Ann Downer

Ann Downer

Ann Downer (born November 28, 1960 in Arlington, Virginia) is an American writer, principally of fantasy novels for children and young adults, as well as more mainstream short fiction and poetry. She published one young-adult fantasy trilogy in the late 1980s and early 1990s ("The Spellkey", "The Glass Salamander", and "The Books of the Keepers"), collected in a revised edition in 1995 as "The Spellkey Trilogy". A second series for middle-grade readers, begun in 2003 with the novel "Hatching Magic", continues with "The Dragon of Never-Was" (2006). The Spellkey series is high fantasy, taking place wholly in an invented world and chronicling a classic good-versus-evil story of two foundlings, a stableboy and an ostracized seer. "Hatching Magic" and its sequel, "The Dragon of Never-Was", are contemporary fantasies with elements of time travel. Frequently cited on “What to read while you wait for the next Harry Potter” lists, the series follows a young girl, Theodora Oglethorpe, as she discovers a world of wizardry and magic very different from the world of Hogwarts. While Downer’s books are frequently compared to the work of Patricia A. McKillip and Diana Wynne Jones, she has cited the influence of Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea books and the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander in shaping her outlook and prose style.


Downer grew up in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., and lived with her family in Southeast Asia between 1967 and 1972, when her father, a Foreign Service officer, was posted first to Manila and then to Bangkok. While attending Smith College, she interned in the Hampshire Typothetae letterpress of Barry Moser and had a part-time job in the college's rare book room, leading to an interest in typography and rare books that can be traced to details of her book's plots (see Fore-edge painting, miniature books, chained library). Her lifelong interest in natural history led to a job in 1994 at Harvard University Press, where she is a science editor.

Downer is married to Edward L. Hazell, an editor and writer of jazz criticism. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.



Spellkey series
*"The Spellkey" (1987), jacket by Caldecott-medal winner David Wiesner, also a UK paperback edition from Futura/Macmillan.
*"The Glass Salamander" (1989), jacket by Caldecott-medal winner David Wiesner
*"The Books of the Keepers" (1993)

All three books were collected into a paperback omnibus edition, "The Spellkey Trilogy", published by Baen Books in 1995.

Hatching Magic series U.S. edition jackets by Omar Rayyan
*"Hatching Magic" (2003; Scholastic Book Club selection; translated into German, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Thai, and Spanish; additional languages pending)
*"The Dragon of Never-Was" (2006)

Other Fiction
*“Somnus’s Fair Maid” (short-listed for the James Tiptree Jr. prize), a Regency retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, in "Black Thorn, White Rose", edited by Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow
*Short stories and poetry in Gargoyle Magazine in the late 1980s, including excerpts from an unpublished novel.
*“Bread-and-Butterflies” in "Alice Redux" (2006), a collection of short fiction inspired by Lewis Carroll and edited by Richard Peabody.

Works about Ann Downer

There is an entry on Downer in "Something about the Author" (Gale Publishing).

In the early 1990s, Downer was a member of a writing group that included the writers Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, Greer Gilman, and Pamela Summa. Interviews with the members can be found in Ringel, Faye, "Current Medievalist Writing Groups: Worlds Shared and Unshared." "The Year's Work in Medievalism" 6 (1991). Ed. Michael Rewa. Holland, Michigan, 1997.

External links

* [ Ann Downer official website]
* [ Bibliography on]
*isfdb name|id=Ann_Downer|name=Ann Downer

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