S. E. Hinton Biography

Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

For a writer who has sold millions of copies of her novels, S. E. (Susan Eloise) Hinton carries a very brief and unassuming biography. She was born and has spent most of her life in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is also the setting for her fiction. In her junior year of high school, her father died of cancer; that same year, at the age of seventeen, she completed the manuscript for The Outsiders (1967). She enrolled in the University of Tulsa in 1966, and the novel was published in her freshman year. She graduated in 1970 with a degree in education. She and her husband, David Inhofe, live in Tulsa, where their son, Nicholas David, was born in 1983.

While Hinton has given several interviews, she remains a private and rather shadowy figure. The myths that have grown up about her—that she was herself a gang member like the young “greasers” she depicts so graphically in The Outsiders, for example—are probably more a tribute to her novels: Her young fans get so involved in her work that they imagine more about her than can be true. Her private life has remained just that, and she has gained the most publicity by involving herself in two of the film productions of her novels: She was present on the set of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Outsiders in 1983 (she plays a minor part as a nurse in the film), and she wrote the screenplay for Coppola’s film version of Rumble Fish (the novel was published in 1975) later that year.

By the time Hinton was thirty-one, she had four major young adult works under her belt and was considered by many critics and teachers to be one of the most important figures in the development of the young adult novel. In July of 1988, she was awarded the first YASD/SLJ Author Achievement Award, given by the Young Adult Services Division of the American Library Association and School Library Journal, for novels that provide young adults “a window through which they can view their world and which [can] help them to grow and to understand themselves and their role in society.”

S. E. Hinton Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

A popular young adult novelist, Hinton reuses many elements throughout her novels. Few parents appear in her novels, and the protagonists are often searching for substitutes, which they find in slightly older males; the focus is primarily on young men bonding with one another. Her plots are action-packed, and the central character usually narrates the story of his emerging self and conflicting loyalties. Both the strengths and weaknesses of the young adult genre are apparent in Hinton’s work. She has created a unique first-person voice that invites readers to share the story.

S. E. Hinton Biography (Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

0111201223-Hinton_SE.jpg S. E. Hinton (David Inhofe) Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Author Profile

In 1967, at the age of seventeen, S. E. Hinton published The Outsiders because, she said, “A lot of adult literature was older than I was ready for. The kids’ books were Mary Jane-Goes-to-the-Prom.” She portrayed her characters in honest, almost brutal fashion. The book was hailed by critics who felt that, as opposed to many authors, Hinton depicted adolescence not as a mindless, muddle-headed period but as a painful, dangerous time that often had an unhappy ending. Her later books included That Was Then, This Is Now (1971), Tex (1979), Rumble Fish (1977), and Taming the Star Runner (1988).

The language, violence, and realism of Hinton’s work became targets of school and library censors. In 1986, for example, The Outsiders and That Was Then, This Is Now were both challenged in the South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, School District for their depiction of teenagers’ drug and alcohol use, and because all the characters were from broken homes. The library in Boone, Iowa, also challenged The Outsiders in 1992. That Was Then, This Is Now was contested in 1983 in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, because of its graphic depiction of violence, its language, and its supposed lack of literary merit. In spite of such attempts, however, Hinton’s novels have continued to reach a wide readership of young adults.


Chevalier, Tracy, ed. Twentieth-Century Children’s Writers. 3d ed. Chicago: St. James Press, 1989. Includes a concise review of Hinton’s major works.

Daly, Jay. Presenting S. E. Hinton. Updated ed. Boston: Twayne, 1989. A comprehensive and authoritative reference.

Drew, Bernard A. The One Hundred Most Popular Young Adult Authors: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies. Englewood, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1997. Helpful commentary on Hinton and list of additional references.

S. E. Hinton Biography (Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Susan Eloise Hinton was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1948. As a teenager, she was shy and did not like to draw attention to herself, yet she did not conform to the expected pursuits of a teenage girl at that time. She was a tomboy who loved horses, and although she generally did not suffer directly from the social tension that existed between the socioeconomic classes in her town, she felt keenly the effects that such tension had on those around her.

While Hinton was in high school, her father was diagnosed with a brain tumor and was hospitalized for extended periods of time. In response, Hinton threw herself into the novel she had begun writing in order to create the type of realistic fiction she herself craved as a reader. She completed the first draft during her junior year, around the same time her father died. She then polished the work in subsequent drafts but did not consider submitting it for publication until a writer acquaintance advised her to send it to her own agent. The book was quickly accepted, and during the editorial process, Hinton graduated from high school and began attending the University of Tulsa, initially majoring in journalism and later switching to education. It was during this time that Hinton’s publisher encouraged her to use the gender-neutral initials for her byline, fearing that reviewers might dismiss a male-oriented book written by a female author.

Although it was not technically an overnight sensation,...

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S. E. Hinton Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

With the publication of The Outsiders, Susan Eloise Hinton revolutionized young adult literature. Considered the first modern young adult novel, the beginning of “new realism” in works for teenagers, this novel portrays teenagers realistically rather than idealistically. The Outsiders resonated with readers because Hinton captured characters, settings, and dialogue that were characteristic of teenage life in the United States, perhaps because she was a teenager when she wrote the novel.

Little is known of Hinton’s childhood, and some controversy exists even as to her year of birth, but most biographers agree that Hinton was a sophomore at Tulsa’s Will Rogers High School when she began writing The Outsiders. Her father, Grady P. Hinton, had recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor, and her mother observed that the more ill her husband became, the harder Hinton worked on her writing. He died in her junior year, about the time she finished the book. She actually worked through four drafts of it and still had no dreams of having it published until a friend’s mother who wrote children’s books gave her the name of her agent in New York. Hinton sent her the manuscript and thus became a published author when the novel appeared in stores during the spring of her freshman year in college.

The book was published under her initials, to maintain her anonymity; the publisher was concerned that boys would find it difficult to relate to the book—despite the fact that it is written from the male perspective—if they knew the author was a woman. Writing from the male point of view seemed quite natural to Hinton, who considered herself a tomboy and had many close male friends. Further, part of the impetus for writing came from her need to read such a book. Up to that time, books for young adults tended to focus on issues like whether Betty Jane or Sally were going to be invited to the prom. Hinton also wrote in response to the divisions in her own school, the final push occurring after a friend suffered a terrible beating.

Royalties from The Outsiders, which initially sold four million copies, helped finance Hinton’s education at the University of Tulsa, where she majored in education and graduated with a B.S. in 1970. During this time she met David Inhofe, whom she married in 1970. He helped her to overcome a disabling writer’s block. Once she began taking literature courses at college and reread...

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S. E. Hinton Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Susan Eloise Hinton was born in 1950 inTulsa, Oklahoma. While still in high school, Hinton began work on her first book, The...

(The entire section is 364 words.)

S. E. Hinton Biography (Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

A publicity-shy novelist (she will not give out her date of birth), Susan Eloise Hinton completed her first book, The Outsiders, while...

(The entire section is 412 words.)

S. E. Hinton Biography (Novels for Students)

Born in 1950, S E. Hinton has spent her entire life in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While growing up in Tulsa, Hinton was a keen observer of her friends...

(The entire section is 254 words.)

S. E. Hinton Biography (Novels for Students)

S. E. Hinton Published by Gale Cengage

Susan Eloise Hinton was born in 1950 (some sources say 1948) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her first book, The...

(The entire section is 317 words.)

S. E. Hinton Biography (Novels for Students)

Susan Eloise Hinton, known to her readers as S. E. Hinton was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1950, a setting...

(The entire section is 325 words.)

S. E. Hinton Biography (Novels for Students)

Bom in 1950, Susan Eloise Hinton was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was an avid reader as a child and experimented with writing by the time...

(The entire section is 446 words.)