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Christopher Awdry is the son of the Rev. W. Awdry, author of the Railway Series of books featuring Thomas the Tank Engine. Christopher was born at Devizes, the family moving to Kings Norton, Birmingham, when he was aged five months.
Christopher Awdry is in many ways the inspiration for the books about Thomas and his engine friends. The characters began life as a story told to him by his father, Wilbert, when a young Christopher was confined to bed with a bout of measles. Wilbert entertained him with a story about a little engine called Edward who was sad.
Christopher loved to hear the story of Edward – and eventually his father wrote it down and illustrated it with simple line drawings. Stories about Gordon and Henry followed, and his mother Margaret encouraged Wilbert to send them to a publisher.
The Three Railway Engines was successfully published by Edmund Ward in 1945, and the following year the most famous of all Wilbert Awdry's engine characters appeared in Thomas the Tank Engine. From James the Red Engine in 1948, Awdry published a new Railway Series title every year until his last book, Tramway Engines, in 1972.
In 1984 Britt Allcroft produced the hit television series Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, which captured the imagination of a new audience of young railway fans. The first series aired in October 1984, which proved timely for Christopher Awdry, as publishers Kaye & Ward agreed to print further stories that Christopher had written based on his own railway research.
By the time of his father's death in 1997, Christopher had added a further 14 books to the Railway Series, bringing the total number at that time to 40.