Born near Chester-le-Street, County Durham in 1934, Chambers was an only child, and a poor scholar; considered "slow" by his teachers, he did not learn to read fluently until the age of nine. After two years in the Royal Navy as part of his National Service, Chambers trained as a teacher and taught for three years at Westcliff High School in Southend on Sea before joining an Anglican monastery in Stroud, Gloucestershire in 1960. His young-adult novel Now I Know (1987) is based partly on his experiences as a monk.
His first plays, including Johnny Salter (1966), The Car and The Chicken Run (1968), were published while he was a teacher at Archway School in Stroud.
Chambers left the monastery in 1967 and a year later became a freelance writer. His works include the "Dance sequence" of six novels (1978 to 2005): Breaktime, Dance on My Grave, Now I Know, The Toll Bridge, Postcards from No Man's Land and This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn. He and his wife, Nancy, founded Thimble Press and the magazine Signal to promote literature for children and young adults. They were awarded the Eleanor Farjeon Award for outstanding services to children's books in 1982. From 2003 to 2006 he was President of the School Library Association.
Chambers won two major annual book awards for Postcards from No Man's Land, published by Bodley Head in 1999, one being the Carnegie Medal in Literature from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book by a British subject. The other was the Michael L. Printz Award for specifically young-adult literature, recognising the first U.S. edition published three years later.
Dance on My Grave: a life and a death in four parts, one hundred and seventeen bits, six running reports and two press clippings, with a few jokes, a puzzle or three, some footnotes and a fiasco now and then to help the story along is a 1982 young adult novel by British author Aidan Chambers. It is the second book in the Dance Sequence series.
It tells the story of a British teenager named Henry Robinson, detailing the events that led to his dancing on the grave of his slightly older friend, Barry Gorman, with whom Robinson had a love affair.
It was one of the first few young adult books published by a major publisher that depicts homosexuality without being judgmental and was included on ALA's and other libraries' list of books for gay teens. It has also been referred to in a number of books on children and young adult literature.
Because of its gay-positive theme, it was challenged at the Montgomery County Memorial Library System in 2004 by the Library Patrons of Texas.
Dance on My Grave has been translated into at least 9 other languages in both Asia and Europe.
Dance on My Grave by Aidan Chambers
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Amulet Books; 1 edition (October 1, 2008)
Amazon: Dance on My Grave
Amulet Books is the home of Aidan Chambers, “one of young-adult literature’s greatest living writers.”
“With profound respect for readers, Chambers again stretches the YA genre to its edges and beyond. . . . Ambitious, imperfect, challenging, and powerfully affecting.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
In this revelatory, groundbreaking novel, the love of sixteen-year-old Hal Robinson for self-confident Barry Gorman is revealed through Hal’s own observations, press clippings, and the scattered notes of a social worker. These various perspectives contribute to an extraordinarily sensitive portrait of the intensity of first love. The Horn Book writes, “The author is marvelously gifted at suggesting the ecstasy and insecurity that accompany new love—including its emotional and physical, social and spiritual aspects. A major strength of the book, the central conflict hinges not on the lovers being gay, but on their having two idiosyncratic and contradictory personalities.”
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