Elizabeth Yates

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Last Updated on May 11, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 375

Elizabeth Yates was born in Buffalo, New York, on December 6, 1905, the sixth of seven children in the family of Harry and Mary Duffy Yates. From kindergarten through the twelfth grade she attended the Franklin School in Buffalo, followed by a year of boarding school in Mamaroneck, New York. Equally important in her development as a writer, however, were the summers she spent on her father's farm south of Buffalo. On sunny days she roamed the countryside on horseback, composing stories in her head; on rainy days and during other free moments, she retired to her secret writing place, an unused pigeon loft.

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For three years, Yates worked for a newspaper and a magazine in New York as a book reviewer, researcher, and feature and fiction writer. The time period that she refers to as her "apprenticeship" as a writer ended when her first book was published in 1938. Since that time Yates has published more than thirty books for young adults and more than twenty for older readers, as well as articles, essays, and reviews in journals. Fifteen of her books have been published in foreign editions, most of them British, but some of them Dutch, Japanese, Israeli, Bengali, and German. Her manuscripts are among the special collections of Mugar Memorial Library, Boston University.

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On November 6, 1929, Yates married William McGreal, and for ten years they lived in Europe, primarily in London, where Yates undertook extensive research in the British Museum and the London Library. The couple also traveled extensively in Great Britain and Iceland, as well as on the Continent. In 1939 they returned to the United States, and two years later they found their "ideal" farmhouse in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Her husband died in December 1963, but Yates continues to live in Peterborough, where she has long been active in community affairs.

Yates's talent has been recognized with many professional awards. Twice she has received the New York Herald Tribune Spring Book Festival juvenile award (1943 and 1950); she has also received the Newbery Medal and the William Allen White Children's Book Award (1953) for Amos Fortune, the Boys' Clubs of America Gold Medal (1953), the Jane Addams Children's Book Award from the United States section of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (1955), and the Sarah Josepha Hale Award (1970).

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