Funding, Partnerships

Award Winning author & Illustrator announced as New Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland

1st January, 2022

Award-winning author and illustrator Paul Howard has accepted the post as the new Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University Belfast.

Children’s Writing Fellow Paul Howard sitting at desk with children’s author Kelly McCaughrain standing beside the desk.
Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland, Paul Howard

The Fellowship was created as part of Queen’s University and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland's joint ten-year Seamus Heaney Legacy project supported by the Atlantic Philanthropies. Paul will be based at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s for two years, working with students and engaged in outreach activities.

Speaking about the appointment, Paul said:

“I’m truly honoured to be appointed our new Children’s Writing Fellow, adding to the amazing achievements of my previous Fellows, Myra Zepf and Kelly McCaughrain. As an illustrator, primarily, I aim to bring a new dimension to the role through promoting visual literacy as an alternative, accessi-ble gateway for students and children of all literacy levels to engage in, building enough confidence in them to read and create their own stories. The Fellowship will also enable me to use the opportunity to take my story-building workshops to schools, who, for whatever reason, have never experienced an au-thor or illustrator visit before, endeavour to seek creative inspiration outside of the classroom and shine a light on the incredibly rich heritage of children’s literature we have in this corner of the country.”

Paul Howard is an award-winning children’s author and illustrator, best known for illustrating Jill Tomlinson’s classic THE OWL WHO WAS AFRAID OF THE DARK and THE BURPEE BEARS, a new picture book series from Joe Wicks.

After gaining a First Class Honour’s Degree in Graphic Design & Illustration in 1989, Paul worked at The Natural History Museum for a while before becoming a full time illustrator. His work has since won acclaim from the publishing industry and children across the world.

During his 30 year long career he has collaborated with some of the greats of children’s literature such as Allan Ahlberg, Michael Rosen, Geraldine McCaughrean, Anne Fine, Trish Cooke, Martin Waddell and John Boyne, and won numerous awards including a Blue Peter Award for THE BRAVEST EVER BEAR and The Primary English Award for THE YEAR IN THE CITY.

Aside from his numerous school, library, bookshop and arts centre visits across Northern Ireland, Paul has appeared at many literary festivals, including Hay, the Edinburgh Book Festival and the Belfast Chil-dren’s Festival.

Paul has lived in Belfast for over 20 years with his wife and their three children. Alongside illustrating for others, he has also had a range of his own stories published: young fiction titles, picture books and board books, the latest of which was 1,2, BOO! for Bloomsbury.

Speaking on behalf of the Estate of Seamus Heaney, Catherine Heaney said:

“We are delighted to hear of the appointment of Paul Howard as Children’s Writing Fellow for North-ern Ireland. With his decades of experience as an author and illustrator of children’s books, Paul knows exactly how to connect with young people in the classroom and beyond, firing their imaginations and en-couraging them in their own reading and writing. We look forward to seeing him build on the incredible work done by his predecessors Myra Zepf and Kelly McCaughrain and wish him every success in the role.”

Professor Glenn Patterson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast, said:

“We look forward to welcoming Paul to the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s and working with him over the next two years as the next Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland.

“Paul is a respected and award-winning children’s author and illustrator, it is not just children of school age who will benefit from this appointment: our own students will learn much from, and be in-spired by, his vast creative knowledge and wealth of experience.”

Paul McVeigh, Acting Head of Literature at the Arts Council for NI, comment-ed:

“We are delighted to announce Paul Howard’s appointment today as the new Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland. In his role, he will be working with children of all ages and stages of reading to explore the joy of books, as well as encouraging them to embark on their own story-telling ad-ventures through illustration and words.

“We’d like to thank Kelly for the inspiration she has provided to budding young writers over the last two years, providing them with the tools and confidence to discover new stories and craft their own work.”

Paul Howard will take up his post as the Children’s Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland in January 2022.