'I was absolutely amazed' - Brackley great-grandmother has first book published at age 90

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A great-grandmother from Brackley has had her first illustrated children's book published at the age of 90.

Ann Steedman led a life of dancing and ballet before using her creative streak to write and illustrate a collection of children's stories, which she has compiled into a book titled My Fairyland.

The book is a collection of 15 linked short stories featuring characters with names like Trooly and Rooly, Blinks the Brownie and The Glugs embarking on a series of charming adventures.

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Prior to writing, professional dancing and teaching dance took Ann all over the country and included spells at the Royal Academy of Dance, TV and West End appearances, and tours of the UK and Ireland as part of the Oklahoma! musical.

Brackley great-grandmother Ann Steedman has published her first book at age 90.Brackley great-grandmother Ann Steedman has published her first book at age 90.
Brackley great-grandmother Ann Steedman has published her first book at age 90.

After being based in London and the West Midlands for most of her career, ill health brought Ann back to one of her childhood hometowns, Brackley, to found the Brackley Ballet School alongside her sister Monica in 1968.

Ann said: “I started dancing when I was three years old, and when I left school, I moved to London to train as a ballet dancer before going into the theatre for 13 years, doing all sorts of things, including touring the original American production of Oklahoma for three years.”

Not one to let age slow her down, Ann continued to play a role with the Brackley Ballet School for over 50 years, as well as developing her newfound passion for illustration and story-telling.

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Ann added: “I first started making children’s stories for my daughter, and then more people became interested, and one of my stories was recorded on cassette tape, which was lovely, and it did really well.

Some of the characters featured in Ann's My Fairyland book.Some of the characters featured in Ann's My Fairyland book.
Some of the characters featured in Ann's My Fairyland book.

"When my daughter became a teenager, I then started painting and writing in earnest, and I thought this is what I would love to break into. I tried all sorts of publishers and received lots of nice remarks as well as some very rude ones, but nothing very much happened.”

Following this setback, Ann all but gave up on the ambition of having work published until her close friend Joan, who has sadly since passed away, gave her a final push and motivated her not to give up.

With help from Joan and cousin-in-law Laurie, Ann sent off a copy of her work to Pegasus Publishers, who agreed to have the book published, with My Fairyland being released in February this year.

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Ann said: “The thing that bowled me over totally was when my grandson, who lives in America sent me a message congratulating me because he had seen it for sale online, and I was absolutely amazed.

“The little characters in the book came alive from the illustrations, whose movements are inspired by my background in dancing; it’s like choreography on paper.

"I am delighted that it has finally been published after all the work that has gone into it, and I hope it reaches some of my former dance pupils from over the years.”

Ann has dedicated My Fairyland to Joan and Laurie, the two friends who helped her get published and has plans to publish further children’s illustration books soon.

For more information about My Fairyland and Ann Steedman, visit https://www.annsteedman.co.uk/about-ann/

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