Natalie Babbitt

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(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Natalie Zane Moore was born on July 28, 1932, in Dayton, Ohio. Her ancestors on both sides came to North America in the 1600s and two of them—Isaac Zane, called the White Eagle of the Wyandottes, and Zebulon Pike, the discoverer of Pike's Peak—were pioneers and explorers of some renown. Others among her ancestors founded towns throughout West Virginia and Ohio.

Babbitt's father, Ralph Moore, worked as a labor relations specialist, but, due to the Great Depression and to his wife Genevieve's ambitions for the family, he switched jobs frequently throughout the 1930s and 1940s. The author has emphasized how these moves from one Ohio city to another influenced her personality and her later writing. She tends to write stories about young people who, for one reason or another, are lost or separated from home.

In 1954, soon after graduating from Smith College with a degree in art, Natalie Moore married Samuel Babbitt, who became a successful university administrator, holding positions at Yale, Vanderbilt, Kirkland College (where he was president), and Brown. She settled into the routine of a university administrator's wife, hostessing parties and raising three children. Babbitt soon became frustrated and bored with this life, however. In 1964 after reading Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, she began to pursue a long dormant desire to be an artist. In 1966 she and her husband published The Forty-Ninth Magician, a book written by him and featuring her illustrations. Babbitt followed this success with two more wellreceived picture books, Dick Foote and the Shark (1967) and Phoebe's Revolt (1968), for which she provided both text and illustrations. She then published her first children's novel, The Search for Delicious (1969), which was selected by the New York Times as the best novel of the year for nine to twelve-year-olds.

Babbitt has said that she does not consider herself a professional writer, by which she means that she does not write primarily for the money. This relative financial independence has allowed her to craft, slowly and carefully, a series of fine works for older children and young adults. Kneeknock Rise (1970) was a Newbery Honor Book. The Devil's Storybook (1974) was nominated for the National Book Award. Tuck Everlasting (1975) won the Christopher Award; and her life's work in children's literature earned her the George G. Stone Award in 1978. In 1982 Babbitt's personal favorite among all her works, Herbert Rowbarge, appeared, and in 1987 she published The Devil's Other Storybook, a sequel to her earlier, award-nominated collection.

Babbitt and her husband currently divide their time between homes in Providence, Rhode Island, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Most of her books remain in print.


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Natalie Zane Moore...

(The entire section is 865 words.)