Dick King-Smith was a soldier, a farmer, a family man, a primary school teacher and most memorably to his millions of fans, a best-selling children’s author.

Early Years

Dick was born Ronald Gordon King-Smith in Bitton, Gloucestershire, on 27th March 1922, the first child of Grace and Ronald King-Smith. He got his nickname of Dick as a small child . . .

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First Love

Dick met his wife, Myrle England, on Christmas Day 1936. They were both 14. Her parents had been invited to the drinks party that Dick’s parents held every Christmas morning. Dick was at a window when they were introduced, lining up the sights of his new air rifle with the trunk of an old crab-apple tree, and not too keen to have to be polite to an unknown girl . . .

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In 1941, at the age of 19, Dick enlisted as a recruit in the Grenadier Guards. He served with distinction in the Second World War, despite being admitting to being ‘frightened stiff a lot of the time’ . . .

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The Farming Years

Once he was well, Dick was keen to return to farming. He spent some time at Tytherington Farm again, and the family lived briefly in their first married home together, Tudor Cottage, Sutton Veny. They also got the first of many dachshunds, Anna. But Dick still wasn’t strong enough to be of much use on the farm . . .

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The Teaching Years

After the failure of Overscourt Farm, and with no job and no house, Dick and Myrle had to consider all sorts of ways of making a living. They even thought of becoming pub landlords . . .

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A Writer at Last

During the school summer holidays of 1976 Dick started writing a story for children. It took him three weeks to complete the first draft of The Fox Busters, a tale inspired by a brutal and daring daylight fox raid on some fine white cockerels Dick had had at Woodlands Farm twenty years earlier. The manuscript was rejected by the first two publishers Dick sent it to . . .

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Film & TV

It was in the early 1980s that Dick added yet another string to his bow by launching into a mini-career as a children’s television presenter . . .

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Awards and Honours

After his two earlier careers, farming and teaching, Dick found huge and enduring success and satisfaction later in life as a children’s author. He wrote around 130 books, which have been translated into many languages and have sold over 15 million copies worldwide.

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To find out more about Dick, take a look at his memoir, Chewing the Cud: An Unexpected Life from Farmyard to Hollywood, published by Viking, which is where all of the extracts in this section are taken from.

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