Cressida Cowell

Cressida grew up in London and on a small, uninhabited island off the west coast of Scotland. The island had no roads, houses or electricity. For the first four years, the family would be dropped off like castaways on the island by a local boatman and picked up again two weeks later. Imagine being like Robinson Crusoe and having a whole island to yourself to explore…

By the time Cressida was eight, the family had built a small stone house on the island, so they no longer had to camp out in tents, which made life much drier. Her father got a boat, so they could fish for enough food to feed the family for the whole summer. Every year, Cressida spent the long summer holiday, and some of the spring, on the island. The house was lit by candle-light, and there was no electricity, telephone or television, so Cressida and the family lived like people in the olden days. In the evening, Cressida’s father told the children old Scottish tales about the people who lived on the surrounding islands, who were always fighting and tricking each other, and about dragons living in caves in the cliffs.

Cressida spent her time writing stories, fishing for things to eat, and exploring the island looking for these dragons. These childhood experiences (quite apart from her fluency in Old Norse, of course), made her delighted to be approached to translate the Hiccup memoirs.

After school, Cressida obtained a BA in English Literature from Oxford University, a BA in Graphic Design from St Martin’s and an MA in Narrative Illustration from Brighton. Cressida wrote and illustrated her first picture book, Little Bo Peep’s Library Book for Hodder Children’s Books in 1998. She loves to write picture books and her Emily Brown series, illustrated by Neal Layton, was winner of the 5 and Under category of the Nestlé Children’s Book Prize 2006. Her first novel for eight to twelve year olds, How to Train Your Dragon, was published to popular and critical acclaim in 2003.

Cressida is married to Simon Cowell (who is not THAT Simon Cowell, but a quite different Simon Cowell). They live in London with their three children, Maisie, Clementine and Alexander.

Video and more information…

Downloadable Resources

  • Dragonese Activity Pack

    The pack takes as its starting point the Viking period in which the How to Train Your Dragon books are set, with information and activities touching upon history, geography, creative writing, languages and design and technology. It is designed to be cross-curricular, and suitable for teaching children ages 5-11.

Questions Submitted

Question from denton primary school

Question(s) from Lorna Burrow at Denton Primary School
– What inspired you to be an author? from Megan Kass
– Is anyone else in your family a writer? from Tiernan Goodman
– Are you writing any more How to Train Your Dragon books? by Eloise Crocker
– Have you written other types of books ? by Danny Garman
– What is your favourite book? by Joshim Ali
– What was the first book that you wrote? by Nicole Tuska
– Did the people making the cartoons ask your advice? by Mollie Freeman
– How many books have you written? by Sior Sinclair
– Do you believe in dragons? by Amy Davis
– What is your favourite dragon that you have created and why? by Chloe Hallam
– What was it like living on a remote island? Did it feel strange? by Libby Garlick
– Who is your favourite author? by Thomas Dorey
– How does it feel to see your books on the big screen? by Evie Pitcher

Question from SW London HS Association

Question(s) from Lucy Garder at SW London HS Association
– How amazingly does David Tennant do the voices for the audiobooks? I’d like to know which of the voice-characters from the audiobooks is your favourite, mine is Toothless even though he sounds a very little bit like Keith Allen with a lisp. And please tell me he’s going to narrate all the books eventually!