Jane Yolen Biography


The award-winning Armageddon Summer represents the first collaborative effort of prolific authors Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville. Both are primarily fantasists whose publishing credits reflect a strong interest in literature for children and young adults. The life stories of both authors include a childhood love of books and writing in which family influences play a part. Yolen particularly claims an interest in religious matters that developed in her early years. Although both authors are equally responsible for Armageddon Summer, they agree that Yolen conceived the idea and led the way.

Yolen was born in New York City, New York, on February 11, 1939, into a Jewish family gifted in storytelling and writing. Her father, Will Hyatt Yolen, worked as a journalist and publicist and wrote books and radio scripts. Her mother, Isabelle Berlin Yolen, liked to write stories and develop puzzles and acrostics (taking the first or last letter of a word and creating a word or phrase from that). Encouraged by her parents, Yolen read fairy tales and studied music at an early age. She wrote the musical for her first-grade class. As an eighth-grader at Hunter, a New York school for gifted girls, she composed a paper in rhyme, as well as wrote a nonfiction piece about pirates and a seventeen-page western novel. Yolen's first book Pirates in Petticoats, published in 1963, grew from these efforts.

During her high school years in Westport, Connecticut, Yolen pursued her writing and won an English prize. At this time she also developed her lasting interest in diverse religions. She was impressed by the Quaker religion when an adored cousin-in-law gave her a copy of the journal of George Fox, its founder. She attended church with a Roman Catholic friend. The observances became a source for the rituals Yolen later wove into her stories and fairy tales. She once noted that The Magic Three of Solatia, published in 1974, is a blend of Jewish, Quaker, and Roman Catholic elements. Yolen has published a number of books, including novels and...

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(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Jane Yolen was born in New York City on February 11, 1939, and she went to grade schools there until she attended high school in Westport, Connecticut. She was encouraged in imaginative pursuits by a family life rich in writing, storytelling, and singing. She studied piano and ballet, read avidly, and showed talent at a very early age, composing the script and music for her first-grade class play. While an eighth-grader at New York's Hunter Academy, a school for gifted girls, she authored two "books," a nonfiction piece on pirates and a seventeen-page western novel. Yolen's first book accepted for publication, a children's nonfiction work Pirates in Petticoats (1963), developed from those early efforts.

Yolen continued to thrive in her teenage years; she was active on the staff of the high school newspaper, joined music groups, wrote term papers in verse, and won an English prize. Yolen, who is Jewish, developed a lasting interest in religions during these years, and she was introduced to Catholicism by a best friend. A cousin-by-marriage, whom Yolen credits as a great influence in her creative career, introduced her to Quakerism as well as to folk-song fests. Yolen's later nonfiction books about the Quakers and their strange offshoot, the Shakers, as well as the fictional The Gift of Sarah Barker, reflect these early religious influences.

Yolen attended Smith College where she won poetry prizes, published poems in magazines, and performed...

(The entire section is 514 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

With over 125 books to her credit, Jane Yolen has been called "the American Hans Christian Andersen" by her editor, Arm K. Beneduce. Fascinated all her life by the folk legends of the world, she has adapted much of that material for her books. A precocious child who could read even before entering school, she also loved folk music; later while at Smith College, she helped support herself as a folk singer and poet. Medieval folklore, particularly Arthurian legends, is her favorite source material and forms the background for several of her books.

Yolen was born in New York City on February 11, 1939. Her father, Will Hyatt was an author who specialized in human relations. Her mother, Isabelle Berlin Hyatt, was a social worker. Yolen attended public school in New York, and later entered Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut. While in her teens she became deeply interested in Quakerism. The rituals of Quakerism, Judaism, and Catholocism would later be incorporated into her fairy tales and novels.

At Staples High School, Yolen was captain of the girls' basketball team, served on the newspaper staff, participated in the jazz, Spanish and Latin clubs, and won the school's English prize. She also toured and performed in the school's choir. Yolen's interest in Quakerism and pacifism intensified with her participation in folk music festivals, called hootenannies, which also helped her develop her interest in poetry and folk songs. She further honed her...

(The entire section is 477 words.)