Jean Fritz

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Jean Fritz
BornJean Guttery
(1915-11-16)November 16, 1915
Hankow, China
DiedMay 14, 2017(2017-05-14) (aged 101)
Sleepy Hollow, New York, U.S.
Alma materWheaton College
GenreChildren's novels, biography, memoir
SubjectAmerican biography and history
Notable awardsLaura Ingalls Wilder Medal
SpouseMichael Fritz

Jean Guttery Fritz (November 16, 1915 – May 14, 2017) was an American children's writer best known for American biography and history. She won the Children's Legacy Literature Award for her career contribution to American children's literature in 1986.[1] She turned 100 in November 2015[2] and died in May 2017 at the age of 101.[3]

Early life[edit]

Fritz was born to American Presbyterian missionaries Arthur Minton Guttery and the former Myrtle Chaney in Hankow, China, where she lived until she was twelve.[4][3] Growing up, she attended a British school and kept a journal about her days in China with her amah, Lin Nai-Nai. The family emigrated to the United States when she was in eighth grade.[5]

She graduated from Wheaton College in Massachusetts in 1937 and married Michael Fritz in 1941. They had two children, David and Andrea.[6]


Fritz's writing career started with the publication of several short stories in Humpty Dumpty magazine early in the 1950s. Her first book, Bunny Hopwell's First Spring, was published in 1954 and followed in 1955 by 121 Pudding Street, a work based on her own children.[7] She often wrote westerns and other stories of frontier America because Arthur told her stories of American heroes as she was growing up. Her first historical novel for children was The Cabin Faced West (1958). Her autobiography, Homesick, My Own Story (1982), won a National Book Award for Young People's Literature in the Children's Fiction category[8] and was a runner-up for the Newbery Medal.[9]

The latter American Library Association award recognizes the year's best American children's book but almost always goes to fiction.[9] Later, Fritz won two annual Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards for children's nonfiction.[10][a] In 1986, she received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the ALA, which recognizes a living author or illustrator, whose books, published in the United States, have made "a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children". At the time it was awarded every three years.[1] That year she was also U.S. nominee for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international recognition available to creators of children's books.[11]

Selected awards[edit]

New York Times outstanding book of the year citations:[6]

  • 1973 – And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?
  • 1974 – Why Don't You Get a Horse, Sam Adams?
  • 1975 – Where Was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May?
  • 1976 – What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin?
  • 1981 – Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold
  • 1982 – Homesick, My Own Story
  • 1983 – Newbery Honor Award, National Book Award, and Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor book, all for Homesick: My Own Story.[6]
  • 1989 – Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, Orbis Pictus Award, National Council of English Teachers, for 1986 The Great Little Madison (1986)[6]



  • Homesick: My Own Story, illustrated with drawings by Margot Tomes and photographs (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1982); ISBN 0399209336[a]
  • China Homecoming, photographs by Michael Fritz (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1985); ISBN 0399211829
  • Surprising Myself, photographs by Andrea Fritz Pfleger (Katonah, New York: R.C. Owen Publishers, 1992); ISBN 1878450379


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Fritz was a runner-up for a Boston Globe–Horn Book Award four times from 1974 to 1983, three times in the Nonfiction category and in Fiction for the autobiographical Homesick. She won the Nonfiction Award in 1984 for The Double Life of Pocahontas and in 1990 for The Great Little Madison—the second person to win any of the three annual awards twice.


  1. ^ a b "Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, Past winners". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). American Library Association (ALA).
      "About the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award". ALSC. ALA. Retrieved 2013-06-11.
  2. ^ Scales, Pat (2015-11-16). "Saying Thank You to Jean Fritz, Again!". Booklist. American Library Association. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  3. ^ a b Fox, Margalit (May 17, 2017). "Jean Fritz, Who Wrote History Books for Children, Dies at 101". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  4. ^ "Meet the Author: Jean Fritz" Archived 2018-07-09 at the Wayback Machine.; accessed April 30, 2017.
  5. ^ "Jean Fritz". National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  6. ^ a b c d "Jean Fritz: History Made Interesting!". Retrieved 2017-05-18.
  7. ^ The Continuum Encyclopedia of Children's Literature, Bernice E. Cullinan, Diane G. Person, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005; ISBN 0-8264-1778-7.
  8. ^ "National Book Awards – 1983". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
  9. ^ a b "Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922–Present". ALSC. ALA.
      "The John Newbery Medal". ALSC. ALA. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  10. ^ a b c "Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards Winners and Honor Books 1967 to present". The Horn Book. Archived from the original on 2012-12-14. Retrieved 2013-03-09.
  11. ^ "Candidates for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 1956–2002" Archived 2013-01-14 at The Hans Christian Andersen Awards, 1956–2002. IBBY. Gyldendal (2002), pp. 110–18. Hosted by Austrian Literature Online (; retrieved 2013-07-22.


External links[edit]