About Brian Jacques
A mouse is small and can go unnoticed: but there is no limit to what a brave heart and a fearless spirit can achieve.
Brian Jacques (pronounced 'jakes') was born in Liverpool, England on June 15th, 1939. Along with forty percent of the population of Liverpool, his ancestral roots are in Ireland, County Cork to be exact.
Brian grew up in the area around the Liverpool docks, where he attended St. John's School, an inner city school featuring a playground on its roof. At the age of ten, his very first day at St. John's foreshadowed his future career as an author; given an assignment to write a story about animals, he wrote a short story about a bird who cleaned a crocodile's teeth. Brian's teacher could not, and would not believe that a ten year old could write so well. When young Brian refused to falsely say that he had copied the story, he was caned as "a liar". He had always loved to write, but it was only then that he realized he had a talent for it.
My favourite teacher was Mr. Austin Thomas. He looked like Lee Marvin. Big Man. A Captain in World War II. He came to school on a big push bike with the haversack on back. He was a man's man. Always fair. I was fourteen at the time when Mr. Thomas introduced the class to poetry and Greek literature. It was because of him, I saved seven shillings and sixpence to buy The Iliad and The Odyssey at this dusty used book shop.
Brian's interest in poetry soon extended to Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Goldsmith. Also at an early age, Brian explored adventure stories by authors such as:
It was also at St. John's that Brian met Alan Durband, an English teacher who would more than thirty years later forever change his life. Alan Durband also taught English to two Beatles, Paul McCartney and George Harrison.
After Brian finished school at fifteen, he set out to find adventure as a merchant seaman. He travelled to many far away ports, including New York, Valparaiso, San Francisco, and Yokohama. Tiring of the lonely life of a sailor, he returned to Liverpool where he worked as a railway fireman, a longshoreman, a long-distance truck driver, a bus driver, a boxer, a bobby (Police Constable 216D), a postmaster, and a stand-up comic.
During the sixties, when The Beatles put the world spotlight on Liverpool, he and six others including his two brothers, formed a folksinging group known as The Liverpool Fishermen. Both his brothers emigrated to New Zealand. His older brother, Tony, a carpenter, lived there with his children and grandchildren, until 1998 when he passed away. His younger brother, Jimmy, returned to Britain after twelve years. He is married to Sandra, and has twin sons, Paul and Sean.
Mr. Jacques has written both poetry and music, but he began his writing career in earnest as a playwright. His three stage plays Brown Bitter, Wet Nellies, and Scouse have been performed at the Everyman Theatre. "Scouse" is a slang term for someone from Liverpool, named after the cheap, nearly meatless stew that is a staple in the traditional Liverpool working man's diet.
Brian wrote Redwall for the children at the Royal Wavertree School for the Blind in Liverpool, where as a truck driver, he delivered milk. Because of the nature of his first audience, he made his style of writing as descriptive as possible, painting pictures with words so that the schoolchildren could see them in their imaginations. He remains a patron of the school to this day.
Jacques' writing gained acclaim when his childhood English teacher, Alan Durband, read Redwall, and showed it to a publisher without telling Brian. This event led to a contract for the first five books in the Redwall series, and a dedication to Alan in the front of several Redwall books.
Brian lives in Liverpool, as do his two grown sons: Marc, a carpenter and bricklayer, and David, a professor of Art and a muralist. David Jacques' work can be seen in Children's hospitals, soccer stadiums, and trade union offices as far away as Germany, Mexico, and Chile (not to mention Brian's photo featured in most of his books).
Brian also ran a weekly radio show on BBC Radio Merseyside, until October 2006, where he shared his comedy and wit, and played his favourites from the world of opera - he is a veritable expert on The Three Tenors.
Mr. Jacques enjoys walking his dog 'Teddy', a white West Highland Terrier, and completing crossword puzzles. When there's time he reads the works of Mario Puzo, Damon Runyon, Richard Condon, Larry McMurty, and P.G. Wodehouse. He's also been known to cook an impressive version of his favourite dish, spaghetti and meatballs.