W. E. Butterworth

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Biography

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

A storyteller since childhood, William Edmund Butterworth, III, was born November 10, 1929, in Newark, New Jersey, to William E. Butterworth and Gladys (Schnable) Butterworth (who later became Mrs. Irving L. Cottrell). He married Emma Josefa Macalik, a dancer in the Corps de Ballet of the Vienna State Opera, in 1950, with whom has three children. Butterworth lives in Fairhope, Alabama.

He served in the Korean War as a combat correspondent and was associated with the United States Army as a senior technical writer before turning to writing fiction full time. He had been writing since leaving high school, first for adults and then, persuaded by his agent Malcolm Reiss, for young people. He has published well over a hundred books under his own and a dozen pen names. Since he had not written for young people before, he wrote his first book, The Wonders of Astronomy (1964) with his eleven-year-old daughter in mind. Discouraged by his inability to write well for young adults, he turned to his friend Alice Doughtie, librarian of the Choctawhatchee Regional Library in Dale County, Alabama, who told him to write for young people precisely as he wrote for adults. The result was that The Wonders of Astronomy received the "Author's Award" of the New Jersey Association of Teachers of English. Mr. Butterworth states, "I found [that] very satisfying, for I had never been able to pass high school English when a student in New Jersey." He now devotes about forty percent of his output to books for young people, generally of high school age.

In Holtze's Junior Authors and Illustrators (Vol. 5, 1978) Butterworth says,

The only philosophical observations I have to make vis-a-vis writing for young people are that young people are considerably brighter than they are normally given credit for being, and that they loathe being written down to. A fan letter from a youngster (one not written at the suggestion of a teacher) is probably the nicest thing connected with the publishing business.

Butterworth has written under various pen names, including: Walker E. Blake, Webb Beech, James McM. Douglas, Edmund O. Scholefield, Patrick J. Williams, and Eden Hughes. Under the pen...

(The entire section is 526 words.)