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Archive | Authors Emeritus

Authors Emeritus: Virginia Lee Burton

ph_VirginiaLeeBurtonVir­ginia Lee Bur­ton was born on August 30, 1909 in New­ton Cen­tre, Mass­a­chu­setts. She stud­ied art at the Cal­i­for­nia School of Fine Arts and the Boston Muse­um School. One of her ear­li­est jobs was as a “sketch­er” for the arts sec­tion of the Boston Tran­script.

She mar­ried George Demetrios, a sculp­tor and her teacher at the Muse­um School, in 1931. They set­tled in Glouces­ter, Mass­a­chu­setts, where they had two sons. “I lit­er­al­ly draw my books first and write down the text after “I pin the sketched pages in sequence on the walls of my stu­dio so I can see the books as a whole. Then I make a rough dum­my and then the final draw­ings, and at last when I can put it off no longer, I type out the text and paste it in the bk_mikedum­my.”

Thir­teen pub­lish­ers reject­ed her first man­u­script about a dust par­ti­cle, Jonif­fer Lint. When her three-year-old son fell asleep on her lap while she read it to him, she stopped send­ing it to pub­lish­ers, and there­after relied on chil­dren as her pri­ma­ry crit­ics.

Her clas­sic books have nev­er been out of print and are cur­rent­ly embraced by a fourth gen­er­a­tion of ear­ly read­ers. She won the 1942 Calde­cott Medal for The Lit­tle House. Vir­ginia Lee Bur­ton died Octo­ber 15, 1968.

For more infor­ma­tion on the author, her books, and her design work, please vis­it Vir­ginia Lee Bur­ton, The Film.



Authors Emeritus: Lynd Ward

ph_LyndWardBorn 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.

bk_BiggestBearWard’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.

bk_GodsManWard 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.


Authors Emeritus: Tom Feelings and Virginia Hamilton

Authors Emer­i­tus, a com­pi­la­tion of short biogra­phies of deceased children’s lit­er­a­ture cre­ators, is a Bookol­o­gy Children’s Lit­er­a­ture resource.  When a Book­storm™ includes books by authors and illus­tra­tors in the index we like to high­light those biogra­phies. This month: Tom Feel­ings (The Mid­dle Pas­sage) and Vir­ginia Hamil­ton (Many Thou­sand Gone).



ph_feelingsTom Feel­ings, born on May 19, 1933, was a native of Brook­lyn, NY. He attend­ed the School of Visu­al Arts for two years before join­ing the Air Force, work­ing as a staff artist. He then worked as a free­lance artist, pub­lished in Look mag­a­zine, trav­eled to Ghana to work for the African Review, and returned to the U.S. in 1966 to con­cen­trate on illus­trat­ing books with African and African-Amer­i­can themes.

He cre­at­ed the com­ic strip “Tom­my Trav­el­er in the World of Negro His­to­ry” in 1958 for New York Age, a news­pa­per based in Harlem. He col­lab­o­rat­ed with tal­ent­ed black writ­ers such as Julius Lester, Eloise Green­field, Nik­ki Grimes, and Maya Angelou.

bk_MiddlePassageIn his life and work he tried to por­tray the real­i­ty of life for African Amer­i­cans while depict­ing the beau­ty and warmth of black cul­ture. Feel­ings won numer­ous awards for his work. Moja Means One, a Swahili count­ing book, and Jam­bo Means Hel­lo, a Swahili alpha­bet book, were cho­sen as Calde­cott Hon­or Books in 1972 and 1974. Some­thing On My Mind won the Coret­ta Scott King Award in 1978. The Mid­dle Pas­sage was award­ed the Coret­ta Scott King Award for Illus­tra­tors and the Jane Addams Chil­dren’s Book Award. Feel­ings referred to him­self as a sto­ry­teller in pic­ture form.

Mr. Feel­ings died August 25, 2003 at the age of 70.


ph_HamiltonVir­ginia Hamil­ton was born on March 12th, 1936, on a farm in Yel­low Springs, Ohio. As a writer, she achieved crit­i­cal suc­cess from the start with the pub­li­ca­tion of her first book, Zeely.

Her 1974 nov­el M.C. Hig­gins the Great won the New­bery Medal, mak­ing Vir­ginia the first African Amer­i­can author ever to receive this hon­or. In addi­tion, the book won the Nation­al Book Award, Boston Globe – Horn Book Award, Lewis Car­roll Shelf Award, the Peace Prize of Ger­many, New York Times Out­stand­ing Children’s Book of the Year and Hans Chris­t­ian Ander­sen Hon­or Book, among oth­ers. This marked the first time a book had won the grand slam of New­bery Medal, Nation­al Book Award, and Boston Globe – Horn Book Award.

In 1992 she was award­ed the Hans Chris­t­ian Ander­sen Award for Writ­ing, the high­est inter­na­tion­al recog­ni­tion bestowed on an author or illus­tra­tor of children’s lit­er­a­ture. At the time she was only the fourth Amer­i­can to win the award, which has been pre­sent­ed every oth­er year since 1956.

In addi­tion to the awards for M.C. Hig­gins the Great, her work has won New­bery Hon­ors, Coret­ta Scott King awards and hon­ors, an Edgar Allen Poe award, and has been on mul­ti­ple “best of the year” lists.

Hamil­ton said of her work:

bk_ManyThousandI see my books and the lan­guage I use in them as empow­er­ing me to give utter­ance to the dreams, the wish­es, of African Amer­i­cans. I see the imag­i­na­tive use of lan­guage and ideas as a way to illu­mi­nate the human con­di­tion. All of my work, as a nov­el­ist, a biog­ra­ph­er, cre­ator and com­pil­er of sto­ries, has been to por­tray the essence of a peo­ple who are a par­al­lel-cul­ture soci­ety in Amer­i­ca. I’ve attempt­ed to mark the his­to­ry and tra­di­tions of African Amer­i­cans, a par­al­lel cul­ture peo­ple, through my writ­ing, while bring­ing read­ers strong sto­ries and mem­o­rable char­ac­ters liv­ing near­ly the best they know how. I want read­ers, both adults and chil­dren, to care about who the char­ac­ters are. I want read­ers to feel, to under­stand, and to empathize. I want the books to make a world in which the char­ac­ters are real.”

She died on Feb. 19, 2002


Authors Emeritus: Arna Bontemps

Arna BontempsBorn on Octo­ber 13, 1902 in Louisiana, Arna Bon­temps grew up and was edu­cat­ed in Cal­i­for­nia. Upon grad­u­at­ing from col­lege he accept­ed a teach­ing posi­tion in New York City, where he became friends with sev­er­al oth­er writ­ers and edu­ca­tors, includ­ing Langston Hugh­es.

Bon­temps would become, along with Hugh­es, one of the influ­en­tial artists of the Harlem Renais­sance who would expand the pres­ence of African Amer­i­can writ­ers in children’s lit­er­a­ture. From 1932 until his death in 1973 Bon­temps was one of the most pro­lif­ic African Amer­i­can children’s authors, pub­lish­ing con­tem­po­rary, his­tor­i­cal, and fan­ta­sy fic­tion as well as pic­ture books, biogra­phies, tall tales, and a poet­ry anthol­o­gy. His 1948 non­fic­tion book, The Sto­ry of the Negro, won a New­bery Hon­or.

bk_PopoBon­temps’ first book for chil­dren, Popo and Fifi­na, was a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Hugh­es, and was illus­trat­ed by E. Simms Camp­bell, an African Amer­i­can artist. Upon the pub­li­ca­tion of Bon­tremps’ 1937 nov­el, Sad-Faced Boy, Bon­temps wrote to Hugh­es that he believed he’d writ­ten the “first Harlem sto­ry for chil­dren.”

In 1941 Bon­temps pub­lished Gold­en Slip­pers, the first com­pre­hen­sive anthol­o­gy of poet­ry for chil­dren fea­tur­ing Black poets. His 1951 nov­el Char­i­ot in the Sky is a fic­tion­al­ized sto­ry of the first Fisk Jubilee Singers, who intro­duced Negro spir­i­tu­als to the con­cert stage. At the time he wrote the nov­el, Bon­temps was a librar­i­an at Fisk Uni­ver­si­ty.

bk_StoryNegroBon­temps also wrote poet­ry and fic­tion for adults.

His family’s old Louisiana home is now the Arna Bon­temps African Amer­i­can Muse­um and Cul­tur­al Arts Cen­ter.

Arna Bon­tremps died from a heart attack on June 4, 1973.

—Mar­sha Qua­ley

For more Authors Emer­i­tus bios please vis­it the AE index.



Authors Emeritus: Syd Hoff

author photo

Syd Hoff, 1912 – 2004

His illus­tra­tions best char­ac­ter­ized as sim­plis­tic and humor­ous, Syd Hoff has held a warm place in children’s hearts through more than 200 books. Born on Sep­tem­ber 4th, Syd Hoff grew up in New York City. He went to the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Design as a fine arts stu­dent, but his teach­ers didn’t appre­ci­ate the humor that per­vad­ed his work.

Hoff sold his first car­toon to The New York­er at the age of eigh­teen. He drew many sin­gle-pan­el car­toons for that and oth­er mag­a­zines, as well as his own car­toon fea­ture, Laugh It Off, which ran in syn­di­ca­tion for almost twen­ty years.

cover imageIn 1958, he pub­lished his first children’s book, Dan­ny and the Dinosaur, which is a clas­sic for begin­ning read­ers. It was also one of the first. He has writ­ten sev­er­al fine books about car­toon­ing, all of which are worth find­ing in a used book­store.

Syra­cuse Uni­ver­si­ty in New York state hous­es the orig­i­nal draw­ings for his com­ic strip and mag­a­zine art, while the deGrum­mond Col­lec­tion in Mis­sis­sip­pi holds orig­i­nal mate­ri­als for forty-six of his books for chil­dren.

Mr. Hoff died May 12, 2004, at the age of 91.

—Vic­ki Palmquist

For more Authors Emer­i­tus biogra­phies please vis­it the AE index.



Author Emeritus: Eleanor Cameron


bk_wondrEleanor Frances But­ler Cameron in was born in Win­nipeg, Man­i­to­ba on March 23, 1912. She attend­ed UCLA and the LA Art Cen­ter School for three years before mar­ry­ing Ian Stu­art Cameron, a print­er, in 1934. Mrs. Cameron worked as a ref­er­ence librar­i­an for many years before begin­ning to write full time, and was fas­ci­nat­ed by the way the mind took frag­ments of a writer’s life and rearranged them for writ­ing mate­r­i­al. “Sit­u­a­tions … are like usable places — mys­te­ri­ous in their abil­i­ty to arouse the writer’s cre­ative response.”

One day her son David told her of a dream he’d had that would inspire the five Mush­room Plan­et books, includ­ing The Won­der­ful Flight to the Mush­room Plan­et and Stow­away to the Mush­room Plan­et. She wrote of bk_plantCal­i­for­nia, which she knew well, in The Ter­ri­ble Chur­nadryne and The Mys­te­ri­ous Christ­mas Shell; The Court of the Stone Chil­dren, for which she won a Nation­al Book Award; and in A Room Made of Win­dows, part of a real­is­tic fic­tion series about Julia Red­fern, a twelve-year-old writer. Mrs. Cameron died in 1996, leav­ing a lega­cy of delight­ful children’s books. She also wrote exten­sive­ly about the field of children’s lit­er­a­ture and ana­lyzed her own cre­ative process in such essays as “The Seed and The Vision: on the Writ­ing and Appre­ci­a­tion of Children’s Books,” which is a part of the Ker­lan Col­lec­tion.

— Julie Schus­ter

For more Authors Emer­i­tus biogra­phies please vis­it the AE index.



Author Emeritus: Rosemary Sutcliffe

Rosemary Sutcliff photoRose­mary Sut­cliff, author of children’s his­tor­i­cal nov­els, was born on Decem­ber 14, 1920, in Sur­rey, Eng­land. She wrote children’s books, nov­els, short sto­ries, and scripts for radio, TV, and film.

In child­hood, Stil­l’s dis­ease kept her in a wheel­chair and close to home. Her moth­er home­schooled her and first intro­duced her to Sax­on and Celtic leg­ends. She didn’t learn to read until the age of ten. In her auto­bi­og­ra­phy, Blue Hills Remem­bered, Ms. Sut­cliff wrote, “I had a lone­ly child­hood and grow­ing-up time. My par­ents loved me and I loved them, but I could nev­er talk to them about the prob­lems and fears and aching hopes inside me that I had most need to talk about to some­one. And there was no one else.”

The Lantern BearersSut­cliff attend­ed Bid­ford Art School at the age of 14. She began to write for pub­li­ca­tion in 1946 and was com­mis­sioned to write a children’s ver­sion of Robin Hood. She went on to write 46 nov­els for young peo­ple, sev­er­al of which were ALA notable books. The Lantern Bear­ers was award­ed the 1959 Carnegie Medal.

In 1975, she was appoint­ed Offi­cer of the Order of the British Empire for ser­vices to children’s lit­er­a­ture. In 1992, Ms. Sut­cliff was named Com­man­der of the Order of the British Empire.

She described her style as immers­ing her­self in an era, let­ting his­to­ry guide her plot devel­op­ment. She is remem­bered for her sense of his­tor­i­cal detail.

Rose­mary Sut­cliff died in 1992.

—Vic­ki Palmquist

For more Authors Emer­i­tus biogra­phies, please vis­it the AE index.


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