Born in Chicago on June 26, 1905, Lynd Ward, the son of a Methodist minister, grew up moving around and living close to new immigrants. Ward was a sickly baby and the family moved to northern Canada for several months hoping his health would improve.
Upon the family’s return, Ward, now a healthier child, never lost his bond with the wilderness. While at college he met and married his wife, May McNeer, and left for Leipzig, Germany with her shortly after graduation.
Ward’s illustrations show his respect for all people and the effects of his stay in the Canadian wilderness. Among his books are Caldecott Medal winner, The Biggest Bear (1952), The Silver Pony: A Story in Pictures (1973), a wordless picture book, several biographies of famous Americans, and one of Martin Luther. A number of these books were written by his wife, May McNeer.
Among the awards received by Ward are the Regina Award in 1975, the Carteret Book Club award for illustration, and others. Two Newbery winners were illustrated by Ward and another six books with Ward’s illustrations were named Newbery Honor books.
Ward was also an innovative creator of books for adults. He made the first American wordless novel, Gods’ Man, which was published in 1929. He made five more such works: Madman’s Drum (1930), Wild Pilgrimage (1932), Prelude to a Million Years (1933), Song Without Words (1936), and Vertigo (1937).
The Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, sponsored by Penn State University Libraries, is presented annually to the best graphic novel, fiction or non-fiction, published in the previous calendar year by a living U.S. or Canadian citizen or resident.
Lynd Ward died in 1985.