Jennifer Carolyn Robin McKinley was born on November 16, 1952, in Warren, Ohio. Her mother was a teacher and her father a sailor in the U.S. Navy and Merchant Marine. McKinley caught the travel bug as a young child, adapting to life in a navy family that never settled in one place for more than two years.
McKinley attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, from 1970 to 1972, and in 1975 received her bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. After graduating, she taught secondary school, worked in a bookstore, and did editorial work for a publisher. In 1981 she moved to a horse farm in Massachusetts, where she indulged in a pleasurable combination of physical exertion in working with horses and imaginative endeavor in writing fiction. She currently lives in Maine, surrounded by her huge book collection.
McKinley's fiction for young adults reflects her interest in fairy tales and folklore. Her first novel, Beauty, retells the traditional fable of "Beauty and the Beast." It was highly praised by reviewers and selected for the "Best of the Year List" by Horn Book magazine in 1978, establishing McKinley as a promising young writer of fantasy. Her subsequent novels and short stories have all been fantasies, some original and others creative reworkings of old tales. The Hero and the Crown was named an American Library Association Notable Book in 1984 and received the 1985 Newbery Medal.
(The entire section is 227 words.)