Jan Wahl

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Jan Wahl
Jan Wahl.jpg
Jan Boyer Wahl
Born Jan Boyer Wahl
(1933-04-01) April 1, 1933 (age 84)
Columbus, Ohio
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Michigan
Occupation Children's writer

Jan Boyer Wahl (born April 1, 1933) is a prolific author of over 100 works, known primarily for his award-winning children's books, including Pleasant Fieldmouse and Humphrey's Bear. Wahl sometimes refers to himself as "Dr. Mouse," a nickname given him by a young fan.

Jan (pronounced "Yahn") Wahl was born in Columbus, Ohio. His father was physician Russell Rothenberger, and his mother was Nina Marie Boyer Wahl. He has five brothers. Wahl has revealed that his late brother, Phil Wahl, then manager of the Augusta Golf Club, was the real-life inspiration for the character played by Bill Murray in the film Lost In Translation (2003), directed by Sofia Coppola. Another brother, Robert C. Wahl, has also authored novels and children's books.

Jan Wahl received a B.A. from Cornell University in 1953, then went on to graduate studies at the University of Copenhagen (Fulbright scholar, 1953-1954) and the University of Michigan (M.A., 1958). On March 15, 1996, Bowling Green State University awarded Wahl the honorary degree Doctor of Letters in recognition of his continuing work in children's literature and in the history of film.[1]

Wahl is also well known as a film historian and collector of films and film history related artifacts. Since 1997 he has presented introductory lectures for the Sunday Classic Film Series at the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Film Theater and Museum at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, with over one hundred presentations to his credit. Most of the programs have consisted of films from his private collection.

Wahl's career has been both varied and adventurous. Included among his exploits is spending several months working with noted filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer during the filming of Ordet (The Word). Later he was the personal secretary to Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen);[1] and was also involved with Keith Lampe in the early days of the Yippies. He befriended actress Louise Brooks and some of their correspondence was collected in the volume Dear Stinkpot: Letters from Louise Brooks. In addition, he was an on-set script doctor (uncredited) for The Wrath of God (1972) starring Robert Mitchum and Rita Hayworth during its filming in Mexico; and was an early consultant on what became Fraggle Rock.[citation needed]

Selected works[edit]

Note: Many of Wahl's books have been reprinted, some multiple times.


  • Avery Hopwood Prize in Fiction, University of Michigan (1955) [2]
  • Young Critic's Award, Bologna International Children's Book Fair for Pocahontas in London (1969)[2]
  • Ohioana Book Award for The Norman Rockwell Storybook(1970)[2]
  • Parents' Choice Literary Award for Tiger Watch(1987) [2]
  • Ohioana Book Award for Humphrey's Bear(1987)[2]
  • Redbook Award for Humphrey's Bear(1987)[2]
  • Christopher Medal for Humphrey's Bear(1987)[2]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Steen, Nancy. "MS 69 - Jan Wahl Collection," Bowling Green State University Library Finding Aids Accessed July 7, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Jan Wahl." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2012. Literature Resource Center. Web. 7 July 2014.