3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to EDP Norfolk today click here

Children’s book: Once Upon a Time in Norfolk by Isabelle King

PUBLISHED: 15:59 19 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:59 19 March 2018

Author and storyteller Isabelle King at Norwich Castle, which is included in her latest book Once Upon a Time in Norfolk (photo: Denise Bradley)

Author and storyteller Isabelle King at Norwich Castle, which is included in her latest book Once Upon a Time in Norfolk (photo: Denise Bradley)


A scattering of silver coins lost for centuries, a grinning stone lion, and a doorknocker to the dreaded workhouse have unleashed crowds of characters from history

Isabelle King wanted to be a writer but was not sure how to start – so she set up a series of events linking established authors with people like her. This spring her second book is published and she is writer in residence at Norwich Millennium Library.

Her latest collection of stories for children was inspired by Norfolk museums and the treasures they house. Once Upon a Time in Norfolk includes a story of Boudicca’s Britain and silver coins in Lynn Museum and another where a comic-looking carved lion from Norwich Castle helps conjure Norman Norfolk. A curious kitten travels through time in Thetford’s Ancient House and the daughters of two weavers are joined by a fairy flitting through Norwich’s Strangers Hall.

“I had always wanted to write about Norfolk history,” said Isabelle. “And at one of my favourite museums, Gressenhall, I came across the Norfolk Collections Centre. It’s like a cabinet of curiosities and I thought I would love to write stories about some of these.”

Isabelle grew up in Norwich, leaving for drama school in London when she 17. She worked as an actress for several years but realised she really wanted to write.

Once Upon a Time in NorfolkOnce Upon a Time in Norfolk

“I thought, ‘How am I ever going to get the time to find out more about writing when one day I’m waitressing, the next I’m performing as a dancing house with chicken feet (that really was a role I played!)?’ So I decided to put an event together in the pub where I was waitressing, to provide insight about being a writer and the publishing industry, which would be accessible to everyone with an interest – myself included! I thought there must be a lot of people like me with full-time jobs, interested in writing as a career, and in general, who couldn’t afford to do a creative writing course.”

The events became Books Talk Back and led to Isabelle interviewing authors including Tracy Chevalier and Alexander Gordon Smith. She went on to host events at the British Library and this month a British Library exhibition of some of Quentin Blake’s classic Roald Dahl illustrations comes to Norwich, with Isabelle as official writer in residence.

“I’m very aware that my way into writing was not usual at all!” she said.

When she moved back to Norwich she brought Books Talk Back with her and, alongside a job in Waterstones, began writing and storytelling. “I’m very passionate about stories. When I’m storytelling I don’t read from a book at all,” said Isabelle. “I improvise, and the children join in. I absolutely want children to think that writing books is something they can do too.

“And I would really like to just keep writing books until someone stops me and won’t let me do it anymore!”

Quentin Blake: The Roald Dahl Centenary Portraits runs from March 6 until June at the Millennium Library in Norwich Forum, with 10 new paintings of famous Dahl characters. Every Sunday from April 8 to May 27, writer in residence, Isabelle King, will run family trails, where participants can piece together clues to solve a historical mystery.

Once Upon a Time in Norfolk, by Isabelle King, illustrated by John McKeever, will be launched at Norwich Millennium Library on Saturday, May 12. isabelleking.net

Author’s talk

On March 22 Isabelle’s one-time Waterstones colleague Mitch Johnson, now also a published author, will be at the Millennium Library to talk about writing for children. bookstalkback.com

More from Out & About

Tue, 13:19

Do you know your Bawdseys from your Blakeneys and your Cromers from your Covehithes? Take our quiz to test your knowledge of the Suffolk and Norfolk coast!

Read more
Monday, September 10, 2018

An ancient castle and a massive mill are two of the highlights on this walk with Norfolk Ramblers

Read more
September 2018
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Golden sands, silver darlings, candyfloss and rock, festival fun, white-knuckle thrills and a heady cocktail of sun, sea and history are just some of the great things about Yarmouth

Read more
September 2018
Thursday, August 23, 2018

Cobbled roads, rural pathways and coastal walks, Norfolk has a plethora of streets that are a pleasure to explore. Here we have collected just eight of the pretty streets in Nelson’s County

Read more
Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A lovely walk around historic Reepham, Whitwell and the Marriott’s Way path

Read more
August 2018
Friday, August 10, 2018

From sunrise to sunset, from sandcastles to surfing, from deserted dunes to dazzling arcades, Norfolk’s 90-plus miles of coastline offer wave after wave of wonder. We pick 15 fun things to do at the seaside

Read more
Monday, August 6, 2018

Beautiful boaty Blakeney, famous for its saltmarshes and seals, was once a bustling cargo port - with pirates!

Read more
August 2018
Friday, August 3, 2018

Looking for great things to do with the kids in Norfolk this summer? We have gathered some great tourist attractions that are sure to please

Read more
Monday, July 30, 2018

Norfolk Wildlife Trust ambassador Dr Ben Garrod says we all need to do our bit to protect the magical marine megafauna living off our coastline

Read more
July 2018

Lindsay Want goes on an wonderful adventure behind the closed doors of Wolterton Hall near Aylsham, to see one of Norfolk’s Palladian mansion masterpieces being loved back to life

Read more
July 2018

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Like us on Facebook

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search