Royal Mail unveiled five special postboxes across the U.K., honoring British authors and illustrators who helped keep children entertained during lockdown for World Book Day.
The postboxes, including a parcel postbox, have a unique design which celebrates the work of the authors and illustrators in question. They are located across the U.K. in London, Cardiff, Sheffield, Belfast and Oban, to near places of significance to either the writers or their work, and will be decorated for a month.
Each postbox is digitally activated, containing a QR code linking through to the free services offered by the author it celebrates, for example, a YouTube channel offering free online readings.
The five creators to be honored are:
- Cressida Cowell, Waterstone’s children’s laureate and author/illustrator of How To Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once. As Children’s laureate, Cowell has filmed hundreds of videos of readings, creative challenges and masterclasses for children in lockdown – all available on her YouTube channels CressidaCowellOfficial, the BookTrust HomeTime website, and Cressida Cowell’s Creativity Camp. Her postbox, lavishly decorated with Hiccup and Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon, and with gold trim, is located in Oban, Scotland, where ferries to the west coast islands are caught. Cowell spent her childhood summers on an uninhabited island off the coast of Oban, and its beautiful backdrop was the inspiration for the How To Train Your Dragon series of books – now a franchise. The postbox also features a photo of Cowell writing on that island as a nine-year-old.
- Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks, author and illustrator, What The Ladybird Heard series of books, Sharing a Shell and Princess Mirror-Belle,
- Eloise Williams, Children’s laureate Wales 2019-21, a project run by Literature Wales. From setting weekly writing challenges for children to providing workshop resources for schools, Williams has had a busy lockdown. Her postbox is inspired by her much-loved novel Gaslight, and is situated in Cardiff, where she spent much of her childhood.
- Sam McBratney, author of Guess How Much I Love You."Northern Irish writer McBratney’s book has been read online by numerous celebrities and high-profile organizations during lockdown and will remain an iconic part of British literature for generations to come. Royal Mail hopes that the postbox in Sam’s birthplace of Belfast is a fitting tribute to his legacy.
“It is without a shadow of a doubt that the U.K. is home to some of the world’s best children’s authors, and it is heart-warming to see how so many have been focused on keeping the magic of literature alive for children during lockdown,” says Mark Street, head, campaigns, Royal Mail. “As one of the guardians of the written word, Royal Mail relishes the opportunity to celebrate some of Britain’s most treasured writers during these unprecedented times, so it seems only fitting that their amazing work is honored on some of our iconic postboxes.”
“I am so flattered and delighted to be part of this project, and have a postbox decorated with characters from How to Train Your Dragon," says Cowell. “The series is inextricably linked with the astonishing beauty of the islands of the west coast of Scotland. I spent every childhood summer taking the ferry from Oban to Mull, and then on to an uninhabited island next to Staffa, where I explored the seaside wilderness, making up stories. I began writing about dragons and Vikings when I was nine years old, looking across the archipelago of islands all around me, which had been invaded by Vikings over a thousand years before, not knowing that decades later 'How to Train Your Dragon' would not only be a book series, but also films and TV. I will always be grateful for the unique landscape of the islands of this area of Scotland. Their beauty, history and character are woven into my life and work. I use my example to encourage children to use our natural world as inspiration, and to tell them that their creativity is valuable, however old they are. Thank you to the Royal Mail and World Book Day for this honor.”
“It’s wonderful that children and families have felt the benefit of shared reading during the lockdowns thanks to many authors and illustrators,” says Cassie Chadderton, chief executive officer, World Book Day. “World Book Day aims to that ensure children from all backgrounds can benefit from the improved life chances reading for pleasure offers. The challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic mean this mission is now more important than ever, and we’re delighted to team up with Royal Mail to the amazing contribution these authors have made.”
"I am really looking forward to seeing the finished postbox – what a great idea,” says Donaldson. “I hope it brings some cheer to families in Sheffield.
The exact address of each postbox is as follows:
- Nathan Bryon & Dapo Adeola (Shepherd’s Bush, London): Uxbridge Road, W12 8LH
- Cressida Cowell (Oban, Scotland): Argyll Street, PA34 5SG
- Julia Donaldson & Lydia Monks (Sheffield): Clarkehouse Road, S10 2LD
- Eloise Williams (Cardiff): St. John Street, CF10 1GN
- Sam McBratney (Belfast) Donegal Square West, BT1 6JA