Philippa Pearce OBE was an English author of children's books. Her most famous work is the time slip fantasy novel Tom's Midnight Garden, which won the 1958 Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, as the year's outstanding children's book by a British subject. Pearce was four further times a commended runner-up for the Medal.
Pearce wrote over 30 books, including A Dog So Small (1962), Minnow on the Say, (1955), The Squirrel Wife (1971), The Battle of Bubble and Squeak (1978) and The Way To Sattin Shore (1983). The Shadow Cage and other tales of the supernatural (1977), Minnow on the Say, Bubble and Squeak, and Sattin Shore were all Carnegie Medal runners-up. The Battle of Bubble and Squeak inspired a two-part television adaptation in Channel 4's Talk, Write and Read series of educational programming.
The youngest of four children of a flour miller and corn merchant, Ernest Alexander Pearce, and his wife Gertrude Alice née Ramsden, Philippa Pearce was born in the village of Great Shelford, Cambridgeshire, and brought up there on the River Cam at the Mill House. Starting school late at the age of eight because of illness, she was educated at the Perse School for Girls in Cambridge, and went on to Girton College, Cambridge on a scholarship to read English and History there.
After gaining her degree, Pearce moved to London, where she found work as a civil servant. Later she wrote and produced schools' radio programmes for the BBC, where she remained for 13 years. She was a children's editor at the Oxford University Press from 1958 to 1960 and at the André Deutsch publishing firm from 1960 to 1967.
In 1951 Pearce spent a long period in hospital recovering from tuberculosis. She passed the time there thinking about a canoe trip she had taken many years before, which became the inspiration for her first book, Minnow on the Say, published in 1955 with illustrations by Edward Ardizzone. It was a commended runner-up for the annual Carnegie Medal. It was adapted for television in Canada as a 1960 TV series with the original title, and for British television in 1972 as Treasure over the Water.
Pearce's second book was Tom's Midnight Garden, published in 1958. Its "midnight garden" was based directly on the garden of the Mill House where Pearce was raised. The novel inspired a film, a stage play and three TV versions. It won the annual Carnegie Medal and for the 70th anniversary celebration in 2007, a panel named it one of the top ten Medal-winning works, which composed the ballot for a public election of the nation's favourite. Tom's Midnight Garden finished second in the vote from that shortlist, between two books that were about 40 years younger.
Every September from 2008, the Philippa Pearce Memorial Lecture at Homerton College, Cambridge celebrates "excellence in writing for children and to emphasize its continuing vital importance." The lecturers are children's literature authors, scholars or critics, and most of the lectures are published online.