Nancy Willard was born June 26, 1936, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the daughter of Hobart Hurd Willard, a famed university chemistry professor and researcher, and Marge Sheppard Willard. An author of poetry, juvenile literature, criticism, short stories, and a novel, Willard has said that she grew up in a lively home that was a little like William Blake's Inn.
Willard started writing at an early age. She and her sister Ann put out a precocious two person newspaper, the "Stony Lake News," at the family's summer retreat in rural Michigan. Her first published poem appeared when she was seven, and her miniature book "A Child's Star" was reproduced in Horn Book magazine while she was still in high school.
Willard attended the University of Michigan where she received a bachelor's degree in English and a doctorate in medieval literature in 1963. She also holds an advanced degree from Stanford University and has studied art and language in such far-flung locales as France, Norway, and Mexico.
A steady stream of honors has followed in the wake of Willard's prolific literary production, including a Hopwood Award (1958); a Devins Memorial Award (1967); Lewis Carroll Shelf awards (1977 and 1979) for the "Anatole" collections, Sailing to Cythera and The Island of the Grass King; and the prestigious Newbery Medal and Caldecott Honor Book awards (1982) for A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers. This book also received a Special Honor Book Plaque from the Society of Children's Book Writers (1981) and was nominated for an American Book Award.
This inn belongs to William Blake and many are the beasts he's tamed . . .
Married to photographer Eric Lindbloom, Willard lives with her husband and son in Poughkeepsie, New York, where she teaches creative writing at Vassar College.