My Hero: Helen Dunmore

Lois Rushworth

91N5JudLEkL.jpgEveryone has a favourite childhood book, and I am no different. I first discovered Ingo when I seven years old; when I went to my local library one afternoon. As cheesy at it sounds, this book shaped my love of books and literature. Whilst I had read many books before, I felt none were as long or mature as Ingo. When I first borrowed the book, my mum read it to me every night until it was finished. Therefore, I will always look back at the memories I gained from Ingo and smile; as the book represents the bond between my mum and me.

Ingo, written by Helen Dunmore, is a book about a girl named Sapphire, who discovers she has Mer(maid) heritage. Ingo is the first in the series of the Quadrilogy the Ingo Chronicles. Ingo, Tide Knot, The Deep and The Crossing of Ingo were published annually from 2005-08. I waited in anticipation each year for the next book to be published. The librarian would even contact my mum each time a new book came in (I think she got sick of me asking every time I was there). Helen Dunmore’s series introduced me into the world of mythology and fantasy. She helped me become interested in the fictional worlds of Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey, and Christopher Paolini, amongst many others. She is the reason at the age of seven, I was researching tales of mermaids; as the ones she wrote about in her books weren’t like the ones in Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Helen Dunmore helped develop my passion for literature, without her I wouldn’t have read all the canonical texts I have done. In fact, she is one of the reasons I chose to read English Literature at the University of York.

Whilst I was in year 12, I began researching English Literature degrees throughout the country. This was a large task, since a great proportion of British universities offered it as a degree. At one point throughout that year, I thought back to the Ingo series. I was intrigued to see if Dunmore had written anymore books about the world of Ingo. Interestingly, I discovered that Helen Dunmore was an English Literature alumnus of the University of York. Whilst I can’t say that I chose this university solely because of her, I can say that she inspired me to apply to the University.

Sadly, Helen Dunmore died 5th June 2017, aged 64. Throughout her career, Dunmore won prizes such as the McKittrick Prize, the Orange prize, and the T.S. Eliot Prize, and was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Dunmore’s career was highly decorated and admired by many. When I think of Dunmore I see myself as a seven-year-old girl, head stuck in a favourite book. I now sit writing this article as a 20-year-old 3rd-year Literature student, who owes a great deal to this incredible author. Thank you, Helen Dunmore, your words mean everything to me.