Elizabeth George Speare was born on November 21, 1908 in Melrose, Massachusetts. Young Elizabeth loved to read, spending long summers devouring books and dreaming about the characters she met there and her own made-up stories. She went to Smith College and Boston University, teaching high school English in Massachusetts after graduate school.
She married Alden Speare in 1936 and moved to Connecticut. Three years later their son, Alden, Jr., was born. Another three years saw the birth of their daughter, Mary. Mrs. Speare’s family spent a good deal of time out-of-doors camping, skiing, and hiking. She wrote that it wasn’t until her children were both in junior high that she had enough time during the day to fulfill her dreams of writing her own stories.
Her first book, Calico Captive, was published in 1957. The Witch of Blackbird Pond, her second book, about an imaginary girl from Wethersfield, Connecticut, in 1687, when people believed in witches, won a Newbery Medal in 1959. Speare was awarded a second Newbery for The Bronze Bow in 1962 and a Newbery Honor in 1984 for The Sign of the Beaver. She received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for her distinguished and enduring contribution to children’s literature. Recognized by literary critics as one of the best writers of historical fiction for children, Speare died in 1994.