What Alice discovered;Children's books;Arts;Interview;Patricia Crampton

29th January 1999 at 00:00
It's been an honour to work on such a fine book," says Patricia Crampton (pictured right), who collects the 1999 Marsh Award in her 40th year as a freelance translator. She was impressed by the "spare but unsparing language" of The Final Journey. "You could scarcely find a more objective and necessary account of such terrible times."

Mrs Crampton was one of the first non-Germans to hear about the atrocities that Pausewang describes; her first job after Oxford University was as a translator at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.

"When I flew out, my mother said, 'You will come straight home if it's nasty, won't you darling?'. As I've grown older the experience means more than it did then. When I came back it was very hard to persuade anyone to listen to me. My feeling was very much that it could have happened here. My husband witnessed round-ups when he visited Germany in his teens before the war - his aunt married a German Jew - but they got out in time."

Mrs Crampton later worked in industry and for NATO in Westminster before going freelance. She has translated more than 200 children's books and more than 50 adult novels, mostly from German, Dutch and Scandinavian languages. She is a long-standing member of IBBY, the international children's books organisation.

Recent children's publishing projects include Pausewang's last novel, Fall-out, and another book on the shortlist, Els de Groen's No Roof in Bosnia. Her work in progress is a book for adults - the translation from Swedish of Back to Life, the memoirs of Hedi Fried, a Romanian Jew who survived Bergen-Belsen.

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