At a Glance
Elizabeth George Speare is on the list of America’s one hundred most popular children’s authors, and she has won many awards, including two Newbery Medals, the most prestigious prize given to children’s literature. It would not be an exaggeration to say that almost every child in America will read one of her books before graduating from high school. Speare's stellar career as a writer, however, almost didn’t happen. Though she wrote a good deal as a child, she stopped for many years and focused her energy and attention on her family. Speare didn’t start writing commercially until she was in her forties and her children were in their early teens. Like her most famous work, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, many of her stories are set in New England and focus on young people who are at a critical turning point in their lives.
Facts and Trivia
- Speare grew up in Melrose, Massachusetts. As a young child, she had a cousin who also loved to write. At family gatherings, they would read each other their latest stories. This practice continued throughout their college years.
- Speare’s novel Calico Captive was inspired by a journal she found written by Susanna Johnson, dated 1807. The diary told the story of the Johnson family’s kidnapping by Indians.
- In a famous acceptance speech for one of her Newbery Medals, she said, “I believe that all of us who are concerned with children are committed to the salvaging of love and honor and duty.”
- Although Speare often wrote about colonial life in America, her novel The Bronze Bow takes place during the time of Jesus.
- Speare died in 1994 of an aortic aneurysm at the age of 85.
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