Sterling North was born on a farm overlooking Lake Koshkonong In Edgerton, Wisconsin, on November 4, 1906, to David and Elizabeth Nelson North. His mother was a gifted linguist and biologist, and his father was an amateur naturalist and a specialist on Native American culture. In 1913 North's mother died; but his memory of her and his sense of loss at her death emerge as constant influences in his writing. On June 23, 1927, North married Gladys Dolores Buchanan while a student at the University of Chicago, where he developed his literary skill as editor of the campus literary magazine. In 1929 he graduated with a bachelor of arts degree.
Between 1929 and 1956, North was a reporter and literary editor for newspapers and periodicals. He joined Houghton Mifflin to edit the North Star Books, a series of history books for children and young adults. After completing this project, he devoted himself to his own writing. North died in Morristown, New Jersey, on December 22, 1974.
North's first significant publication was a volume of poetry published by the University of Chicago Press in 1925; he was nineteen years old. In 1929 his concern with values and with education surfaced in The Pedro Gorino, a sea story that initiated his career as a writer of fiction. Throughout his career, North received praise and awards for his works of poetry and prose, most of which were children's books. The public recognized him as a writer whose belief in basic moral principles shaped his craft. North won his most notable awards for Rascal: A Memoir of a Better Era, which received the 1963 Dutton Animal Book Award and a 1964 Newbery Honor Book citation.
Although best remembered for his nature books for young children and young adults, Sterling North also wrote a number of biographies of American literary and historical figures that added to his reputation as one of the most popular twentieth-century writers for young adults. He was born on November 4, 1906, on a small farm overlooking Lake Koshkonong, near Edgerton, Wisconsin. North first found literary fame through his poetry, which he sold to literary magazines throughout his high school and college years. After graduating from the University of Chicago in 1929, North worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News. In 1932 he became the newspaper's literary editor, a position he later held at the New York Post and at the New York World Telegram and Sun. In 1957 he accepted a post with Houghton Mifflin, his primary publisher, as editor of North Star Books, a series of historical books for children. Sole author of twenty-six novels, biographies, and children's books, North edited over twenty other books and anthologies as well. He also contributed poems, articles, and stories to a variety of national publications, including the Atlantic, Harper's, Poetry, and the Nation.
Critical acclaim for North's work has centered on its appeal to all generations. This is especially true in the case of North's most famous works, Rascal: A Memoir of a Better Era and Raccoons Are the Brightest People, both set near the author's rural home in New Jersey. Rascal was a Newbery Medal runner-up in 1964 and received the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award and the Dutton Animal Book Award. The Wolfling also won a Dutton Animal Book Award. Sterling North died in Morristown, New Jersey, on December 22, 1974, after a series of strokes.