Eleanor Farjeon was born on February 13th, 1881, in London. She wrote lyrics and her brother Harry wrote the music for songs they performed in London. She published her first magazine story, “The Cardboard Angel,” in Hutchinson’s at the age of nineteen. She was a regular contributor to Punch from 1914-17, wrote verse as “Tomfool” for the London Daily Herald (1917-30), and was a staff member for the magazine Time and Tide during the 1920s. As a playwright, she is well-known for “The Glass Slipper” (1944) and “The Silver Curlew” (1949), both based on fairytales.
The Horn Book, in 1956, published an article by Frances Claire Sayers which said of Farjeon’s writing, “There is little whimsy in it, but great magic and stout humor, wit, and free-running nonsense. The miraculous quality is the freshness and originality; the themes, the incidents, the ‘glad invention’ which well up endlessly, tale after tale, story after story, resembling nothing so much as the never-ending variety of melody and theme of Mozart’s music.”
The Children’s Book Circle in London gives its Eleanor Farjeon Award every year in recognition of distinguished contribution to the world of children’s books; Phillip Pullman was the recipient in 2002 and Miriam Hodgson, editor for 35 years at Egmont Children’s Books, was presented with this award in 2003. In 2012, the Eleanor Farjeon Award was presented to Quentin Blake and in 2013, David Almond received the Award.
Of her, the Children’s Book Circle wrote, “While Eleanor Farjeon was the first recipient of the Regina Award of the American Catholic Library Association, she did turn down another honour—Dame of the British Empire—explaining that she ‘did not wish to become different from the milkman.'”
Farjeon was a friend of many poets including D.H. Lawrence, Walter de la Mare, and Robert Frost. Today she would perhaps be best known for writing the hymn “Morning Has Broken,” which was recorded by Cat Stevens. She died in 1965.