Esther Forbes, born on June 28, 1891, was well-known in her day as an author of historical novels for adults. In fact, she won a Pulitzer Prize in 1942 for Paul Revere and the World He Lived In. She was thought to be one of the foremost Revere scholars of her time. During her research for that book, she discovered that it was a horse boy who brought word to Paul Revere that the British were ready to March. That was Forbes’ inspiration for Johnny Tremain, the book which would win the Newbery Medal in 1943.
In 1912, Esther went to live with her sister Cornelia, who was teaching at the University of Wisconsin. It was there that she met a writing mentor who encouraged her to submit her short story, ‘Breakneck Hill,” to the Grinnell Review. That story won the O. Henry Prize for Short Stories in 1915.
Ms. Forbes moved back to Massachusetts in 1918, working for the publisher Houghton Mifflin in Boston, reading unsolicited manuscripts. Her first novel was published in 1926, O Genteel Lady!, and it was chosen by the Book-of-the-Month Club as its second monthly selection.
A resident of Worcester, Massachusetts when she died on August 12, 1967, her family still lives in her house — an historical treasure of one of America’s best-loved authors for children.