|Born||Jennifer Carolyn Robin McKinley
16 November 1952
Warren, Ohio, USA
|Genres||Children's fantasy novels, Bildungsroman, fairy tales|
|Notable award(s)||Newbery Medal
World Fantasy Award
Robin McKinley (born November 16, 1952 as Jennifer Carolyn Robin McKinley) is an American author of fantasy and children's books. Her 1984 novel The Hero and the Crown won the Newbery Medal as the year's best new American children's book.
Robin McKinley was born as Jennifer Carolyn Robin McKinley on November 16, 1952 in Warren, Ohio. Her father William McKinley was an officer in the United States Navy and her mother Jeanne Turrell McKinley was a teacher. As a result of her father's changing naval posts, McKinley grew up all over the world including in California, New York, Japan, and Maine. She was educated at Gould Academy, a preparatory school in Bethel, Maine. McKinley went on to attend college, first at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1970–1972. She finished her college education at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine and graduated summa cum laude in 1975.
Robin McKinley currently lives in Hampshire, England with her husband, author Peter Dickinson; they have no children though Peter Dickinson has children from a previous relationship. They have two dogs nicknamed Chaos and Darkness. Her "obsessions" include learning how to play the piano, horseback riding, gardening, cooking, and bell ringing.
After graduating from college, she remained in Maine for several years working as a research assistant and later in a bookstore. During this time, she completed her first book, Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast. It was accepted for publication by the first publisher it was sent to and upon publication immediately pushed McKinley to prominence. The book was named an American Library Association Notable Children's Book and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults.
Robin McKinley has written a variety of novels, mostly in the fantasy genre. Several of her novels are her own personal renditions of classic fairy tales with a "feminist twist". These retellings usually feature a strong female protagonist who does not wait to be rescued but instead takes an active role in determining the course of her own life. Beauty and Rose Daughter are both versions of Beauty and the Beast, Spindle's End is the story of Sleeping Beauty, and Deerskin and two of the stories in The Door in the Hedge are based on other folk-tales. Besides adapting classic fairy tales, McKinley wrote her own rendition of the Robin Hood story in her novel The Outlaws of Sherwood.
McKinley has written two novels set in the imaginary land of Damar, The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown. Her contribution to the Imaginary Lands anthology and the stories in A Knot in the Grain are also set there. She describes herself as a "scribe" and "Damar's historian", because the stories "happen to her" and she is only responsible for writing them down. The stories of Damar have been occurring to her since before she wrote Beauty, and The Blue Sword was intended to be the first of a series about this land.
McKinley's standalone novels include Sunshine and Dragonhaven.
The heroines in McKinley's books reflect certain qualities that she saw in herself as a young woman: clumsiness, plainness, bookishness, and disinterest in the usual social games that involve flirting and dating. She has said, "I didn't discover boys because they didn't discover me, and because their standards of discovery seemed to me too odd to be aspired to. They were the ones who got to have adventures, while we got to—well, not have adventures."
McKinley says she writes about strong heroines because she feels very strongly about the potential for girls to be "doing things", and she feels that the selection of fantasy literature featuring girls is scarce and unsatisfactory. According to biographer Marilyn H. Karrenbrock, "McKinley's females do not simper; they do not betray their own nature to win a man's approval. But neither do they take love lightly or put their own desires before anything else. In McKinley's books, the romance, like the adventure, is based upon ideals of faithfulness, duty, and honor."
- 1983 Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword.
- 1985 Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown.
- 1986 World Fantasy Award for Anthology/Collection for Imaginary Lands, as editor.
- 1998 Phoenix Award Honor Book for Beauty.
- 2004 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature for Sunshine.
- Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast (1978)
- The Door in the Hedge (1981)
- The Blue Sword (1982)
- The Hero and the Crown (1985)
- The Outlaws of Sherwood (1988)
- Deerskin (1993)
- Rose Daughter (1997)
- Spindle's End (2000)
- Sunshine (2003)
- Dragonhaven (2007)
- Chalice (2008)
- Pegasus (2010)
- Shadows (2013)
- Ebon (forthcoming 2014), sequel to Pegasus
- Kes A self published serial novel that updates weekly (2012-Ongoing)
Collections and anthologies
- Imaginary Lands (1986), editor and contributor
- A Knot in the Grain (1994)
- Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits (2004), by Peter Dickinson and McKinley
- Fire: Tales of Elemental Spirits (2009), by Dickinson and McKinley
Children's picture books
- Rowan (1992)
- My Father Is in the Navy (1992)
- The Stone Fey (1998)
Selected scholarly works about McKinley
In no particular order
- Hearne, Betsy. "Beauty and the Beast: Visions and Revisions of an Old Tale: 1950–1985". Lion and the Unicorn 12.2 (Dec. 1988): 74–111. Reprint in CLR 127.
- Altmann, Anna E. "Welding Brass Tits on the Armor: An Examination of the Quest Metaphor in Robin McKinley's The Hero and the Crown". Children's Literature in Education 23.3 (Sept. 1992): 143–56. Reprint in CLR 127.
- Sackelman, Ellen R. "More Than Skin Deep: Robin McKinley's Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast". Women in Literature: Reading Through the Lens of Gender. Ed. Jerilyn Fisher and Ellen S. Silber. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2003. 32–34. Reprint in CLR 127.
- Cadden, Mike. "Home Is a Matter of Blood, Time, and Genre: Essentialism in Burnett and McKinley". ARIEL 28.1 (Jan. 1997): 53–67. Reprint in CLR 127.
- Sanders, Lynn Moss. "Girls Who Do Things: The Protagonists of Robin McKinley's Fantasy Fiction". ALAN Review 24.1 (Fall 1996): 38–42. Reprint in CLR 127.
- Cadden, Michael. "The Illusion of Control: Narrative Authority in Robin McKinley's Beauty and The Blue Sword". Mythlore 20.2 (Spring 1994): 16–19. Reprint in CLR 127.
- Maryellen, Harris. "Beauty and the Beast: 20th Century Romance?". Merveilles and Contes 3.1 (May 1989): 75–83. Reprint Children's Literature Review. Ed. Scot Peacock. Vol. 81. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Literature Resource Center. Web. 26 May 2011.
- Rutledge, Amelia A. "Robin McKinley's Deerskin: Challenging Narcissisms." Marvels and Tales: Journal of Fairy Tales Studies 15.2 (2001): 168–82. Reprint in CLR 127.
Children's Literature Review. Ed. Tom Burns. Vol. 127. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Literature Resource Center. Web. 26 May 2011.
- Robin McKinley (October 18, 2011). "the announcement you don’t want to hear". Days in the Life. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
- Robin McKinley. "Are you married? Do you have any children?". FAQ. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
- Robin McKinley. "Do you have any pets?". FAQ. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
- Robin McKinley. "What do you do with your spare time? Do you have any hobbies?". FAQ. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
- Karrenbock, Marilyn H. (1986). "(Jennifer) (Carolyn) Robin McKinley". American Writers for Children Since 1960: Fiction 52.
- "Robin McKinley". Contemporary Authors Online. Gale. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
- Robin McKinley. "When are you going to write another Damar book?". FAQ. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- Robin McKinley. "Newbery Medal Acceptance Speech. 1985.". Retrieved 27 February 2011.[dead link]
- "Award Winners & Nominees". World Fantasy Awards. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
- "The Phoenix Award" (brochure). ChLA. Retrieved 2013-11-09.
- "Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Winners". Mythopoeic Society. Retrieved 3 June 2011.
- Robin McKinley's Website
- Robin McKinley's blog
- Bibliography on SciFan
- Interviews in Sherwood - Robin McKinley on her Outlaws of Sherwood novel
- Fansite with commentary and mailing list
- Robin McKinley at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Robin McKinley cover art, novel synopses, reviews