Cynthia Harnett (22 June 1893 – 25 October 1981) was an English author and illustrator, mainly of children's books. She is best known for six historical novels that feature ordinary teenage children involved in events of national significance, four of them in the 15th century. They are characterised by meticulous background research and vivid evocation of history.
For one of them, The Wool-Pack (1951), she won the Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's best children's book by a British subject. Another, The Load of Unicorn (1959), was a commended runner-up for the Carnegie Medal.[a]
Cynthia Harnett was born in London and studied at Chelsea School of Art. She illustrated the early editions of several of her own novels, but she also collaborated more than a dozen times with the painter and etcher George Vernon Stokes (1873–1954). Several of their books about dogs, the countryside or both credit Stokes and Harnett as co-authors.
These six books were published by Methuen and the first five were illustrated by Harnett.
In the U.S. these six books were first published as The Great House (1968), Nicholas and the Wool-Pack (1953), The Drawbridge Gate (1953), Stars of Fortune (1956), Caxton's Challenge (1960), and The Writing on the Hearth (1973). At least three were re-titled again in the 1980s.
- Since 1995 there are usually eight books on the Carnegie shortlist. According to CCSU some runners-up were Commended (from 1954) or Highly Commended (from 1966). There were about 160 commendations of both kinds in the 49 years to 2002, including five for 1959.
- "Harnett, Cynthia". Bridget Carrington. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. Jack Zipes, ed. Oxford University Press. 2006. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
- "Harnett, Cynthia". The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Dinah Birch, ed. Oxford University Press. 2009. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
- (Carnegie Winner 1951). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 16 August 2012.
- "Carnegie Medal Award". 2007(?). Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 21 August 2012.
- WorldCat identities: Harnett, C. M.; Harnett, Cynthia; Stokes, George Vernon; Stokes, Vernon. Retrieved 17 November 2012.