Patricia Crampton (12 December 1925 – 1 December 2016) was a prize-winning British literary translator, including of children's literature. She studied at Oxford University and served as a translator at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. She has translated over 200 children's books and over 50 adult novels, winning many awards in the process.


Crampton was born Patricia Elizabeth Cardew Wood in Bombay on 12 December 1925. Her father, John Cardew Wood was a colonel for the Royal Engineers and his mother was Vera Marion, née Kells. Her family returned to England in 1930 and settled in Beaconsfield, where she attended Oakdene School, where she developed a flair for languages.[1] Having learned Hindi and English as a child, Crampton studied German and France at St Hugh's, Oxford between 1943 and 1946 and during her lifetime she spoke 9 languages.[2]

Upon leaving Oxford, Crampton became a translator and interpreter for the Nuremberg Trials in 1947, at the age of 22. Her role was primarily to translate documents of the Nazi doctors who conducted experiments on the wartime prisoners. She also worked on the translation and interpretation during the IG Farben Trial.[1]

Crampton would go on to be a commercial translator, travelling to around the world and working for clients such as NATO and British American Tobacco Company. During the 1960s, she started translating children's books, for which she won awards.[1]

On 12 December 1959, she married London Irish Rifles officer, Seán Crampton. They lived in Brentford and she spent her later years in Calne, Wiltshire until her death on 1 December 2016.[1]

Awards and honours

In 1984 Crampton was awarded the Schlegel-Tieck Prize for her translation of Marbot by Wolfgang Hildesheimer. She twice won Mildred L. Batchelder Awards for translations of: No Hero for the Kaiser by Rudolph Frank in 1987 and Ronia, the Robber's Daughter by Astrid Lindgren in 1984[3][4] In 1996 the Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs Pierre-François Caille Medal was given to Crampton for her services to translation.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d Berry, Charlotte (9 January 2020). "Crampton [née Wood], Patricia Elizabeth Cardew (1925–2016)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 2 May 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "Patsy Crampton - Highly skilled linguist who, after her grim time as a translator at the Nuremberg trials, worked on more than 200 children's books". The Times. London, England. 8 December 2016. p. 43.
  3. ^ "Mildred L. Batchelder Award for Children's Books in Translation 1968-2003". The Booklist Center. Archived from the original on 25 January 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Eccleshare, Julia (27 January 2017). "Patricia Crampton obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Lathey, GIllian (13 September 2010). The Role of Translators in Children's Literature: Invisible Storytellers. Routledge. ISBN 9781136925740. Retrieved 2 May 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)