Harriette Gillem Robinet Biography
Harriette Gillem Robinet’s grandfather was Robert E. Lee’s slave until the age of thirteen. When Robinet was a young child, her father would sit on the porch in the summer and tell her stories and encourage her to write every day. Those early experiences indelibly shaped Robinet’s later work. After her fifth child was born with cerebral palsy, Robinet realized that there were no books that he could relate to as an African American child with a disability, so she began writing some. Her first book was Jay and the Marigold in 1976, which she followed with Ride the Red Cycle in 1980. Not an author to be pigeonholed, Robinet also writes historical fiction.
Facts and Trivia
- Robinet has a unique method for creating characters. She uses a personality chart with sixteen separate traits to make her characters real.
- Robinet worked as a microbiologist until the birth of her first child. She then wrote articles for several different journals while at home with her children.
- African Americans were not welcome in public libraries in Virginia and Washington, D.C., where Robinet grew up. She got a library card at the age of thirteen and remembers being followed through the library by suspicious staff members.
- Robinet’s husband was the first editor of many of her books.
- Robinet’s advice to budding writers is to always keep a journal handy and write as often as possible.
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