Biography of Ian Serraillier

Ian Serraillier was a British author, poet, and translator, best known for his young-adult works such as The Silver Sword.

Serraillier was born in 1912, the eldest of four children. When he was six, his father died of the 1918 flu pandemic, and since his mother was often ill, he cared for his siblings. He looked forward to the family’s holidays in Switzerland, which would inform his later written works. He attended Brighton College and graduated from St. Edmund Hall, Oxford in 1935 and became an English teacher, a job that he held for twenty-five years.

He published his first children’s novel, They Raced to Adventure, in 1946, and continued to publish many more afterwards. His most famous works include The Silver Sword (1956), The Clashing Rocks, The Cave of Death, and Flight to Adventure.

When World War II began, Serraillier invoked his religious background as a Quaker to obtain conscientious objector status. His observations, however, were still potent enough to ensure his novels would be characterized by veracity.

Serraillier also published his own “translations,” or retellings, of classic tales such as Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, and Greek myths; in addition, he published poems for adults, radio verse plays, picture books, and an introduction to Chaucer for students.

In 1948 he and his wife, Ann Rogers, with whom he had four children, founded the New Windmill series, published by Heinemann Educational Books. The series eventually grew to over 350 titles. Serraillier stepped down when he began experiencing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in the early 1990s.

Serraillier died on November 28th, 1994.

Study Guides on Works by Ian Serraillier

The Silver Sword is a children's novel published in 1956 by British author Ian Serraillier. It is widely considered to be a classic of children’s literature.

Serraillier began the work in 1949, five years after World War II's end, and took five...