Alison Prince was born in London, though her parents were both incomers to the capital – her mother Scots and her father from Yorkshire. She grew up there, living through the Blitz and the aftermath of war. She attended grammar school and won a scholarship to the Slade School of Art, though eventually completing a postgraduate course in teaching, and settling in a teaching job – Head of Art at Elliott Comprehensive in Putney – until her marriage.
As a full-time mother of three, Prince wrote art reviews and features, and then got into television scriptwriting for children. She had joined forces with another young mother to write and design a story which became the Watch With Mother series Joe. Its success led to the writing of Jackanory stories, and to the much-loved series Trumpton, first screened in 1967. A prizewinning career in writing for children of all ages followed, and Prince now has over 50 publications for children and young people to her credit. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Literature by the University of Leicester for services to children’s literature in 2005. She has also written for adults, notably biographies of Kenneth Grahame and Hans Christian Andersen, and The Necessary Goat, a collection of essays on formative thinking which had its genesis during a Fellowship in Creative Writing at Jordanhill College. In recent years she has reviewed poetry for The Herald.
Prince discovered the joys of reading poetry at a very young age, and has always been a writer of it, with two collections to her name, and many more poems published in magazines. She has twice won the Literary Review’s Grand Poetry Prize.
In a review in Chapman Magazine (No. 82, 1995), Christine De Luca welcomed Prince’s first collection Having Been in the City (1994) thus:
She writes in a lucid, accessible style … These are immensely readable poems … always she brings the reader to the heart of the experience.
A sense of being at home in and with the natural world suffuses the poetry. Mariscat Press published a second booklet, The Whifflet Train, in 2003, in which nature is perhaps not so comfortable. Richard Price (PN Review 165, 2005) found unease in the ‘undefeated wasps, defiantly unextinct wildcats, foxgloves as a symbol of faithlessness…’ which live in this collection.
Prince has lived on the Isle of Arran for some years, where she edited the Arran Voice newspaper (and now edits the online version), and where she continues to take part in local poetry readings and to play the clarinet in a local jazz band.