Marguerite (Lofft) de Angeli was born on March 14, 1889 in Lapeer, Michigan. Her father was a photographer and her grandfather was the town’s blacksmith. At the age of 13, her family moved to Philadelphia, where Marguerite’s artistic inclinations were encouraged. She was interested in singing, writing, and drawing, seemingly heading toward a career as a professional singer. When she met John de Angeli, he encouraged her to think of motherhood as her career, to which she agreed. The couple had five children.
When her first three were a bit older, Marguerite began to study with her next-door neighbor, an illustrator, eventually publishing in Country Gentleman magazine and illustrating books for other authors.
In 1935, she first published books she had both written and illustrated. Her first books were Ted and Nina Go to the Grocery Store and Ted and Nina Have a Happy Rainy Day. Her immensely popular books often dealt with the ordinary lives of immigrant children.
She was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1950 for The Door in the Wall, the story of a young disabled boy who saves a besieged castle in the thirteenth century. De Angeli received a Newbery honor in 1956 for The Black Fox of Lome. Yonie Wondernose won a Caldecott honor in 1945. That book and Henner’s Lydia were two notable stories about Amish children. In 1946, de Angeli broke literary ground by publishing Bright April, a story of a black girl and racial prejudice.
She died in 1987.