Seven Stories was founded as a charity in 1996 by Elizabeth Hammill OBE and Mary Briggs OBE. They recognised that Britain needed an institution whose mission was to collect, champion and celebrate its children’s literature. They believed that it should be founded in a place where it could make a real difference to the children and families living nearby, knowing that early experience of books and stories is vital to childhood development and raising aspiration.

In the 1990s the original manuscripts and illustrations of some of Britain’s influential authors were being sold to overseas collectors and institutions. There was nowhere in Britain that saw its role as protector of our literary heritage for children. Children’s authors and illustrators told us that they were concerned for the future of their archives, and some wondered whether Britain should have a national centre for children’s books. Mary and Elizabeth set out, with the help of many authors, illustrators, publishers, teachers and librarians, to found such a place. From the earliest days Newcastle City Council and Arts Council England played a vital role in supporting the project.

In 2002 the charity purchased a building in the Ouseburn Valley, an area of cultural regeneration about ½ mile from Newcastle’s city centre. The seven storied Victorian warehouse was built in the 1870s to store grain. The building is listed and displays many original features such as cast iron pillars and beams. It was semi-derelict and in need of substantial repair to make it fit for thousands of visitors. The capital project cost £6.5m and was achieved with grants from Newcastle City Council, Arts Council England, ERDF, Single Programme, Northern Rock Foundation, The Barbour Trust, Robert Westall Trust, Sebastian Walker Fund and donations from many other trusts and generous individuals. Seven Stories was opened to the public by Children’s Laureate Dame Jacqueline Wilson and Nick Sharratt on 19th August 2005.

In 2010 we received the prestigious Eleanor Farjeon Award, presented by the Children’s Book Circle, in recognition of our outstanding contribution to children’s literature.

National status was awarded at the end of 2012 through Arts Council England’s accreditation scheme. This standard recognises the excellence of our work in caring for our literary heritage and engaging our visitors in children’s literature through the quality of our exhibitions, events and learning programmes.

Further good news came in 2013 when Seven Stories was awarded Gold in the Best Education Project category at the National Lottery Awards.

2015 was a very special year for us as we celebrated our 10th birthday. The Seven Stories visitor centre reopened in July following a three month refurbishment which transformed the building to provide deeper and more inspiring access to our growing Collection and make the experience that we give our young visitors even more magical than before.

Michael Morpurgo donated his entire archive to Seven Stories in 2015 and we welcomed HRH The Duchess of Cornwall and best-selling children's author, David Walliams for visits to the centre. 2015 also saw the release of our first publication, Drawn from the Archive, which explores the history of children's illustration featured in Seven Stories' Collection from the 1930s until the present day.

We were then given the Gold Award for Large Visitor Attraction of the Year at the North East England Tourism Awards.