‘I used to read up trees’: Cressida Cowell on her life in books

For Cressida Cowell, the bestselling author of the How To Train Your Dragon books – which chart the adventures of 11-year-old viking Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third  – starting on a new series was nerve-wracking.

“I was worried – having loved Hiccup so much, I did think, how am I ever going to write something that I love as much?” the 51-year-old children’s author admits. “But I genuinely loved writing The Wizards Of Once in the end,” she adds of her new series. “I was working on it for about five years, while I was writing the end of How To Train Your Dragon, so I now love it as much as How To Train Your Dragon.”

(Debra Hurford Brown/PA)

Here, the writer and illustrator shares her childhood reading memories and favourite books…

What’s your first memory of reading or being read to?

“I have many memories of being read to as a child… Rudyard Kipling’s The Just So Stories; ‘the great, grey-green, greasy Limpopo river!’ A lot of the stories I remember are the ones with the rhythm.

“I was read to a very great deal by my parents and it had such an effect – I always say books read to you in your parents’ voices live with you all your life, because it sends such an important message to a child, that books are important, they matter.


The Wizards Of Once by Cressida Cowell is published in hardback by Hodder Children’s Books, priced £12.99. Available now.


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