Elizabeth Yates (author)

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Elizabeth Yates
Born(1905-12-06)December 6, 1905
Buffalo, New York[1][better source needed]
DiedJuly 29, 2001(2001-07-29) (aged 95)
Concord, New Hampshire, US[1][better source needed]
GenreChildren's literature
Notable worksAmos Fortune, Free Man
Notable awardsNewbery Medal
SpouseWilliam McGreal

Elizabeth Yates McGreal (December 6, 1905 – July 29, 2001) was an American writer. She may be known best for the biographical novel Amos Fortune, Free Man, winner of the 1951 Newbery Medal. She had been a Newbery runner-up in 1944 for Mountain Born. She began her writing career as a journalist, contributing travel articles to The Christian Science Monitor and The New York Times, for instance.[2] Many of her books were illustrated by the British artist Nora S. Unwin.[2]

Yates wrote a three-volume autobiography: My Diary – My World (1981), My Widening World (1983), and One Writer's Way (1984).[citation needed]

Early years and education[edit]

Elizabeth Yates was born in Buffalo, New York, the daughter of Harry and Mary Duffy Yates. She was the sixth of seven children.[3][self-published source?][4] Her father owned a farm, and Yates recalled that "there were horses, cows, chickens and pigs, dogs always. When we were very small each one of us had some plot of ground that was ours to plant and crop."[5][third-party source needed] Her love of animals and the land stems from these childhood experiences.

She attended Franklin School, graduating in 1924. Yates then spent a year at Oaksmere, a private school near New York City, founded by mathematician Winifred Edgerton Merrill.[1][better source needed] Yates looked back on her school days with fondness. Yates reminiscences: "I know how much I look back on my teachers now, with a heart almost aching with gratitude for all they gave me, and not a little remorse for all the trouble I gave them...the teachers I think of with most gratitude are the teachers who made books real to me."[6][self-published source?]

Books were an important part of her life. Yates credited her mother for instilling in her a love for books by reading aloud to the family.[5][third-party source needed] At the age of 12, at the request of her father, Yates read through the whole Bible. This was to become one of her favorite books. Her sister also encouraged her to read, and made a list of recommended books for Elizabeth.[7][self-published source?]

From an early age, Yates enjoyed writing. In her childhood, she transformed an unused pigeon loft on the family farm into a secret writing place.[8][third-party source needed]


After her schooling was finished, she moved to Manhattan and began writing book reviews and other newspaper articles. In 1929, she married William McGreal and the couple moved to England, where they lived for the next 10 years. In 1938, her first book, High Holiday, was published by London publishing company A & C Black.[1][better source needed]

The couple returned to the United States in 1939, and settled in Peterborough, New Hampshire. They bought a farm, and a discovery of old artwork during the restoration of the farmhouse prompted Yates to write Patterns on the Wall.[1][better source needed] Personal experience formed the basis of many of Yates' novels. Her passion for the land led her to write The Road Through Sandwich Notch, a book which was influential in preserving that portion of New Hampshire for inclusion in the White Mountain National Forest.[9][self-published source?]

Yates conducted writer's workshops at the University of New Hampshire, the University of Connecticut, and Indiana University.[10] She also served as the Director of the New Hampshire Association for the Blind.[10]

Yates was widowed in 1963.[1][better source needed]


In 1943, Patterns on the Wall received the Herald Tribune Award.[11] Yates' novel, Amos Fortune, Free Man, received the Newbery Medal, the inaugural William Allen White Children's Book Award,[12] and the Herald Tribune Award.[10] Mountain Born received a Newbery Honor in 1944, while in 1955 Rainbow Round the World received the Jane Addams Children's Book Award from the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.[10]

In 1970, she was given the Sarah Josepha Hale Award "in recognition of a distinguished body of work in the field of literature and letters".[13]

In the 1990s, the New Hampshire Association for the Blind began the William and Elizabeth Yates McGreal Society.[14] Yates had been a previous President of the Board,[15] while her husband was the Association's first Executive Director.[14]

In 1994, the Concord, New Hampshire Public Library created the Elizabeth Yates Award in her honor. This award is given annually to an individual who is "actively engaged in inspiring young people to read".[This quote needs a citation]

Elizabeth Yates' books have been described as "the result of extensive research, a strong underlying belief in God, and a vivid imagination."[16][self-published source?][page needed]

List of works[edit]

  • High Holiday, London: A.C. Black, 1938
  • Climbing Higher, an Iceland Adventure, London: A.C. Black, 1938
  • Hans and Frieda in the Swiss Mountains, Wide World storybook series, New York: Thomas Nelson, 1939
  • Haven for the Brave, New York: Knopf, 1941
  • Around the Year in Iceland (illustrated by Jon Nielson), Boston: Heath, 1942 (New World Neighbors)
  • Under the Little Fir, and other stories (illustrated by Nora S. Unwin) New York: Coward–McCann, 1942
  • Patterns on the Wall, New York: Knopf, 1943. Rpt. as The Journeyman, South Carolina: JourneyForth, 1990
  • Mountain Born (illustrated by Nora S. Unwin), New York: Coward–McCann, 1943
  • Wind of Spring, New York: Coward–McCann, 1945
  • Nearby, New York: Coward–McCann, 1947
  • Beloved Bondage, New York: Coward–McCann, 1948
  • Amos Fortune, Free Man New York: Aladdin, 1950
  • Brave Interval, New York: Coward–McCann, 1952
  • Prudence Crandall: Woman of Courage, Boyds Mills Press, 1955.
  • Pebble in a Pool: The Widening Circle of Dorothy Canfield Fisher's Life New York: Dutton, 1958
  • The Road Through Sandwich Notch, Stephen Greene Press, 1973, (Illustrated by Nora Spicer Unwin).
  • The Lighted Heart (Illustrated by Nora S. Unwin), New York: Dutton, 1960; Dublin, NH: William L. Bauhan, 1974
  • The Next Fine Day, (illustrated by Nora S. Unwin), New York: The John Day Company, 1962
  • Howard Thurman: Portrait of a Practical Dreamer, New York: The John Day Company, 1964
  • Is There a Doctor in the Barn: A Day in the Life of Forrest F. Tenney, Veterinarian, New York: Dutton, 1966; Dublin, NH: William L. Bauhan, 1977
  • With Pipe, Paddle and Song: A Story of the French-Canadian Voyageurs circa 1750 (Illustrated by Nora S. Unwin), New York: Dutton, 1968
  • Skeezer: Dog With a Mission, New York: Harvey House, 1973 (made into a 1983 film)[citation needed]
  • Autobiography:
    • My Diary – My World, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1981
    • My Widening World, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1983
    • One Writer's Way, Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1984
  • Sound Friendships; the story of Willa and her hearing ear dog, Woodstock,VT: The Countryman Press, 1987
  • Spanning Time: A diary keeper becomes a writer Carolyn P. Yoder, ed., Peterbourough, NH: Cobblestone Pub., 1996
  • Open the Door; a gathering of poems and prose pieces, Hopkinton, NH: New Hampshire Antiquarian Society, 1999

"Someday You'll Write", New York: E.P. Dutton & Co, 1962, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 62-14706

Compiled or edited[edit]

  • Gathered Grace, a short selection of G. MacDonald's Poems, Cambridge: W. Heffer and Sons, 1938
  • Enys Tregarthen, Piskey Folk: A Book of Cornish Legends, New York: Day, 1940
  • Enys Tregarthen, The Doll Who Came Alive, New York: Day, 1940
  • Joseph, the King James version of a well-loved tale, New York: Knopf, 1947
  • Enys Tregarthen, The White Ring, New York: Harcourt, 1949
  • The Christmas Story, New York: Alladin, 1949
  • Your Prayers and Mine, Boston: Houghton, 1954
  • George MacDonald, Sir Gibbie, New York: Dutton, 1963

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Yates, Elizabeth & Gotlieb Ctr. Staff (March 18, 2007). "Yates, Elizabeth / 1905–2001 [archive biosketch]". Boston, MA: Boston University, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center. Archived from the original on March 18, 2007. Retrieved March 15, 2017.[better source needed]
  2. ^ a b Saxon, Wolfgang (August 2, 2001). "Elizabeth Yates, 95, Author Of Noted Children's Books". The New York Times. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  3. ^ Margaret Trudell, Elizabeth Yates: A Biography and Bibliography of Her Works (Authorhouse, 2003), p. 1.[self-published source?]
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-01. Retrieved 2010-03-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b Yates, Elizabeth. Brave Interval. p. [end matter].[third-party source needed]
  6. ^ Trudell, p. 6.[self-published source?]
  7. ^ Trudell, pp. 2–3.[self-published source?]
  8. ^ Yates, Elizabeth; Unwin, Nora S. (illustr.) (1968). With Pipe, Paddle and Song: A Story of the French-Canadian Voyageurs circa 1750. New York: E. P. Dutton. p. [end matter].CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)[third-party source needed]
  9. ^ Trudell, p. 33.[self-published source?]
  10. ^ a b c d Yates, Elizabeth and Sophia Smith Collection Staff (April 2008). "Elizabeth Yates Papers, 1829-1964 [archive biosketch]". Northampton, MA: Five Colleges Archives & Manuscript Collections, Smith College, Sophia Smith Collection. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  11. ^ Telegraph Staff (June 2, 1976). "Nashua Writers DInner to Feature Noted Author". Nashua Telegraph. Nashua, NH: 24. Retrieved March 15, 2017 – via google.com/newspapers.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2010-03-03.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-04-18. Retrieved 2010-03-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-06-17. Retrieved 2010-03-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ Telegraph Staff (April 28, 1978). "Rivier Graduates to Hear Author Elizabeth Yates". Nashua Telegraph. Nashua, NH: 21. Retrieved March 15, 2017 – via google.com/newspapers.
  16. ^ Bloom, Jan (2001). Who Should We Then Read?. Cokato, MN: BooksBloom.[self-published source?][full citation needed]

Further reading[edit]

  • Alberghene, Janice M. (1986). "Diary of a Dream: Triumph of the Creative Spirit of Elizabeth Yates". In Butler, Francelia Butler & Rotert, Richard. Triumphs of the Spirit in Children's Literature location - Hamden, CT. Library Professional Publications.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)

External links[edit]