John Townsend

Children's author, Young adults' author, Poet, Scriptwriter

Available for:
After dinner speaking



Special Educational Needs Resource of the Year - ERA Award Winner for Dockside with Rising Stars. Novels shortlisted for various UK library awards.

Adults, 5-7 (Key stage 1), 8-11 (Key stage 2), 5-11 (Key stages 1 and 2), 11-13 (Key stage 3), 11-16 (Key stages 3 and 4)



In a previous existence I ran a High School Special Needs department, before throwing in the chalk to become a full-time writer to publish more children’s fiction and non-fiction, including my ‘Painful Histories’ in grossly glorious colour and, more recently, over 10 different titles in my 'Truly Foul Facts & Cheesy Jokes' series.  I write all kinds of bizarre non-fiction with revolting pictures, as well as plays, comic verse and stories. The Literacy Trust has included me among their Author Reading Champions for promoting literacy among boys in particular.

It’s great to visit schools, libraries and prisons (often not much difference) to encourage interest in books and to get the world reading – as well as writing. Being a speaker at many a writers’ conference, I enjoy trying to fire-up other writers and

I’ve even dabbled in the shady world of LIBRARIAN conferences. You can’t get scarier than that!


Apart from writing for educational journals, many all-singing & dancing school plays, and for professional theatre, I've performed story-telling and writing residencies, including in a primary school tree-house among squirrels and rising damp.


With school visits, I’m flexible to fit in with requirements of each establishment. From small groups in poky cubby-holes to vast crowds in huge auditoria, I’ve done them all. A presentation usually lasts about an hour to fit in with the average lesson time. This covers introducing a range of genres to whet appetites and promote interest in books, stories, reading and libraries. For more extended content, activities and writing workshops (KS2/3), longer sessions are the norm.

My requirements are simply a few tables for display, a glass of water and a splash of enthusiasm.




  • To explore different writing genres. With ongoing concerns about engaging some boys with books and literacy, the message from this presentation is very much that Reading Is Cool. An enjoyment of storytelling can prompt an interest in untried titles and hopefully ‘Switch On the Switched-Off’ as well as entertain more avid readers. We tick the 'speaking and listening' box with gusto!
  • To enable pupils to think about what goes into making a book. Where does a writer get ideas and what happens to them? A quick guide - from initial research to the printed book, with a demonstration via role-play of the publishing process.
  • To have fun with words, ideas and plenty of books!

Presentations feature plenty of audience participation, funny stories, poems, props & gizmos, accents & voices, with confessions on ‘what they didn’t let me publish’ - with many opportunities to ask questions.


KS2/KS3 presentations/workshops:    

Crazy Creatures …  making 'Deadly Sixty' look like a walk in the park.

Yucky Yarns to Make You Squirm – on the weird, wacky and wonderful.

Murder in the Library - CSI secrets revealed behind the 'whodunnit shelf' (and in the librarian's cupboard)

The Science of Fear - be prepared to meet your phobias

You Couldn't Make It Up  (Fact or Fiction? When truth is stranger than fiction. Workshops on storywriting & non-fiction)

Beastly Science - when animals inspire the coolest science

Townsend's TOP 10 CRAZIEST SCIENTISTS of all time!

Townsend's Mysteries - THE UNEXPLAINED (with writing workshops)


"On Tuesday John Townsend came in and talked to us about Science and Medicine. It was really good - he did very good accents and has written loads of very good books." Joe S, Rayleigh Essex


We wanted him to stay as author in residence. He was brilliant, engaging and really used his books to entice the boys we were working with into books, reading and libraries. He adapted and was flexible in his delivery with all the groups he met, but always maintained his sense of fun with facts, books and readings. Fantastic fun. (Children and Young People's Services Manager, Newport Central Library)


All over! I live in Devon so can reach most places in the south west for a 9.00am start but further afield will require an overnight stay.



Half day: £175      (plus expenses)

Full day:  £300     (plus expenses)

NB some schools club together to share costs and get extra value!


I have written over 250 books (150 on Accelerated Reader) including:
Terror of the Swamp (isbn:9781781277195)
Where fact and fiction meet in the scary African swamp
View in Amazon
Truly Foul Facts and Cheesy Jokes: SCIENCE (isbn:9781912006731)
One title in a wacky series of gross facts and funny quips
View in Amazon
Journey Into The Earth (Geography Quest) (isbn:9781784930097)
An urgent phone call comes in, it's Doctor Ludmila Popplecracker, the famous volcanologist. You have a scary mission... if you dare!
View in Amazon
Dead in the Water (isbn:9781781279465)
Watch out for sharks... to say nothing of a megalodon!
View in Amazon
Amazing Predators (isbn:1406241210)
A series of books on Animal Superpowers: Superheroes & Supervillains
View in Amazon
Never Odd Or Even (isbn:178127102X)
A whodunnit with a difference - a very unusual detective story
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TICKLING with WORDS (isbn:9781912006656)
Creatures, Teachers & Cheesy Queasy Features (a romp of rhythm & rhyme)
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The Stone Balancer (isbn:9781785913624)
A murder mystery
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Operation Code Cracker (isbn:9781472906816)
Code-loving Max is unexpectedly recruited to spy on his friend's uncle, a suspected terrorist. But nothing is quite as it seems in this new world of espionage, double-crosses, kidnaps and car chases.
View in Amazon
THE SECRET MESSAGE (isbn:9781781272756)
A story to mark the centenary of World War 1
View in Amazon
Society of Authors
Children's Writers & Illustrators Group

Other search criteria:

Crime/Thrillers, Geography and Travel, History and Biography, Horror, Humour, Poetry, Science and Technology

Book Type:
Non fiction for children, Fiction for children (any age), Fiction 8-13, Young Adult, Educational books

fiction, non-fiction, history, adventure, mysteries, out there, incredible creatures, Barney, crime, medicine, survive, science, plays, dyslexia, animals, literacy