Patricia MacLachlan

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Patricia MacLachlan
National Humanities Medal Winners for 2003 (cropped).jpg
BornPatricia Marie Pritzkau
(1938-03-03)March 3, 1938
Cheyenne, Wyoming, U.S.
DiedMarch 31, 2022(2022-03-31) (aged 84)
Williamsburg, Massachusetts, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Connecticut
GenreChildren's and young-adult novels, historical fiction
Notable awardsNewbery Medal

Patricia Marie MacLachlan (née Pritzkau; March 3, 1938 – March 31, 2022) was an American children's writer. She was noted for her novel Sarah, Plain and Tall, which won the 1986 Newbery Medal.

Early life[edit]

MacLachlan was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on March 3, 1938. Her father, Philo, was a professor of philosophy of education;[1] her mother, Madonna, was an American English teacher before becoming a homemaker. Her family moved to Rochester, Minnesota, when she was five years old, then relocating to Connecticut after she completed elementary as well as middle school. MacLachlan later studied English at the University of Connecticut, graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1962.[2][3]


MacLachlan first worked as an English teacher at Bennett Junior High School in Manchester, Connecticut from 1963 until 1979. She was also employed by a family services agency during this time.[2][3] She then began writing at the age of 35, after her children started attending school.[4] She published her first volume, The Sick Day, in 1979, with her first novel, Arthur, for the Very First Time, being released the following year. Six years later, she was awarded the Newbery Medal for her book Sarah, Plain and Tall.[2] It was adapted as a TV movie by the same name in 1991, starring Glenn Close and Christopher Walken, with MacLachlan as one of its screenwriters.[2][5] The two actors subsequently reprised their roles in the sequel Skylark two years later.[2][6] Her novels Journey (1991) and Baby (1993) were also adapted for TV in 1995 and 2000, respectively.[2][7][8]

MacLachlan ultimately authored over 60 children's books throughout her career.[2][3] She collaborated with her daughter, Emily MacLachlan Charest, to create several picture books during the latter part of her career.[9] These included Once I Ate a Pie (2006), Fiona Loves the Night (2007), I Didn't Do It (2010), Cat Talk (2013), and Little Robot Alone.[2] MacLachlan received a National Humanities Medal in 2002.[10] She was a board member of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance, a national not-for-profit that actively advocates for literacy, literature, and libraries.[11]

Personal life[edit]

MacLachlan married Robert MacLachlan in 1962. They met while she was studying at the University of Connecticut,[3] and remained married until his death in 2015. Together, they had three children: John, Emily, and Jamison.[2][4] She resided in western Massachusetts[12] and kept a small bag of dirt from the prairies to call to mind her Wyoming roots.[2][3]

Patricia MacLachlan died on March 31, 2022, at her home in Williamsburg, Massachusetts. She was 84 years old.[2]


Sarah, Plain and Tall series, of the Witting family
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall (April 1985) — winner of the 1986 Newbery Medal[2]
  • Skylark (March 1994) ISBN 978-0-06-023328-0
  • Caleb's Story (October 2001) ISBN 978-0-06-023606-9
  • More Perfect Than the Moon (2004) ISBN 978-0-06-027558-7
  • Grandfather's Dance (2009) ISBN 978-1-4178-1868-6


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Philo T. Pritzkau". Retrieved April 12, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Langer, Emily (April 5, 2022). "Patricia MacLachlan, author of 'Sarah, Plain and Tall,' dies at 84". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e Maughan, Shannon (April 5, 2022). "Obituary: Patricia MacLachlan". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  4. ^ a b Courtney, Ann (November 1885). "Profile: Patricia Maclachlan". Language Arts. 62 (7): 783–787. JSTOR 41405354 – via JSTOR.
  5. ^ "Sarah, Plain and Tall". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  6. ^ "Skylark". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  7. ^ "Journey". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  8. ^ "Baby". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  9. ^ "Books by Emily Maclachlan Charest and Patricia Maclachlan". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved April 3, 2022.
  10. ^ "Patricia MacLachlan. National Humanities Medal. 2002". National Endowment for the Humanities. 2002. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  11. ^ "The NCBLA Board of Directors". Archived from the original on March 22, 2012. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
  12. ^ "Patricia MacLachlan". HarperCollins. Retrieved April 3, 2022.
  13. ^ MacLachlan, Patricia (March 17, 2020). Wondrous Rex. ISBN 978-0-06-294098-8.

External links[edit]