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Who is Cornelia Funke?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2014
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Cornelia Funke is by many counts one of the most talented writers of children’s literature currently. Though she hasn’t yet approached the popularity of J.K. Rowling, several of her works are considered nearly on par with the Harry Potter series, and sometimes she has been referred to as the German answer to J.K. Rowling. Gifted at writing and illustrating books in the fantasy genre, Funke became even better known to American audiences in 2008 with the release of the film, Inkheart based on one of her most popular series.

Cornelia Funke was born in 10 December 1958 in West Germany and after graduating college, took up a career in social work. After briefly working as an illustrator, she began to create her own works, with her two series of books called Ghosthunters and Wild Chicks. While these books were popular in her native country, it was her 1996 novel Dragon Rider which drew her international notice when several years later.

Dragon Rider was followed by the successful work The Thief Lord. Both novels spent time on the New York Times Bestseller list. Subsequent novels included the three volume Inkheart series, Inkheart, Inkspell and Inkdeath. More recent works include Igraine the Brave.

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Fan’s of the works of Cornelia Funke enjoy visiting her website, where her own biography is less full on details than inspiration. She states one reason for writing books was that she wanted to write works she would have fun illustrating. She also notes a lifelong interest in education and confesses an addiction to both books and films.

Funke’s work can definitely be considered a boon to children’s literature, and she has received numerous acknowledgments and awards for her books. These include a 2004 award for Inkspell as a Book Sense Children’s Literature Award, and the Rosawitha Prize, the oldest and one of the most esteemed German literature awards. The Rosawitha Prize is awarded exclusively to exceptional female authors.

Many of the stories of Cornelia Funke feature very intelligent children with a great love of reading. Some have traced her style, which feels somewhat different from traditional American and UK children’s literature to the German gothic tradition. She also often places children in situations where they must frequently care for themselves and possess extraordinary know-how and wit.

Though Cornelia Funke grew up in Germany, she, her two children and her husband Rolf relocated to the US in 2005. Sadly Rolf passed away in 2006. On her website, Funke describes their Los Angeles household, which she shares with a female turtle named Hercules and a “crazy” dog named Luna. English speakers may be interested in pronouncing her name correctly. It should be said “Foon-ka” instead of pronounced like the English word “funk.”

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