Ashley lives in Charlton, south east London, only a street or so
from where he was born. He was educated at the Roan School, Blackheath
and Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School, Rochester. After
National Service in the RAF Bernard trained to teach at Trent Park
College of Education, specializing in Drama. He followed this with
an Advanced Diploma at the Cambridge Institute and has been awarded honorary Doctorates in Education by the University
of Greenwich and in letters by the University of Leicester.
During his career as a teacher he worked in Kent,
Hertfordshire, Newham and Greenwich, with thirty years of headships
in the last three.
is now writing full time. His first novel, The Trouble with Donovan
Croft, was published in 1974 and won
the 'Other' Award, an alternative to the Carnegie Medal (for which
he has been shortlisted three times). Twenty-five further novels have
followed, gaining him a reputation as a 'gritty' writer in sympathy
with the under dog. In Margaret Meek's view he gets inside children's
heads, who say that this is what it's like for them.
Tiger Without Teeth Philip Pullman wrote in The Guardian:
'A commonplace setting, an everyday situation, ordinary characters.
Bernard Ashley's great gift is to turn what seems to be low-key
realism into something much stronger and more resonant. It has something
to do with empathy, compassion, an undimmed thirst for decency and
justice. In a way, Ashley is doing what ‘Play for Today’
used to do when TV was a medium that connected honestly with its
own time, and what so few artists do now: using realism in the service
of moral concern.'
Blitz (Barn Owl), drew on his wartime experiences as a child in and
around London; while Little Soldier (Orchard) sums up his writing:
a pacy plot with an emotional turning point, a theme that concerns
him, and characters that grip as real people. It was shortlisted
for the 'Guardian' young fiction prize and for the Carnegie Medal.
His latest teenage novel is Dead End Kids (Orchard), a powerful look at young people's courage under the WW2 bombs.
picture books include Double the Love (Carol Thompson illustrating)
from Orchard, Growing Good (Bloomsbury), Cleversticks, and A Present for Paul (Harper Collins). Tamarind published The Bush, illustrated
by Lynne Willey. His popular stories for young readers include Dinner
Ladies Don't Count (Puffin), Justin and the Demon Drop Kick,
Your Guess is as Good as Mine (both Ashley Chappel Productions) and Nadine Dreams of Home and Torrent (both Barrington Stoke).
work has included Running Scared (from which Bernard wrote the novel),
The Country Boy (BBC) and his adaptation of his own Dodgem which
won the Royal Television Society award as the best children's entertainment
of its year.
plays are The Old Woman Who Lived in A Cola Can (Edinburgh Festival
and tour), The Secret of Theodore Brown (Unicorn Theatre for
Children in the West End), and Little Soldier (published by Heinemann).
strong family man, Bernard is married to Iris Ashley, a former London
headteacher, and they have three sons. Their eldest, Chris,
also a headteacher, co-wrote with Bernard the TV series Three Seven
Eleven (Granada), and his "Wasim" books are published by Frances Lincoln. David is a London headteacher and an expert on children's
literacy; and Jonathan is an actor, writer and director whose writing
for theatre includes Stiffs; and who was writer and
voice director in Los Angeles and London on Primal and Ghosthunter
for Playstation 2.
and Iris have four grandchildren, Paul, Carl, Rosie and Luke.