Robert Atkinson Westall was a British author, teacher and journalist best known for his children's fiction, although he also wrote non-fiction and wrote specifically for adults. Many of his novels aimed at a teenage audience deal with complex, dark and adult themes. He has been described as "the dean of British war novelists".
His first book, The Machine Gunners won the 1975 Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognising the year's outstanding children's book by a British subject. It was named one of the top ten Medal-winning works for the 70th anniversary celebration in 2007, selected by a panel to compose the ballot for a public election of the all-time favourite. Westall also won a second Carnegie, a Smarties Prize, and the once-in-a-lifetime Guardian Prize.