Bradley Steffens

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Bradley Steffens (born February 10, 1955) is an American author, poet, playwright, and lyricist. The author of 28 nonfiction books for children and young adults,[1] Steffens is best known as a biographer of the medieval Islamic scholar Alhazen.[2]

Early professional work[edit]

In the mid-1970s Steffens self-published two chapbooks of his poetry,[3] which he sold on the streets of Southern California. In 1976, the City of Laguna Beach, California, denied Steffens a permit to sell his works within the city limits, touching off brouhaha in the local press.[4] Steffens went to court, seeking relief under the First Amendment, but the court ruled in favor of the city. Steffens turned to writing a series of one-act plays-in-verse, which were professionally produced as “Herod the Great: A Sequence of Pageants” by the Olympia Arts Ensemble in Minneapolis in 1981 with Michael Yonkers in the title role. Noel Bredahl of the St. Paul Post-Dispatch hailed the play as "an awesome creation on the part of the playwright.[5] David Hawley, also of the St. Paul Post Dispatch, wrote, “Steffens is a powerful, talented artist.[6]

Writing career[edit]

Steffens has published more than fifty poems over the last thirty years, receiving many awards along the way, including the Emerging Voices Award presented by The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and the Lake Superior Writing Competition Award sponsored by the Duluth Public Library. While working as a freelance proofreader for Lucent Books in 1989, Steffens wrote his first nonfiction book for children, Animal Rights. Over the next twenty years, he wrote twenty more books for children and young adults, coauthored seven, and edited the 2004 anthology The Free Speech Movement. His works have been praised by Booklist, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and Children’s Literature. The Fountain called his Ibn al-Haytham: First Scientist a “beautiful work about Ibn al-Haytham and his advancement of experimental science.”[7]

Steffens is a two-time recipient of the San Diego Book Award for Best Young Adult & Children's Nonfiction. His Giants won the 2005 award[8] and his J.K. Rowling received the 2007 prize.[9] J.K. Rowling also earned Steffens the Theodor S. Geisel Award for the best published book by a San Diego County author in 2007.[10] His Ibn al-Haytham: First Scientist was excerpted in Discovery Channel Magazine [11] in March 2010, helping to establish Steffens as a sought-after lecturer on the history of Islamic science. He was the keynote speaker at the Southeast Regional Conference of The Islamic Medical Association of North America, the Sixth Annual Meeting of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Western New York,[12] the Pacifica Institute,[13] Women in Dialogue,[14] and the San Diego Mensa Regional Gathering.


  1. ^ "Library of Congress Online Catalog: Bradley Steffens". United States Library of Congress.
  2. ^ Ruth Marvin Webster (April 8, 2007). “The Scientific Method: Escondido author brings attention to medieval Muslim scientist”. North County Times, Entertainment. p. 3.
  3. ^ Bradley Steffens, From an Eighteenth Century Painted Tile and Other Poems. San Rafael: Sack Back Publications,1975. Anonymous, From the Laguna Beach Pageant of the Masters: An Anonymous Romance of Theatric Space,and Six Anonymous Songs. San Rafael: Sack Back Publications, 1976. id=kTcGHwAACAAJ, ie=UTF8&redirect=true&condition=all
  4. ^ Janice Brownfield, Reporter vs. Publisher. Santa Ana, California: Alpenstock Publishing, 1986, pp. 46-47.
  5. ^ Noel BreDahl (April 9, 1981). “What’s playing on area stages.” St. Paul Dispatch, p. 3B.
  6. ^ David Hawley (April 6, 1981). “’Herod’ suffers from uncontrolled excess.” St. Paul Post-Dispatch, p. 14A.
  7. ^ Ertan Salik (May–June 2008). "Ibn al-Haytham: First Scientist." The Fountain.
  8. ^ Arthur Salm (May 22, 2006). “San Diego's award-winning writers”. San Diego Union Tribune.
  9. ^ Robert L. Pincus (May 25, 2008). “Steffens takes top honor at book awards bash.” San Diego Union Tribune.
  10. ^ Robert L. Pincus (May 25, 2008). “Steffens takes top honor at book awards bash.” San Diego Union Tribune.
  11. ^ Bradley Steffens (March 2010). “The Optical Scientist”. Discovery Channel Magazine, pp. 90-95.
  12. ^ Haris Tarin (May 20, 2010). “MPAC-NY Celebrates 6th Anniversary at Annual Dinner.” Muslim Public Affairs Council.
  13. ^ “Lecture Series with Author Bradley Steffens.” Pacifica Institute.
  14. ^ First Scientist (March 11, 2010). Gonna Happen.