I was born near Hampstead Heath on October 24th 1932. My mother was Kathleen Fabian, a Froebel-trained nursery school teacher and my father was Jock Mitchell, a research chemist from Cupar, Fife. They were always kind and loving parents. I was educated at a nameless school in Hell and then at Greenways, a school in Heaven, where my first play, The Animals' Brains Trust, was staged when I was nine to my great satisfaction. I was a teenager at Dauntsey's School in Wiltshire, where my friend Gordon Snell and I staged and co-starred in many plays. I was conscripted against my will into the RAF, which taught me to touch-type and confirmed my natural pacifism. I spent three happy years at Christ Church, Oxford. Deciding not to be a primary school teacher because the classes were far too large - as they still are - I became a reporter on the Oxford Mail, then the Evening Standard in London. Inheriting enough money to live on for a year, I wrote my first novel and my first TV play. Soon afterwards I became a freelance journalist, writing about pop music for the Daily Mail and TV for the pre-tabloid Sun and the Sunday Times. I quit journalism in the mid-Sixties and since then have been a free-falling poet, playwright and writer of stories. The rest of my life can be traced through the lists of my work in theatre and my books. I am married to Celia Hewitt the actress and bookdealer and we have two grown-up daughters. I also have two sons and a daughter by my first marriage. More and more of my time is spent writing for children. This is partly because I have six grandchildren.
Instructor, Writers Workshop, University of Iowa. (1963-67).
Granada Fellow in the Arts, University of Lancaster. (1967-69).
Fellow, Center for the Humanities, Wesleyan University. (1972).
Resident Writer, Sherman Theatre, Cardiff. (1974-75).
Visiting Writer, Billericay Comprehensive School. (1978-75).
Judith E. Wilson Fellow, Cambridge University. (1980-81).
Resident Writer, Unicorn Theatre for Children. (1982-83).
Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. 1987
Gold Medal of the Theatre of Poetry, Varna, Bulgaria.
Fellow in Drama, Nanyang University, Singapore. 1995.
Dylan Thomas Fellow, UK Year of Literature, Swansea. 1995
Honorary Doctorate, North London University. 1997.
Shadow Poet Laureate, Red Pepper Magazine, 2003.