S. E. Hinton Biography

Biography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

ph_0111201223-Hinton_SE.jpgS. E. Hinton. Published by Salem Press, Inc.

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.jpgS. 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

S. E. Hinton223_1193696407.jpg


Because she couldn’t stand the literature she was forced to read when she was in high school, Hinton was drawn to writing novels for young adults. She was only a freshman in high school when she started what would become her most famous work, The Outsiders, the second biggest seller in young adult books even today. Unafraid of exposing teenage rebellion, acts of juvenile delinquency, and social conduct found in teenage subcultures, Hinton went on to write four more novels, including Rumble Fish, that spoke directly to teens, expressing their feelings as best she could rather than trying to preach at them. Not surprisingly, Hinton herself is a bit of a rebel. She now refuses to speak or to read in public to promote her books.

Essential Facts

  1. Susan Eloise Hinton chose to use only her first and middle initials (S. E.) when it came time to publish her first novel. She figured that boys wouldn’t read her book if they knew a girl had written it.
  2. Not only did one of the greatest directors ever, Francis Ford Coppola, direct the movie version of The Outsiders, but some of the greatest up-an-coming young movie actors starred in it: Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, and Tom Cruise.
  3. Hinton’s realistic depiction of life in her novels changed the trend in books written for young adults, which had previously displayed only sugarcoated versions of the struggles real teens dealt with.
  4. When it came time for her to write her second novel, That Was Then, This Is Now, she was stumped and couldn’t write at all. Her future husband helped out by refusing to take her out on a date until she showed him that she had written at least two pages that day.
  5. Hinton was trained to be a teacher, but she never taught. After her practice-teaching, she realized she became too emotionally involved with her students’ life stories.

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...

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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...

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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 Outsiders, was published when she was seventeen. A tomboy, Hinton wrote the book because the teen books then available were too wholesome and sweet for her tastes. The novel deals with rivalry between students of different social classes, poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, and teenage angst. Because the main character was male, her editors urged her to conceal her own gender by using her initials instead of her full name.

Hinton began writing the book during her sophomore year. She didn't think of publishing it until the mother of one of her schoolmates, who was a professional children's writer, took a look at it and told Hinton to send it to her agent. Hinton did, and the novel was accepted for publication on the night of her high school graduation.

Publication of the book brought intense attention to Hinton, who was busy studying education at the University of Tulsa, marrying her husband, David Inhofe, and having a family. Four years later, she published another book, That Was Then, This Is Now, another story of troubled youth. Rumble Fish came out in 1975, and Tex was published in 1979. Her fifth young adult book, Taming the Star Runner, was published in 1988. She has also written two books for younger readers.

Despite her relatively small number of titles, Hinton's work has had a major impact on literature for children, helping to shape the direction of young adult literature by moving it toward less idealized, more realistic portrayals of the lives of teenagers. Certainly, she has struck a nerve among young readers, who respond to her depictions of their peers and their emotional pain.

In 1988, Hinton was honored with the Margaret A. Edwards Award for career achievement. Over ten million copies of her books are in print, and films have been made of four of her novels.

S. E. Hinton Biography (Novels for Students)

S. E. Hinton Published by Gale Cengage

Susan Eloise Hinton, known to her readers as S. E. Hinton was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1950, a setting that has influenced the majority of her young adult novels. In fact, Hinton is commonly credited as the person who revolutionized the tone of young adult fiction, by using gritty, realistic settings such as the Tulsa-like background of hers hugely successful debut novel, The Outsiders. Published in 1967, when Hinton was seventeen and a student at Tulsa’s Will Rogers High School, the book also set the standard for future young adult novels, by addressing hard issues that teens faced, such as gang violence. The novel was published under her initials, because the publisher feared that their audience, mainly young men, would not accept a female author, especially since most of her narrators are male. Even though Hinton’s gender was eventually revealed, she has used her initials for all of her published books thus far.

Hinton’s second young adult novel, That Was Then, This Is Now, featured the same type of setting and themes that made The Outsiders such a success. However, since That Was Then, This Is Now was published four years later, in 1971, it also addressed current issues, such as drug use, and examined the hippie lifestyle. Both The Outsiders and That Was Then, This Is Now were made into film adaptations, and the former was directed by Godfather director, Francis Ford Coppola. Hinton was actively involved with both adaptations, which featured such future stars as Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, and Tom Cruise. Two other Hinton novels, Rumble Fish, published in 1975, and Tex, published in 1979, were also adapted as films. Coppola also directed Rumble Fish, which he filmed in black and white to emphasize one character’s color blindness. Hinton’s most recent works include two children’s books, Big David, Little David and The Puppy Sister, both published in 1995. Hinton continues to live and work in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

S. E. Hinton Biography (Novels for Students)

S. E. Hinton Published by Gale Cengage

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 she turned ten. Her early stories were about cowboys and horses, and she preferred plots with rough riding and gunfights. When Hinton reached her teens, however, she could not find anything pleasing to read. Adult literature was still a bit too complicated for her, while literature for teens consisted of innocent tales about girls finding boyfriends. To please herself, she decided to create a different fictional universe from these annoying "Mary Jane goes to the prom" novels. She wanted to create a realistic story about being a teen. Additionally, like her character Ponyboy, she wanted to record some events of her high school years. She took inspiration from real events and people to create a story of class warfare between teens. After working on the novel for a year and a half and through four re-writes, she let a friend's mother read it. The mother liked it enough to refer her to an agent, Marilyn Marlow of the Curtis Brown Agency. A contract offering publication arrived during Hinton's high-school graduation ceremonies.

The Outsiders was published in 1967, when the author was just seventeen. Susan Eloise shortened her name to S. E. Hinton so that boys would not know the author was female. It was published to critical acclaim, won several awards, and became a cult classic among teen readers. The success of The Outsiders enabled Hinton to go to the University of Tulsa, where she earned a B.S. in Education in 1970. While in school she met her future husband, David Inhofe, who encouraged her to write her second novel, That Was Then, This Is Now (1971). Over the next decade, she published a new novel every four years. In 1975, she published Rumble Fish, and Tex in 1979. Although she was no longer an adolescent herself, Hinton was still able to bring her sympathy for teens and insight into their lives to her work. She only published one work in the 1980s, 1988's Taming the Star Runner, and in the 1990s she has focused more on picture books for younger readers than on novels.

Other than her writing, Hinton is kept busy by a family life and her son, Nicholas David. She has also served as a consultant on the film adaptations of her novels and has even appeared in minor roles. She continues to write and lives in Tulsa. Her pivotal role in the development of young adult fiction was recognized in 1988, when the American Library Association awarded her the first Margaret Edwards Young Adult Author Achievement Award for her body of work.