One of the most celebrated children's authors of the twentieth century, the Reverend Wilbert Vere Awdry O.B.E. was born in 1911 in Hampshire, England. His interest in railways began as a child when, living in Wiltshire, England, he found himself within sight and sound of the Great Western Railway line between Paddington and Bristol. Wilbert used to lie in bed at night, listening to the trains and imagining that the engines were talking to each other. He invented characters for them all.
Ordained in 1936, Wilbert Awdry served in a number of parishes for nearly thirty years until the popularity of the Railway Series enabled him to go into "private practice" and concentrate on his writing and research.
In 1972, Tramway Engines became the twenty-sixth and last book in the series to bear the credit, The Rev. W. Awdry. The "Puff-Puff Parson," as he was affectionately known, had gone into semi-retirement. He continued, nevertheless, to make regular public appearances for many years to come as well as attending to the voluminous correspondence he received from Thomas fans the world over.
After a period of prolonged illness, Wilbert Awdry died peacefully on March 21, 1997, aged 85, at his home in Gloucestershire, England.
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Random House Books for Young Readers
November 14, 1989
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