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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

The Great Revolt

The Great Revolt

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/08/2020

Thrilling historical adventure set during the English peasants' revolt of 1381, by Paul Dowswell, the author of Auslander, and Wolf Children. It's 1381 and the king, Richard II, has imposed a new tax on the people. In the village of Aylesford, Tilda and her ploughman father were already struggling to make ends meet. As serfs they have no rights to move freely or earn wages for their work. Tilda is desperate for a better life than the village can offer, so when the villagers begin to rebel she is swept up in the excitement. Tilda and her father travel to London with the others to petition the king, but the peaceful rebellion they hoped for soon ignites into violence, mayhem and treachery. Tilda's fight for a better life is only just beginning... This page-turning adventure sheds new light on a period of history which is covered in the KS3 curriculum, and will have readers gripped from start to finish.

True Stories of Heroes

True Stories of Heroes

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/11/2019

Anyone can be a hero - from a housewife turned spy, to a six-year-old schoolgirl defying racism. Read the inspiring stories of people whose incredible bravery helped them stand up for what they thought was right. This collection of true stories is part of the popular Usborne Young Reading series, ideal for newly independent readers.

True Stories Ghosts

True Stories Ghosts

Author: Paul Dowswell Format: Hardback Release Date: 27/08/2019

Is there really such a thing as a true ghost story? The strange tales in this book are all based on actual reports by people who believed they had been haunted by ghosts and poltergeists. You can make up your own mind after reading their stories... Part of the Usborne Young Reading series, ideal for newly independent readers.

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

Author Info

Author's Website

https://www.pauldowswell.co.uk/

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