Arbuthnott, Gill 1958- (Gillian Arbuthnott)

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Arbuthnott, Gill 1958- (Gillian Arbuthnott)


Born 1958, in Edinburgh, Scotland; married; children: two. Education: Attended St Andrew's University and Southampton University.


Home—Edinburgh, Scotland. Agent—Fraser Ross Associates, 6 Wellington Place, Edinburgh EH6 7EQ, Scotland. E-mail—[email protected]


Author, 2003—. Teacher of biology at schools in Edinburgh, Scotland.



The Chaos Clock, Kelpies (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2003.

The Chaos Quest, Kelpies (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2004.

Winterbringers, Floris (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2005.


(With Shona Grant) Crazy Creatures, Barrington Stoke (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2007.

(With Mike Phillips) Mad Scientists, Barrington Stoke (Edinburgh, Scotland), 2008.

Also author of Gill Arbuthnott's Weblog.


Scottish biology teacher Gill Arbuthnott is the author of several books for children, including the fantasy novels The Chaos Clock, The Chaos Quest, and Winterbringers, as well as the two nonfiction works Crazy Creatures and Mad Scientists. "I write both fiction and nonfiction for children. My nonfiction books are popular science. This is because I passionately believe that science is fascinating," the author explained in a Scottish Book Trust Web site biography. The novels reflect her familiarity with her Scottish homeland. "I was born and brought up in Edinburgh, where I went to James Gillespie's High School, famous as the school where the author Muriel Spark was educated, and on which she based her most famous book," Arbuthnott wrote in a statement published on her Weblog. The book in question was the classic The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and, Arbuthnott declared in a Web site interview, "The book was filmed when I was at Secondary School, and some of my class mates were extras. The exteriors weren't filmed at Gillespie's, but weirdly, at the school where I teach now. The book has always seemed to me a marvellous evocation of a very particular type of Edinburgh character; one that only a native of the city could have written."

Arbutnott's first two novels are also set in Edinburgh and rely on elements of the city's history to advance their plots. "She wanted to write a book," stated a writer for the Floris Books Web site, "which brought different parts of Edinburgh's history to life." The Chaos Clock and The Chaos Quest feature two Edinburgh youngsters, Kate and David, who are drawn into a conflict between the Guardians of Time and the Lords of Chaos. The protagonists attempt to keep time from unraveling and past and present from merging disastrously. Winterbringers is set in St. Andrews, Fife, farther to the north, and deals with the quest of Josh, a young boy on summer holidays, his companion Callie, and her dog Luath to keep everlasting winter from descending on the northlands.

The Chaos Clock won international attention when its first printing of 2,000 copies quickly ran out within weeks. They were bought up, wrote a contributor to the Bookseller, largely by collectors, who hoped to capitalize on the author's potential—each of them hoping to have found the next J.K. Rowling. Soon individual signed copies of The Chaos Clock were trading on the Internet for as much as one hundred pounds sterling apiece. "I have signed so many (mainly for collectors)," Arbuthnott told an interviewer for the Wee Web Web site, "that I'm sure unsigned ones must be more valuable!"



Bookseller, February 20, 2004, "Collector's Buzz in Children's Books," p. 30.

School Librarian, spring, 2004, Elizabeth Finlayson, review of The Chaos Clock, p. 39; fall, 2006, "Winterbringers," p. 150.

ONLINE, (August 21, 2008), author interview.

Floris Books Web site, (August 21, 2008), author profile.

Scottish Book Trust Web site, (August 21, 2008), author profile.

Wee Web, (August 21, 2008), "Interview with Gill Arbuthnott."