Award winning author discovers a taste for Warminster custard

At the invitation of the School Library and the history and English departments, the multi award-winning historical author, Catherine Johnson came to Warminster School.  She came to talk to Years 6 – 8 about her exciting historical novels (“history with lies”, as she candidly described them), one of which, Freedom 1783, we had been reading over the summer holiday.  Asked about her motivation to write, Catherine replied that, “I wanted to write historical novels to set the record straight about women and black people (or people who were both) in history.  Their stories haven’t always been told and their contributions aren’t always known or mentioned in standard history books.  As my dad was Jamaican, I have always wondered what historical role his ancestors may have played and I used to think “That’s NOT right!” when I couldn’t easily find out. I recently helped to televise a book called Black Tudors and that really got me excited as I think I’m now managing to reset the balance a bit.”

During a delicious Warminster lunch (Catherine was a fan of the pie and really rated the custard!), she was interviewed by Year 7 pupil Rebecca Shepherd, who had won this prestigious honour by submitting in writing why, in her view, she would be the right pupil for the job.  Rebecca clearly illustrated her love of the written word and natural affinity with reading.  Click on the link to read for yourself her thought provoking questions and Catherine’s insightful answers.

Catherine kicked off her busy afternoon of book signing, workshops and poster judging by answering probing questions from the audience that filled the TA Hall. Catherine was warm and very real about her writing, and so the audience quickly felt comfortable enough to grill her about her books and the writing process.  Year 7 were then lucky enough to take part in a writing workshop where Catherine effectively overcame cases of writer’s block and inspired some great embryonic novels.

Catherine Johnson Factoids

  • Catherine loves Warminster School custard – she had not eaten custard for years and had forgotten what she was missing!
  • “History with lies” is her own description of historical fiction
  • Catherine is currently co-authoring a computer game (sadly no clues were available as to which one)
  • She writes for Holby City, the TV hospital drama
  • She has published 20 books
  • She has won several book prizes including one for radical children’s fiction in 2019
  • Catherine is now a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL), a very prestigious award

Sarah Bersey, Assistant Librarian