Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 480
Maureen Ann Crane was born on January 25, 1940, in Ashiya, Japan, a beautiful community on the Inland Sea, to Albert Edwin Crane, a businessman, and Josephine Wagen Crane, a teacher from Geneva, Switzerland. Though not with great clarity, Maureen remembers the sound of World War II bombs raining on...
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Maureen Ann Crane was born on January 25, 1940, in Ashiya, Japan, a beautiful community on the Inland Sea, to Albert Edwin Crane, a businessman, and Josephine Wagen Crane, a teacher from Geneva, Switzerland. Though not with great clarity, Maureen remembers the sound of World War II bombs raining on nearby Kobe and Osaka; she was not evacuated to a war-free countryside, and so these sensory memories have fueled the strong antiwar stance that permeates all her work. Because of the war's disruption and devastation, she was taught at home by her keenly intellectual Uncle Harry; she could recite Shakespeare's Julius Caesar at five and had read literary classics in English and French by ten. She was, in fact, so advanced that, after formal elementary schooling at a convent school, she skipped seventh grade and completed her junior and senior high schooling at the Canadian Academy in Ashiya by seventeen. During the school years, what she really "wanted to do was write;" she regrets that she did not learn as a child to write Japanese, the language she spoke fluently, but at the young age of fourteen, she published a story in English for a London magazine.
Her professional literary career was officially launched in 1957 when she became a summer free-lance writer for the Kobe-based English Mainichi, one of Japan's best dailies. She began university studies in 1958 at the University of Redlands in California and received a B.A. in 1962 from Sophia University, a prestigious Jesuit school in Tokyo. While at Sophia, she met Maximilian Wartski, who was an American serviceman born in Danzig, Germany (now Gdansk, Poland); they were married on June 1, 1962, and Maureen became a naturalized U.S. citizen. The couple lived in Bangkok, Thailand, where Maximilian was posted, from 1962 to 1966; their sons Bert and Mark were born there in 1963 and 1966. During these years Maureen, herself a Eurasian, grew to know and value even more deeply the people and culture of Indochina, where she traveled freely, briefly visiting even Vietnam. After 1966 the Wartskis made their home in Sharon, Massachusetts, where Maureen became a teacher of high school English (and occasionally history) in the Sharon public schools. She continued writing and teaching during the 1970s, using her experiences with young people— her sons and her students—to add realism to the short stories, plays, and four books for young readers that she wrote between 1979 and 1981.
Today she writes full time (sometimes under the name M. A. Crane), more for adult than juvenile audiences. But she still values young readers, whose "sensitivities and sensibilities have not become blunted, [and whose] experience has not been dulled." In fact, her story about a young Vietnamese girl will appear in a forthcoming anthology about the children of minorities, and she plans other stories for adolescents. Most importantly, whether writing for youth or adult, Wartski always brings relevance, emotional honesty, and intensity to whatever she undertakes.