- 14 Jul 22
The novelist, who spent most of her childhood and teenage years living in Belfast, has been described as "one of the pioneers of YA fiction."
Fellow writers, fans, family and friends of Joan Lingard have been sharing tributes to the Scottish novelist, following news of her passing, aged 90.
Lingard, who was considered one of the pioneers of Young Adult fiction, penned 60 novels for both adults and children, including the popular Kevin and Sadies series. Set in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, the series featured The Twelfth Day of July (1970), Across the Barricades (1972), Into Exile (1973), A Proper Place (1975) and Hostages to Fortune (1976). As of 2010, the books in the series had sold 1.3 million copies worldwide.
The author was born in Edinburgh, but moved to Belfast when she was two, and stayed there until she was 18.
"It was there that I grew up, went to school, made my first friends, learned to read and write," she wrote on her website. "Inevitably, then, Belfast and Northern Ireland have had a strong influence on my writing."
Her literary agent, Lindsey Fraser of Fraser Ross Associates, is among those who have shared their memories of Lingard following the news of her death.
“I read Joan’s novels as a teenager, sold her books as a bookseller, worked with her at Scottish Book Trust and had the privilege of being her literary agent," she told The Bookseller. "She was always inspiring and forthright, and she trusted her readers – children and adults — with big ideas and authentic emotions delivered through watertight plots. She was clever and focused – thank goodness she used her considerable talents to write novels.”
Speaking to The Irish Times, Northern Irish writer Jan Carson said that she considered the Kevin and Sadies books deeply influential, as her "first experience of encountering characters who sounded like me and came from the same part of the world as me."
“Lingard played an enormously instrumental role in reminding so many of us Northern Irish creatives that our stories were valid, interesting and worth exploring," she added.
Carmel Mc Mahon – author of the upcoming In Ordinary Time – also took to Twitter to pay tribute, noting: "All these years later, I can still feel those Kevin and Sadie books burning inside me. RIP Joan Lingard."
Joan's daughter, Kersten England, also paid tribute.
"A woman whose life and work touched so many lives including mine," she wrote on Twitter. "She taught me everything about standing up to prejudice and bigotry and tackling injustice. Most of all she was my Mum."
Sinead Rocks, Channel 4's Managing Director for Nations & Regions, who hails from Belfast, shared Kersten's post on Twitter, adding that Joan's "amazing books were a huge part of so many childhoods, particularly those of us in Belfast. And she definitely helped shape my love for reading."
Martin Doyle, Books Editor of The Irish Times, described Lingard as a "hugely influential chronicler of the Troubles for young people in Ireland, Britain and further afield."
See more tributes to Joan Lingard below:
Sad news - Joan Lingard died on Tuesday, the Twelfth Day of July, appropriately enough. Author of over 60 books, she was one of the pioneers of YA fiction - her Kevin and Sadie series, set in Northern Ireland, is still widely read after 50 years. https://t.co/3CMg3ZFmyh
— Fraser Ross Assoc (@FraserRossLA) July 14, 2022
"Life is limited, but by writing, and reading, we can live in different worlds, get inside the skins and minds of other people."
Following the sad news of her death, we have chosen this #quote in honour of writer Joan Lingard.
🖤 RIP Joan Lingard 1932-2022 pic.twitter.com/6QVHkIZXLY
— Hive.co.uk (@hivestores) July 14, 2022
It would be difficult to over-state how big an influence the Kevin and Sadie series had on me as a child. Her books awakened my interest in politics and my sense of outrage but were also just a great read. RIP Joan Lingard. https://t.co/yVd6P31S9M
— Dani Garavelli (@DaniGaravelli1) July 14, 2022
Joan Lingard, author of Kevin and Sadie series, dies aged 90. Her books were known and loved by generations of teenagers in Northern Ireland, not least myself. RIP. https://t.co/XVeOO3BhvB
— Freya McClements (@freyamcc) July 14, 2022
RIP Joan Lingard, who has died aged 90. Her Through The Barricades/Kevin and Sadie series of books helped children like me understand a bit more about the realities of growing up in Northern Ireland in the 70s.
— Catherine Taylor 🇺🇦🌻 (@KatyaTaylor) July 14, 2022