Having worked for many years as a school science technician and a quality control manager, Elizabeth Arnold came to write The Parsley Parcel
, her first novel, out of a love of folklore, and originally with adults in mind rather than children. Set among Gypsies in the New Forest
The New Forest is an area of southern England which includes the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pasture land, heathland and forest in the heavily-populated south east of England. It covers south-west Hampshire and extends into south-east Wiltshire....
, it was shortlisted for the Beefeater (Whitbread) Children's Book Award
The Costa Book Awards are a series of literary awards given to books by authors based in Great Britain and Ireland. They were known as the Whitbread Book Awards until 2005, after which Costa Coffee, a subsidiary of Whitbread, took over sponsorship....
in 1995, appeared in paperback in 1996, and was reissued in 1998. An audio version read by Nerys Hughes
Nerys Hughes , is a Welsh actress, known primarily for her television roles.Nerys Hughes was born in Rhyl, . She studied drama at Rose Bruford College. She is best known for the role of Sandra Hutchinson in the enormously successful BBC TV series The Liver Birds which ran from 1969 to 1978 with a...
also appeared in 1998, and it formed the basis for the seven-part Gypsy Girl
Gypsy Girl was a TV series that ran on CITV in early 2001, based on the books The Parsley Parcel and Gold and Silver Water by Elizabeth Arnold. It centred around a gypsy girl and her family, who lived in a typical gypsy caravan on the corner of a typical suburban street. Her great-grandmother was...
ITV series in 2001. The main character is Freya, a Romany girl with benign magic powers, played on TV by Gemma Gregory, with Eleanor Bron
Eleanor Bron is an English stage, film and television actress and author.-Early life and family:Bron was born in 1938 in Stanmore, Middlesex, to a Jewish family of Eastern European origin...
as her great-grandmother. The Freya or Gypsy Girl Trilogy was completed with Gold and Silver Water
, and A Riot of Red Ribbons
Arnold has written about how she came to name her character: "Freya was a Romany child, and in ancient Romany culture a child had three names. A formal name; a pet or nickname, and a secret name. The secret name is whispered by a mother to her child only twice; at the moment of birth and once more when the child is old enough to remember.... I chose Freya as my heroine’s formal name. Freya, named after the goddess Freya born on Friday. This was important because in The Parsley Parcel
, special magic would be worked on Good Friday. Her pet name was Chime. Why? Because she was a Chime-Child, a gypsy girl born with special powers to work special enchantments. Her secret name? It’s a secret, of course, that she and I will share forever."
Other chapter books by Elizabeth Arnold have included The Gold-Spectre
, and Spin of the Sunwheel
, which was nominated for the Carnegie Medal
The Carnegie Medal is a literary award established in 1936 in honour of Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and given annually to an outstanding book for children and young adults. It is awarded by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals...
in 1999. Scraggy Flies High
, and The Triple Trouble Gang
are storybooks for younger children. She has also edited a book of children's stories written by children.
Elizabeth Arnold has two grownup children and four grandchildren: two girls and two boys.
She was born in Leicester
Leicester is a city and unitary authority in the East Midlands of England, and the county town of Leicestershire. The city lies on the River Soar and at the edge of the National Forest...
, where her grandparents lived. Her family moved several times during her childhood. She was the eldest of five sisters, including triplets. Having left school at 15, she later took a City and Guilds
The City and Guilds of London Institute is a leading United Kingdom vocational education organisation. City & Guilds offers more than 500 qualifications over the whole range of industry sectors through 8500 colleges and training providers in 81 countries worldwide...
course for science technicians, and eventually gained an Open University
The Open University is a distance learning and research university founded by Royal Charter in the United Kingdom...
degree in science and technology. She now lives with her husband in Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...
and enjoys walking in the nearby New Forest.