Donald J. Sobol

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Donald J. Sobol
Born(1924-10-04)October 4, 1924
New York City, New York
DiedJuly 11, 2012(2012-07-11) (aged 87)
Miami, Florida
GenreJuvenile Mystery Fiction
Notable worksEncyclopedia Brown
SpouseRose Tiplitz

Donald J. Sobol (October 4, 1924 – July 11, 2012) was an American writer best known for his children's books,[1] especially the Encyclopedia Brown mystery series.

Early life and education[edit]

Donald Sobol was born in The Bronx, New York City, New York, to Ira J. and Ida (Gelula) Sobol. Ira Sobol owned a few gas stations that eventually were sold.[2] Donald attended the NYC Ethical Culture Fieldston School and graduated in 1942.

He served with the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II in the Pacific Theater. Following the war, he attended Oberlin College, where he earned a bachelor's degree. He also attended the New School of Social Research.


Sobol's career began as a copy boy for the New York Sun, and he eventually worked his way up to reporter. In 1949, he started work at the Daily News and remained there for two years. After a brief stint as a buyer at Macy's in New York, he moved to Florida and started writing full-time.[3]

He started writing the syndicated series Two-Minute Mysteries in 1959, starring criminologist Dr. Haledjian. It proved very popular and ran for more than ten years. In 1963, he started writing the Encyclopedia Brown series, featuring Leroy "Encyclopedia" Brown, a schoolboy that was an amateur sleuth. Compared with the Two-Minute Mysteries series, which features crimes as serious as murder, the Encyclopedia Brown books are more juvenile-oriented, often dealing with matters such as pranks or petty theft. Sobol's Encyclopedia Brown titles have never been out of print and have been translated into twelve languages. Sobol was rejected two dozen times before his first Encyclopedia Brown book was published.[4][2]

In 1975, the Mystery Writers of America honored Sobol and his Encyclopedia Brown series with a Special Edgar Award. The last book in the series penned by Sobol, Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Soccer Scheme, was published in October 2012, three months after the author's death.[2]

Sobol wrote the children's novel Secret Agents Four, in which a group of Miami teenagers attempt to thwart foreign saboteurs. Sobol also penned the non-fiction book True Sea Adventures, published in 1975.[5]

Sobol wrote more than 65 books. In addition to the books he wrote for children, Sobol also wrote a number of nonfiction books on topics ranging from US civil war history[6] to investing. He also wrote and contributed to magazines under a variety of pen names. His manuscripts are stored at the University of Minnesota, in the Kerlan Collection.

Personal life and final years[edit]

Sobol was married to Rose (née Tiplitz) who was both an engineer and author.[7] Sobol left behind three children: John, Eric and Diane as well as four grandchildren.[7] A fourth child, Glen, died at age 23 in a car accident in 1983.[2]

On July 11, 2012,[7] Sobol died from gastric lymphoma at the age of 87.[2]

Selected bibliography[edit]

Encyclopedia Brown series[edit]

The Encyclopedia Brown books, in order of publication (parentheses indicate numbers on original release cover art):

  1. (1) Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective (1963, ISBN 0-525-67200-1, 1982 reissue ISBN 0-553-15724-8)
  2. (2) Encyclopedia Brown Strikes Again (1965, ISBN 0-590-01650-4, reissued as Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret Pitch, ISBN 0-525-67202-8)
  3. (3) Encyclopedia Brown Finds the Clues (1966, ISBN 0-525-67204-4)
  4. (4) Encyclopedia Brown Gets His Man (1967, ISBN 0-525-67206-0)
  5. (5) Encyclopedia Brown Solves Them All (1968, ISBN 0-525-67212-5)
  6. (6) Encyclopedia Brown Keeps the Peace (1969, ISBN 0-525-67208-7)
  7. (7) Encyclopedia Brown Saves the Day (1970, ISBN 0-525-67210-9)
  8. (8) Encyclopedia Brown Tracks Them Down (1971, ISBN 0-553-15721-3)
  9. (9) Encyclopedia Brown Shows the Way (1972, ISBN 0170057828)
  10. (10) Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Case (1973, ISBN 0-553-15723-X)
  11. (11) Encyclopedia Brown Lends a Hand (1974, ISBN 0-553-48133-9, reissued as Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Exploding Plumbing and Other Mysteries, ISBN 0-590-44093-4)
  12. (12) Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Dead Eagles (1975, ISBN 0-590-43343-1)
  13. (13) Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Midnight Visitor (1977, ISBN 0-553-15586-5)
  14. (14) Encyclopedia Brown Carries On (1980, ISBN 0-02-786190-2)
  15. (15) Encyclopedia Brown Sets the Pace (1981, ISBN 0-02-786200-3)
  16. (15½) Encyclopedia Brown Takes the Cake (co-written with Glenn Andrews, 1982, ISBN 0-590-07843-7)
  17. (16) Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Mysterious Handprints (1985, ISBN 0-553-15739-6)
  18. (17) Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Treasure Hunt (1988, ISBN 0-553-15650-0)
  19. (18) Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Disgusting Sneakers (1990, ISBN 0-688-09012-5)
  20. (19) Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Two Spies (1995, ISBN 0-385-32036-1)
  21. (20) Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of Pablo's Nose (1996, ISBN 0-385-32184-8)
  22. (21) Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Sleeping Dog (1998, ISBN 0-385-32576-2)
  23. (22) Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Slippery Salamander (2000, ISBN 0-385-32579-7)
  24. (23) Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Jumping Frogs (2003, ISBN 0-385-72931-6)
  25. (24) Encyclopedia Brown Cracks the Case (2007, ISBN 978-0-525-47924-6)
  26. (25) Encyclopedia Brown, Super Sleuth (2009, ISBN 978-0-525-42100-9)
  27. (26) Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Secret UFOs (2010, ISBN 978-0-525-42210-5)
  28. (27) Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Carnival Crime (2011, ISBN 978-0-525-42211-2)
  29. (28) Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Soccer Scheme (2012, ISBN 978-0-525-42582-3)


  1. ^ "Donald J. Sobol". Retrieved March 30, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e Grady, Denise (16 July 2012). "Donald J. Sobol, Creator of Encyclopedia Brown, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  3. ^ "Juvenile Books Author of the Month: Donald J. Sobol". Greenville Public Library. Archived from the original on 2010-12-03. Retrieved March 30, 2010.
  4. ^ "PASSINGS: Jon Lord, Donald J. Sobol, Barton Biggs, Richard B. Scudder". Los Angeles Times. 2012-07-17. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  5. ^ Sobol, Donald J. (1975-12-01). True sea adventures. T. Nelson. ISBN 9780840764546.
  6. ^ Sobol, Donald J. (1960-01-01). Two Flags Flying. Platt & Munk.
  7. ^ a b c Shapiro, T. Rees (2012-07-16). "Donald J. Sobol dies: Author wrote popular 'Encylopedia [sic] Brown' series". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-03-04.

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