Alan Garner called his grandmother Mrs E Paminondas on account of the story she would tell schoolchildren during the air-raid drills about a boy called E Paminondas who ‘never did have the sense’ he was born with. Born in 1934, Garner has lived within walking distance of Alderley Edge, fifteen miles south of Manchester, all of his life, and he certainly did have the sense. Later, when consulting his 1910 edition of The Children’s Encyclopedia, the young Garner came across an entry on the ancient Greek general Epaminondas. The first in his family to attend university, he read classics at Oxford but left without taking a degree, returning to his home county to write what is now regarded as a children’s fantasy classic, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, at the age of twenty-two.
In Where Shall We Run To? Garner recounts stories of his childhood landscape during the early part of the Second World War. These were formative years for this sensitive, mischievous, naive, precocious boy. The book runs at an easy pace; chapters are structured around various mishaps and achievements, such as