Anti-health and safety English and Drama teacher Andy Mulligan has won The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize for his novel Return to Ribblestrop. Andy Mulligan was brought up in South London, and educated at Oxford University. He worked as a theatre director for ten years before travels in Asia prompted him to re-train as a teacher. He has taught English and drama in India, Brazil, the Philippines and the UK at Truro School. He now divides his time between London and Manila.
Andy Mulligan says "The Ribblestrop books certainly play with danger, and I've relished their unpredictable political-incorrectness. I've enjoyed playing against the cotton wool-wrapping health and safety executives that have somehow paralysed schools and prevented children playing. Every teacher now knows that an accident is some adult's fault. Conkers take eyes out and sports day are accidents waiting to happen. So, yes, it has been a joy allowing my characters to saw through high-voltage mains cables with chainsaws, drink rum through the winter cold and bond through adversity. In Return to Ribblestrop they literally ride tigers, and the authority that intrudes is represented by a dodgy police-officer and a murderous alcoholic priest (de-frocked, Irish and constantly cursing). I wrote Return to Ribblestrop firmly convinced that nobody would get it, so the thought that people have, and that people regard it as good, is a little bit overwhelming. I never expected the Guardian to award such a stonker of a prize to a book that is dangerous, violent, irreverent, politically incorrect, joyously sentimental, anti-adult, pro-child and sometimes bizarre - but I'm very glad they have."