Palaeontology pioneer championed in new book

Published: 28 March 2023 at 12:30

Kate Winter with her book, The Fossil Hunter

ARU illustration lecturer brings Mary Anning’s remarkable story to life for children

A children’s book telling the story of an often forgotten forerunner in the field of palaeontology has been written and illustrated by Kate Winter, lecturer on the BA (Hons) Illustration course at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).

The Fossil Hunter, published by Puffin Books, explores the achievements of Mary Anning, a fossil collector who gained global renown for her discoveries on the south coast of England in the 19th century.

The historic relics unearthed by Anning on the beaches of Dorset made her a pioneer of palaeontology, with many of her finds still contributing to scientific understanding of dinosaur evolution.

Featuring an inspirational tale told on panoramic fold-out pages, all illustrated by Kate, the publication will be available to buy as both a picture book and e-book from 6 April.

Discussing her motivations for telling this story, Kate said:

“I felt drawn to Mary Anning’s story for a few reasons. She had an unwavering commitment to discovering the truth about dinosaurs and fossils and how they fit with the history of our planet.  

“As a woman from a working-class background her acceptance into scholarly circles had to be fought for and yet she made herself heard through the authority she had on her subject matter.  

“Her imagination was of utmost importance in her ability to understand and make educated guesses about how things came to be. As an artist I love that creativity and ability to imagine a story behind an object. Mary is a great example of bringing stories to life and so for me she is the perfect heroine of a picture book. 

“I hope The Fossil Hunter connects with the imagination of the children who read it. It would be lovely if it also inspires young palaeontologists and creatives to delve into magical worlds of their own and sparks an interest in the incredible history of our planet.” 


The Fossil Hunter will not be the last Puffin Books title written and illustrated by Kate Winter, who has another project with the publisher set to be released next year. This book will focus on cave paintings and humanity’s innate creativity in storytelling.

Not only affiliated to the university as a member of staff, Kate also completed an MA in Childrens Book Illustration at ARU. In the process, her work received broad acclaim as she won the Cambridge School of Art Ronald Searle prize for creativity, finished runner up in the prestigious Batsford Prize for Illustration and was highly commended in the V&A Student Illustrator of The Year.

In addition to commercial commissions for the likes of Nokia and Nike, Kate’s previous projects have included work on titles such as Yoga for Motherhood and Other Women’s Kitchens.