Louise Seaman Bechtel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Louise Seaman Bechtel
Born Louise Seaman
June 29, 1894[1]
Brooklyn, New York
Died April 12, 1985
Mount Kisco, New York
Education Vassar College
Occupation Editor, critic, author, teacher
Spouse(s) Edwin DeTurck Bechtel

Louise Seaman Bechtel (1894 – April 12, 1985)[2] was an American editor, critic, author, and teacher of young children.


Bechtel graduated from Vassar College in 1915 and was the first person to head a juvenile book department established by an American publishing house.[3] During her fifteen-year tenure as managing editor at the Macmillan Company (1919–1934), she oversaw production of more than 600 new books, a milestone in the growth and development of American literature for children.

Bechtel resigned from Macmillan Company in 1934 because of a broken hip, but continued her involvement in the field of children's literature. Between 1949 and 1956, she was editor of the "Books for Young People" section of the New York Herald Tribune.

Three of the books she published, The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly in 1929, Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field in 1930, and The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth in 1931, were awarded the Newbery Medal. As an author, Bechtel's best-known books are The Brave Bantam[4] in 1946, and Mr. Peck's Pets[5] in 1947.

During her long career, Bechtel acquired an incomparable collection of children's books. Later donated to Vassar College and the University of Florida in Gainesville), it exceeded 3,500 volumes, among them rare folk tales, Asian and African legends, Greek mythology, Aesop's fables, tales from Shakespeare, and early twentieth century children's book illustrators such as Arthur Rackham, Kate Greenaway, and Boris Artzybasheff.

Personal life and death[edit]

Bechtel married to Edwin DeTurck Bechtel, an attorney, art collector, and authority about and scholar of rose culture.

Louise Seaman Bechtel is buried at Saint Matthew's Episcopal Churchyard in Bedford, New York.

The Bechtel Prize[edit]

The Bechtel Prize, named for her, is endowed by the Cerimon Fund and administered by Teachers & Writers Collaborative in New York. The Prize is awarded annually in recognition of an exemplary article or essay related to creative writing education, literary studies, and/or the profession of writing.

The winning essay appears in Teachers & Writers magazine, and the author receives a $1,000 honorarium.[6] Possible topics for Bechtel Prize submissions include contemporary issues in classroom teaching, innovative approaches to teaching literary forms and genres, and the intersection between literature and imaginative writing.

In the spring of 2014, Teachers & Writers announced it was suspending the Bechtel Prize until further notice.[7]

Bechtel Prize winners and finalists[edit]

winner in bold.


  • Mary Cappello for "Can Creative Writing Be Taught?"
  • Sam Swope for "The Tree Project"


  • Diane LeBlanc for "Weaving Voices: Writing as a Working Class Daughter, Professor, and Poet"


  • Sarah Porter for “‘The Pen Has Become the Character’: How Creative Writing Creates Us”
  • Sarah Dohrmann for “Teenage Boy Gunned Down”
  • Douglas Goetsch for “A Poetry Stand”
  • Louise Hawes for “Thou Shalt Not Tell... or Shalt Thou? A Reconsideration of the First Commandment for Writers”
  • Chris Malcomb for “Broken Lines”


  • Anna Sopko for “Writing Standards”
  • Sarah J. Gardner for “Three Writers, Imagination, and Meaning”
  • Jeff Kass for “In Search of a True Word”
  • Cheryl Pallant for “Gifting Poems: Getting Students to Read Poetry Closely”
  • Barbara Roether for “Pride and Prejudice on the Barbary Coast”


  • Michael Bazzett for “Within Words”
  • Cathlin Goulding for “When Twilight Falls: How Documentary Poetry Responds to Social Injustice”
  • David Herring for “A Classroom for Old Men: Aging Among Poems and Teenagers”


  • Emily Raboteau for “Jazz Poetry”
  • Marcia Chamberlain for “When You Listen Deeply”
  • Garth Greenwell for “Reading with the Voice”

2010 (judged by Phillip Lopate)[edit]

  • Garth Greenwell for “A Native Music: Writing the City in Sofia, Bulgaria”
  • Wilson Diehl for “Getting Creative with the Truth”
  • Barbara Feinberg for “Your First Lime”

2011 (judged by Patricia Hampl)[edit]

  • Janet L. Bland for "The Possum"
  • Julia Shipley for "Writing from the Ox House"
  • Jane Elkington Wohl for "On Teaching Othello Again"

2012 (judged by Jo Ann Beard)[edit]

  • Barbara Flug Colin for "Now Let’s Stare at the Purple"

2013 (judged by Susan Orlean)[edit]

  • Chris Belden for “Inside Words: How to Teach Writing in Prison"
  • Eileen Shields for "The Literature of Lockdown"

The Louise Seaman Bechtel Fellowship at the Baldwin Library[edit]

The Bechtel Fellowship, awarded by the Association of Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, awards a mid-career librarian, with a minimum of eight years experience working with children, $4,000 to spend a month reading and studying at the Baldwin library at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida.


  1. ^ Eddy, Jacalyn (2006). Bookwomen: Creating an Empire in Children’s Book Publishing, 1919-1939 (PDF). Madison, Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press. p. 73. ISBN 978-0-299-21794-5. Retrieved 7 August 2016. 
  2. ^ "Louise Seaman Bechtel Dies; Authority on Juvenile Books," New York Times (Apr. 13, 1985).
  3. ^ Archives and Special Collections Library of Vassar College.
  4. ^ The Brave Bantam, OpenLibrary.org.
  5. ^ Mr. Peck's Pets, OpenLibrary.org.
  6. ^ "Bechtel Prize," Poets & Writers website. Accessed May 29, 2014.
  7. ^ "BECHTEL PRIZE NEWS," Teachers & Writers Collaborative website. Accessed May 29, 2014.

External links[edit]