Paul Dowswell - Author Picture

Paul Dowswell - Author

Paul Dowswell cemented his position as one-to-watch in the world of children’s historical fiction with his much-acclaimed WWII novel, Ausländer. Throughout all of his fiction, Paul weaves meticulous research into thrilling narrative that will engage young readers.

A former senior editor with Usborne Publishing, Paul Dowswell is now a full-time author. He has written many non-fiction titles, two of which were shortlisted for the Blue Peter Book Award. Powder Monkey, his first novel, was published to huge critical acclaim. Ausländer was shortlisted for the Booktrust Teenage Prize and the Red House Children’s Book Award. He currently lives in Wolverhampton with his family.

Paul on his inspiration for Cabinet of Curiosities:

The Cabinet of Curiosities is set in 16th Century Prague, during the reign of Rudolph II. Lukas Declercq, fleeing the Inquisition in his native Ghent, arrives in the city in 1598 to be apprentice to his Uncle, court physician Anselmus Declercq.

Seeking company away from the staid confines of the castle, Lukas is drawn to the excitement of the city’s darker side. He becomes an unwitting pawn in the battle to control what people are permitted to say and think. (Here the story shares some ground with my previous book Ausländer about a teenager in Berlin during the Second World War.) Ultimately, Lukas learns how to make his own choices between
right and wrong, and that the answer is rarely clear-cut.

The idea behind the story was inspired by Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s fruit ’n’ veg portrait Vertumnus, of Rudolph II. A culture which produced something so magnificently strange and original sparked further investigation.

I visited Prague and the Castle whilst researching the book. Woodcuts and engravings from the era show that much of the city remains from Rudolph’s time. The contents of his Cabinet of Curiosities – an extraordinary collection of mechanical and scientific instruments, specimens, paintings, and relics – are well documented. Four huge rooms contained everything from astrolabes and orrerys to Dürer’s famous watercolour of a young hare, and, supposedly, nails from Noah’s Ark and feathers from a phoenix. Much of the Cabinet was scattered to the four corners of Europe when the Castle was looted by Swedish Troops in 1648 during the 30 Years War. A fraction remains in Prague. The rest can be found in museums and art galleries around the world.

Rudolph was plagued throughout his life by severe depression – all the more reason to admire his open mindedness, tolerance, and passion for art and science. In a Europe haunted by the Inquisition, his Prague was an oasis of free-thinking where Catholics, Protestants and Jews lived side by side. Here, natural philosophers could investigate and share their knowledge of the newly-emerging sciences without fear of being executed as heretics. This was an age, after all, where an astronomer could be burned at the stake for stating that the Sun was at the centre of the Solar System rather than the Earth. In his patronage of alchemy and fascination with the world, Rudolph was an early champion of the Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century.

Photo credit David Rann

Featured Books, with extracts, by Paul Dowswell

Reader ReviewedWave
Paul Dowswell
July 2016 Book of the Month | Interest Age Teen Reading Age 8 World War One didn't just affect those involved in the fighting but those left at home, and subsequent generations too as this novel shows. Charlie joins up,...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 13+ readers | YA readers
Format: Paperback | Released 15/06/2016
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Book of War Stories
Paul Dowswell - illustrated by Ian McNee
Even as the First and Second World Wars get further away in history, they remain a subject of fascination for the young, and no wonder: the conflict brought out very best and the very worst in mankind. Paul Dowswell recounts...
Lovereading Price: £7.99 - Saving £2.00 (20%) Featured in: 7+ readers | 9+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 01/08/2015
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Bomber
Paul Dowswell
Julia Eccleshare's Pick of the Month May 2015 Young New York born US serviceman Harry Friedman signs up for the United States Army Air Force determined to fight for justice for fellow Jews. Still only 17 he is soon a...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers | 13+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 07/05/2015
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Write Your Own Adventure Stories
Paul Dowswell - illustrated by Paul Hoppe
Kids who enjoy writing will find lots of practical and inspiring ideas in this excellent book, while those whose hearts sink at being asked to write a story will see just how much fun it can be. There are pages...
Lovereading Price: £7.19 - Saving £1.80 (20%) Featured in: 7+ readers | 9+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 01/05/2015
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The Second World War
Paul Dowswell - illustrated by Ian McNee
Epic encounters between titanic warships, battles involving thousands of men, and duels between lone snipers facing almost certain death are just some of the dramatic tales in this gripping collection of stories from the Second World War. This is one...
Lovereading Price: £4.79 - Saving £1.20 (20%) Featured in: 7+ readers | 9+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 01/05/2014
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The Story of the First World War
Paul Dowswell - illustrated by Ian McNee
An excellent introductory history of the First World War told in short, accessible chapters, this describes some of the key moments of the conflict and some of the reasons why it was so much more devastating than had been anticipated....
Lovereading Price: £7.19 - Saving £1.80 (20%) Featured in: 9+ readers | 11+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 01/01/2014
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Eleven Eleven
Paul Dowswell
A powerful combination of historic detail, timeless narrative and action-packed plot. The author places three teenagers, one American, one British and the other German at the centre of the story in the lead up to the 11th day of the...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers | 13+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 11/10/2012
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Sektion 20
Paul Dowswell
There's genuine terror at the heart of this gripping political thriller. Life in East Berlin is fraught with tension: the Stasi are everywhere and you have to watch you words to stay safe. Teenager Alex knows all of that and...
Lovereading Price: £6.39 - Saving £1.60 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers | 13+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 05/09/2011
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Pirate Attack
Paul Dowswell
Interest age 11+ Reading age 8+. A thrilling adventure based on a real possibility. Joe eagerly accepts an invitation to what should be the holiday of a lifetime. But, from the first moment of arriving on the boat, thinks start...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 19/08/2011
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The Cabinet of Curiosities
Paul Dowswell
A powerful historical drama full of political intrigue and rich in the trickery of alchemy, this is a fascinating and original story about one boy's role in saving a great kingdom. Orphaned Lukas is summoned to Prague by his uncle,...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £1.40 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 07/02/2011
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The Cabinet of Curiosities
Paul Dowswell
Intrigue and mystery lie at the heart of this story set long ago in Prague at the time of Rudolph 11. Lukas is summoned to the palace to be apprenticed to the physician of the Holy Roman Emperor. Following a...
Lovereading Price: £8.79 - Saving £2.20 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers
Format: Hardback | Released 05/07/2010
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Auslander
Paul Dowswell
Shortlisted for the prestigious Teenage Book of the Year Award 2009. A tense and dramatic story of growing up in Berlin during World War Two. When Piotr's parents are killed he is taking to an orphanage in Warsaw. But Piotr...
Lovereading Price: £6.39 - Saving £1.60 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers | 13+ readers
Format: Hardback | Released 04/01/2010
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Auslander
Paul Dowswell
Shortlisted for the prestigious Teenage Book of the Year Award 2009. Shortlisted for the Independent Booksellers' Book Prize 2010. A tense and dramatic story of growing up in Berlin during World War Two. When Piotr's parents are killed he...
Lovereading Price: £5.59 - Saving £2.40 (30%) Featured in: 11+ readers | 13+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 04/01/2010
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The First World War
Paul Dowswell
In the Usborne True Stories series, this is a clear introduction to the First World War. In well thought out chapters Paul Dowswell tells the story from the fateful moment in August 1914 when the first declarations of war were...
Lovereading Price: £3.99 - Saving £1.00 (20%) Featured in: 11+ readers | 7+ readers | 9+ readers
Format: Paperback | Released 27/07/2007
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Author Info

Author's Website

www.pauldowswell.co.uk/

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