UCL Alumni


UCL alumnus named as new Children’s Laureate

7 July 2022

Joseph Coelho (BA Archaeology 2002) has been named as Britain’s new Children’s Laureate 2022-2024.

Image of Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2022 and UCL alumnus Joseph Coelho

Joseph Coelho is a poet and storyteller who has published poetry books, novels, pictures books and non-fiction books. His work includes the three-part series of twisted classics “Fairytales gone bad”, the “Luna loves...” series and poetry collections including “Werewolf Club Rules” and “Overheard in a tower block”.  

Coelho studied archaeology at UCL, graduating in 2002, and has written about how during his time here he felt ‘the arts were opening something up inside of me’. 

Writing in a piece for Waterstones, who sponsor the laureateship, Coelho said: “Whilst studying archaeology at UCL, I found myself spending just as much time with the Student Drama Society and at the London Poetry Society Cafe as I did in lectures. Don't get me wrong, I loved my degree, but the arts were opening something up inside me that I did not know was there. A desire to create and to share.” 

While studying, Coelho also had a job at the British Library, further deepening the love of libraries he had developed at a young age. He has made libraries the focus of one of his laureateship goals, with a plan to complete his ‘Library Marathon’ and to join a library in every local authority in the country, to encourage people to register with their local library and to highlight the vital role libraries play in inspiring a love of reading in young people. He has already registered in 140, with 70 more local authorities to go.   

His other laureateship goals include his ‘Bookmaker like you’ project, which will showcase a diversity of new talent within the book industry so that every child can see themselves as a bookmaker. ‘Poetry Prompts’ is designed to celebrate the power of poetry in all its forms and showing the joy that writing, reading and performing poetry can bring.  

Coelho is the second UCL alumnus to be named as the Children’s Laureate. Quentin Blake (PGCE English, 1957) was the inaugural Children's Laureate in 1999-2001.  

The post of Children’s Laureate was launched in 1999, created by the then Poet Laureate Ted Hughes and the children’s author Michael Morpugo. The Children’s Laureate is selected by a panel made up of librarians, critics, writers, literature development workers and booksellers. The role is awarded to an outstanding children’s author or illustrator with a passion for fostering a new generation of writers, artists and readers. As well as being a celebration of exceptional writing, the laureateship is a vital spearhead, advocating for children’s fundamental rights to read, write and access books through bookshops and libraries.  

Further information: 

Image: www.thepoetryofjosephcoelho.com