For a writer who has sold millions of copies of her novels, S. E. (Susan Eloise) Hinton carries a very brief and unassuming biography. She was born and has spent most of her life in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is also the setting for her fiction. In her junior year of high school, her father died of cancer; that same year, at the age of seventeen, she completed the manuscript for The Outsiders (1967). She enrolled in the University of Tulsa in 1966, and the novel was published in her freshman year. She graduated in 1970 with a degree in education. She and her husband, David Inhofe, live in Tulsa, where their son, Nicholas David, was born in 1983.
While Hinton has given several interviews, she remains a private and...
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A popular young adult novelist, Hinton reuses many elements throughout her novels. Few parents appear in her novels, and the protagonists are often searching for substitutes, which they find in slightly older males; the focus is primarily on young men bonding with one another. Her plots are action-packed, and the central character usually narrates the story of his emerging self and conflicting loyalties. Both the strengths and weaknesses of the young adult genre are apparent in Hinton’s work. She has created a unique first-person voice that invites readers to share the story.
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In 1967, at the age of seventeen, S. E. Hinton published The Outsiders because, she said, “A lot of adult literature was older than I was ready for. The kids’ books were Mary Jane-Goes-to-the-Prom.” She portrayed her characters in honest, almost brutal fashion. The book was hailed by critics who felt that, as opposed to many authors, Hinton depicted adolescence not as a mindless, muddle-headed period but as a painful, dangerous time that often had an unhappy ending. Her later books included That Was Then, This Is Now (1971), Tex (1979), Rumble Fish (1977), and Taming the Star Runner (1988).
The language, violence, and realism of...
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Susan Eloise Hinton was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1948. As a teenager, she was shy and did not like to draw attention to herself, yet she did not conform to the expected pursuits of a teenage girl at that time. She was a tomboy who loved horses, and although she generally did not suffer directly from the social tension that existed between the socioeconomic classes in her town, she felt keenly the effects that such tension had on those around her.
While Hinton was in high school, her father was diagnosed with a brain tumor and was hospitalized for extended periods of time. In response, Hinton threw herself into the novel she had begun writing in order to create the type of realistic fiction she herself craved as a reader. She completed the first draft during her junior year, around the same time her father died. She then polished the work in subsequent drafts but did not consider submitting it for publication until a writer acquaintance advised her to send it to her own agent. The book was quickly accepted, and during the editorial process, Hinton graduated from high school and began attending the University of Tulsa, initially majoring in journalism and later switching to education. It was during this time that Hinton’s publisher encouraged her to use the gender-neutral initials for her byline, fearing that reviewers might dismiss a male-oriented book written by a female author.
Although it was not technically an overnight sensation,...
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