Paul Dowswell - Author

About the 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 by Paul Dowswell

Pirate Attack

Pirate Attack

11+ readers

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/08/2011

Interest age 11+ Reading age 8+.Joe's thrilled when Dan and his family invite him to join them on a sailing holiday in the Seychelles. But when some lost Somali pirates board the ship with AK-47s, he's the only one they don't notice - and the only one who can call for help - Thrilling adventure. Particularly suitable for dyslexic, relucatant and struggling readers.

Other books by Paul Dowswell

True Stories of Polar Adventure

True Stories of Polar Adventure

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Hardback Release Date: 22/11/2018

Guarded by frozen seas and vast fields of snow and ice, the North and South Poles are no place for humans, as the explorers who set out to unearth their secrets found out... Part of the Usborne Young Reading series, this book is ideal for newly independent readers who prefer fact to fiction. Includes links to websites to find out more.

True Stories of Everest Adventures

True Stories of Everest Adventures

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/08/2018

As the world's tallest mountain, Everest has held a special fascination for climbers. This collection of real life stories tells of the lengths to which people have gone to get to its summit, and the dangers they've experienced, in some cases ending in tragedy.

True Stories of Escape

True Stories of Escape

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Hardback Release Date: 02/02/2018

High walls, barbed wire, savage dogs and guards who shoot to kill are just some of the obstacles faced by escaping prisoners. This book tells the extraordinary tales of men who risked their lives to regain their freedom. Part of the Usborne Young Reading series, this thrilling book is ideal for newly independent readers who prefer fact to fiction.

Survival

Survival

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/02/2018

Discover amazing true survival stories of people stranded alone in the wildest places on Earth, and learn simple and useful survival techniques in this fascinating information book. With dramatic photographs, detailed diagrams and cartoon-strip stories, plus links to exciting websites with video clips and more information.

True Stories of Survival

True Stories of Survival

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/11/2017

Egyptian Echo

Egyptian Echo

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Hardback Release Date: 19/12/2016

Why DID the Egyptians build the pyramids? What do those squiggly hieroglyphics really mean? Find out in the Egyptian Echo, a fresh and lively look at Ancient Egyptian history told by way of screaming headlines and hot-under-the-collar tabloid journalism. Covering 3,000 years in 32 pages, bursting with facts and humour. Illustrations: Full colour throughout

Stone Age Sentinel

Stone Age Sentinel

Author: Paul Dowswell, Fergus Fleming Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/12/2016

Read all about The Stone Age in this accessible and amusing history book, cunningly disguised as a tabloid newspaper. Covering a mere four million years, it's packed full of facts about what Stone Age people ate, did, wore and where they lived.

Viking Invader

Viking Invader

Author: Paul Dowswell, Fergus Fleming Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/11/2016

The Vikings: axe-wielding brutes or clean-living explorers and traders? Read this issue of the Viking Invader and find out, a fresh and lively look at history written in the style of a tabloid newspaper. There's a lot more to the Vikings than you think. Discover the people behind the headlines in The Viking Invader - coming to a village near you, SOON.

The Roman Record

The Roman Record

Author: Paul Dowswell, Fergus Fleming Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/08/2016

Soak up the shocks, horrors and sensations of the greatest empire of the Ancient World. It's all in The Roman Record - a fresh and lively look at history, written and designed to look like a tabloid newspaper. 1200 years of history are covered, from Romulus and Remus to the fall of Rome.

The World Wars Bind-up

The World Wars Bind-up

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/08/2016

Medieval Messenger

Medieval Messenger

Author: Paul Dowswell, Fergus Fleming Format: Hardback Release Date: 01/07/2016

An alternative way to learn the history of the Middle Ages, this amusing book which is cunningly disguised as a tabloid newspaper. Including stories about The Black Death, The Crusades, and features such as 'What's new at the Spanish Inquisition?', 'What's on the monastery menu?' and 'How to support your favourite knight at a jousting tournament.'

Amazing History of Wizards & Witches

Amazing History of Wizards & Witches

Author: Paul Dowswell, Susan Greenwood Format: Hardback Release Date: 27/06/2016

Sort the facts from the fairy tales and trace the evolution of wizardry - from Stone Age rituals with gruesome horned gods, through to the modern day, where magicians fair and foul dominate the big screen. Learn about the barbaric witch-hunts that swept across Europe and America, when ordinary people were put to death just because they looked different or behaved oddly. Find out about the arts of the witch, from secret potion recipes to mystic animal companions, and the real-life quest for the Philosopher's Stone!

Greek Gazette

Greek Gazette

Author: Paul Dowswell, Fergus Fleming Format: Hardback Release Date: 20/06/2016

A fresh and lively look at Ancient Greek history written in the style of a tabloid newspaper. Learn about famous Greeks - including philosophers, inventors, politicians and astronomers - their achievements and influence on future civilisations.

The Story of the Second World War

The Story of the Second World War

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/08/2014

This title provides a far-reaching account of the story of the Second World War, showing how the war affected nations and people all over the world. Colour photographs and maps give an atmospheric period feel.

Red Shadow

Red Shadow

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/05/2014

Russia, 1940. Fifteen-year-old Misha's life is about to transform when his father is offered a job in Stalin's inner circle. They move into a luxurious apartment in the Kremlin, but doubts about the glorious new Russia quickly surface. Misha realises that the secret police can do whatever they like. His own mother is arrested and sent to prison, but Misha and his father daren't complain. Then as German troops advance on Moscow, the atmosphere in the Kremlin ignites. Misha and a friend find themselves at the heart of a battle against the mighty state in this powerful evocation of one of the most turbulent places and periods of the 20th century, told by a master storyteller.

Pirate Attack

Pirate Attack

11+ readers

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/08/2011

Interest age 11+ Reading age 8+.Joe's thrilled when Dan and his family invite him to join them on a sailing holiday in the Seychelles. But when some lost Somali pirates board the ship with AK-47s, he's the only one they don't notice - and the only one who can call for help - Thrilling adventure. Particularly suitable for dyslexic, relucatant and struggling readers.

Amazing World of Witches

Amazing World of Witches

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 31/08/2009

Discover the weird and wonderful world of witches and warlocks down the centuries - the facts, the myths, the folk tales and the horrifying truths. This title features over 300 colour photographs and illustrations that include medieval drawings, step-by-step instructions, maps, and cross-section of a wizard's workshop. It provides lots of magical things to make and do with 12 step-by-step projects - including making masks and costumes, carving a Halloween pumpkin, and making charms and spell-bags. It offers fact-boxes and accessible information for home reference and school projects. This is a stimulating and enjoyable reference and activity book for 8- to 12 year-olds at home and school. Seek out the practice of magic around the world and through the ages, from the spirit-worship of ancient civilizations to the spells and potions of modern-day witches. To help you find out more about this magical world, there are 12 step-by-step projects to make learning fun and challenging. Fact-boxes and accessible information make this the perfect introduction to the subject: the book is ideal for home reference and school projects. Over 300 photographs and historic illustrations include medieval drawings, astrological symbols, step-by-step instructions, fine art paintings, maps, and cut-aways of the amazing inside view of the wizard's workshop.

Auslander

Auslander

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/03/2009

When Peter's parents are killed, he is sent to an orphanage in Warsaw. Then German soldiers take him away to be measured and assessed. They decide that Peter is racially valuable. He is Volksdeutscher: of German blood. With his blond hair, blue eyes, and acceptably proportioned head, he looks just like the boy on the Hitler-Jugend poster. Someone important will want to adopt Peter. They do. Professor Kaltenbach is very pleased to welcome such a fine Aryan specimen to his household. People will be envious. But Peter is not quite the specimen they think. He is forming his own ideas about what he is seeing, what he is told. Peter doesn't want to be a Nazi, and so he is going to take a very dangerous risk. The most dangerous risk he could possibly choose to take in Berlin in 1942.

Powder Monkey The Adventures of Sam Witchall

Powder Monkey The Adventures of Sam Witchall

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/10/2008

Sam is desperate to leave his sleepy Norfolk village and see the world. He seizes the chance to join a merchant ship, but soon discovers that a life at sea is harsh and often short, especially when his ship is attacked by a French privateer. About to be boarded, they fear all is lost, but the privateers are driven off by the appearance of a Royal Navy ship. Sam's relief is short-lived. Soon after, another Navy ship sends over a press gang, and he is forced to join the frigate Miranda. War with France and Spain is raging and Sam is caught in the middle with a dangerous job as a powder monkey in the company of a brutal crew. This is an amazingly well-researched adventure giving a glimpse of one boy's incredible life at sea.

The Roman Record

The Roman Record

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 05/07/2006

Soak up the shocks, horrors and sensations of the greatest empire of the Ancient World. It's all in The Roman Record - a fresh and lively look at history, written and designed to look like a tabloid newspaper. 1200 years of history are covered, from Romulus and Remus to the fall of Rome. Wolf Boy Kills twin - then Founds City, Elephant Man in Mountain Breakout, Exploding Brain Kills Honeymoon Hun - these are just some of the stories you'll find in the Record. And don't miss the Record special features such as top tips for tourists in Rome, Senulas's Slave Spot, and Godshop - your essential guide to Rome's religions. Ages 9+

Stone Age Sentinel

Stone Age Sentinel

Author: Paul Dowswell, Fergus Fleming Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/08/2005

Newspaper Histories The Medieval Messenger

Newspaper Histories The Medieval Messenger

Author: Paul Dowswell, Fergus Fleming Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/08/2005

History Through Poetry: World War I

History Through Poetry: World War I

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 14/11/2002

This book looks at the curriculum history of World War I, through a series of poems from the time. Each poem covers a different topic such as daily wartime living, life in the trenches and attitudes towards patriotism and religion. The backgrounds to each poem and poet is given, together with an explanation of what each poem is about. Features poems by Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, W.B. Yeats, A.A. Milne, John Freeman, Rupert Brooke, August Stramm, J.C. Squire, Madeline Ida Bedford, Marc de Larreguy de Civrieux and Wilfrid Gibson.

Author Info

Author's Website

http://www.pauldowswell.co.uk/

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