Awful Auntie is a children's book written by David Walliams and illustrated by Tony Ross. It is the seventh book by Walliams, a television comedian best known as an actor on the show Little Britain, and as a judge on Britain's Got Talent.

Awful Auntie
Awful Auntie Cover.jpg
First edition
AuthorDavid Walliams
IllustratorTony Ross
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
GenreChildren's fiction
PublisherHarperCollins
Publication date
26 September 2014
Media typePrint (hardcover)
Pages369
ISBN978-0-00745361-0

This book tells the story of Stella Saxby, the sole heir to Saxby Hall, who is plagued by her awful Aunt Alberta and her giant owl, who will stop at nothing to take her inheritance from her.[1][2]

PlotEdit

The book is set in December 1933. The central character is Stella Saxby, whose parents, Lord and Lady Saxby, have died in a tragic car accident. In the wake of the tragedy, Stella's Aunt Alberta launches a plot to trick Stella out of her inheritance. Also featured are Wagner (Aunt Alberta's enormous owl that was found in a war), Soot (a chimney sweep) and Gibbon (the Saxby's elderly butler who offers much comic relief).[3]

Alberta lives up to her moniker as being awful. She lacks all sympathy and morals, having chosen to fight on the German side in World War I simply because she preferred their uniforms. She has tortured and killed people and loves vicious owls. Stella rightfully fears her, and has to use all her wits to overcome the antagonism.[3]

InspirationEdit

Walliams says that actress Miriam Margolyes, known among other roles as Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films, was part of the inspiration for Aunt Alberta. The author is quick to note that he is a fan of her work and has nothing against her. He told The Daily Telegraph in an interview, "She came to see me when I was appearing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the West End [...] I don’t know her well. I just met her once and she said something rude in front of my aunt."[4]

Walliams also notes that he often writes with actors and actresses in mind, stating for example that Michael Gambon was on his mind as he wrote Mr Stink, but adding that the actor "inspired the eccentricity, not the smell".[4] The name Saxby, used in the book for the main character, was a tribute to children's illustrator Quentin Blake, whose middle name is Saxby.[5]

ReceptionEdit

The book sold over 50,000 copies in a single week after its release, and has been met with high marks from reviewers.[4] In October 2014, four weeks after its publication, Awful Auntie had become the top-selling children's book of the year.[6] In January 2015, the book was confirmed as 2014's best-selling children's book.[7]

Film adaptationEdit

On 30 March 2015, while announcing the Billionaire Boy movie, Walliams also announced a film of Awful Auntie to air during December 2016.[citation needed] However, it did not air and Walliams instead announced it is being developed for a theatrical release.[8]

Theatre adaptationEdit

On 17 March 2017, World of Walliams official page announced a theatre tour of Awful Auntie following the success of the 2016 theatre adaptation of Gangsta Granny. Adapted and directed by Neal Foster, the run started in September 2017 at the The Theatre Royal, Glasgow, and finished in January 2019 at the Bloomsbury Theatre, London, and featured Georgina Leonidas as Stella, Timothy Speyer as Aunt Alberta, Ashley Cousins as Soot, and James Endears as Gibbon.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ David Walliams, Awful Auntie overview, Author's website.
  2. ^ Harper Collins, Awful Auntie overview, Publisher's website.
  3. ^ a b Ardagh, Philip (25 September 2014). "Awful Auntie review – David Walliams's best book yet". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Walker, Tim (2 October 2014). "David Walliams: Miriam Margolyes is the real-life Awful Auntie". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  5. ^ David Walliams [@davidwalliams] (23 June 2018). "It is Sir @QuentinBlakeHQ 's middle name. I used it as a tribute to him" (Tweet). Retrieved 23 June 2018 – via Twitter.
  6. ^ "David Walliams tops children's bestsellers". BBC News Online. BBC. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  7. ^ "David Walliams led children's UK book sales in 2014". BBC News Online. BBC. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  8. ^ "David Walliams on Twitter".