinghill: Death of a Comprehensive. She also wrote of her own childhood and adolescence in Flickerbook. Her last book, The God Stories, written to be shared aloud across the generations, was Leila’s unique take on the ancient fables that later evolved into the Old Testament.
The most complete collection of Leila’s work for children is housed at Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, in Newcastle, which also archives her remaining papers. Her work and associated papers for adults is archived at the School of Education of London University. All up she published about 70 books for various ages in a huge variety of sizes and styles. She always kept close control over illustrations, using artists such as George Him, Lisa Kopper, Richard Rose, and Peggy Fortnum. Leila also wrote the text for photographer John Walmsley’s book, Neill and Summerhill on A S Neill’s famous progressive school.
Interest in re-publication in English and translation is welcome. All work is copyright, and enquiries can be addressed to Richford Becklow Literary Agency.