With over 125 books to her credit, Jane Yolen has been called "the American Hans Christian Andersen" by her editor, Arm K. Beneduce. Fascinated all her life by the folk legends of the world, she has adapted much of that material for her books. A precocious child who could read even before entering school, she also loved folk music; later while at Smith College, she helped support herself as a folk singer and poet. Medieval folklore, particularly Arthurian legends, is her favorite source material and forms the background for several of her books.
Yolen was born in New York City on February 11, 1939. Her father, Will Hyatt was an author who specialized in human relations. Her mother, Isabelle Berlin Hyatt, was a social worker. Yolen attended public school in New York, and later entered Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut. While in her teens she became deeply interested in Quakerism. The rituals of Quakerism, Judaism, and Catholocism would later be incorporated into her fairy tales and novels.
At Staples High School, Yolen was captain of the girls' basketball team, served on the newspaper staff, participated in the jazz, Spanish and Latin clubs, and won the school's English prize. She also toured and performed in the school's choir. Yolen's interest in Quakerism and pacifism intensified with her participation in folk music festivals, called hootenannies, which also helped her develop her interest in poetry and folk songs. She further honed her...
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