Portal:Children's literature/Selected biography

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Selected biographies list[edit]

Portal:Children's literature/Selected biography/1

Sarah Trimmer

Sarah Trimmer (née Kirby) (6 January 1741 – 15 December 1810) was a noted writer and critic of British children's literature in the 18th century. Her periodical, The Guardian of Education, helped to define the emerging genre by seriously reviewing children's literature for the first time; it also provided the first history of children's literature, establishing a canon of the early landmarks of the genre that scholars still use today. Trimmer's most popular children's book, Fabulous Histories, inspired numerous children's animal stories and remained in print for over a century. Trimmer was an active philanthropist as well as author; she founded several Sunday schools and charity schools in her parish. To further these educational projects, she not only wrote textbooks but she also penned manuals for other women interested in starting their own schools. Trimmer's efforts inspired other women, such as Hannah More, to establish Sunday school programs and to write for children and the poor. Trimmer was in many ways dedicated to maintaining the social and political status quo in her works. As a high church Anglican, she was intent on promoting the Established Church of Britain and on teaching young children and the poor the doctrines of Christianity. Her writings outlined the benefits of social hierarchies, arguing that each class should remain in its God-given position. Yet, while supporting many of the traditional political and social ideologies of her time, Trimmer questioned others, such as those surrounding gender and the family.


Portal:Children's literature/Selected biography/2

Anna Laetitia Barbauld

Anna Laetitia Barbauld (/bɑːrˈbld/, by herself possibly /bɑrˈboʊ/, as in French) (née Aikin) (20 June 1743 – 9 March 1825) was a prominent 18th-century English poet, essayist, and children's author. A "woman of letters" who published in multiple genres, Barbauld had a successful writing career at a time when female professional writers were rare. She was a noted teacher at the celebrated Palgrave Academy and an innovative children's writer; her famous primers provided a model for pedagogy for more than a century. Her essays demonstrated that it was possible for a woman to be publicly engaged in politics, and other women authors emulated her. Even more importantly, her poetry was foundational to the development of Romanticism in England. Barbauld was also a literary critic, and her anthology of 18th-century British novels helped establish the canon as we know it today. Barbauld's literary career ended abruptly in 1812 with the publication of her poem Eighteen Hundred and Eleven, which criticized Britain's participation in the Napoleonic Wars. The vicious reviews shocked Barbauld and she published nothing else within her lifetime. Her reputation was further damaged when many of the Romantic poets she had inspired in the heyday of the French Revolution turned against her in their later, more conservative, years. Barbauld was remembered only as a pedantic children's writer during the 19th century, and largely forgotten during the 20th century, but the rise of feminist literary criticism in the 1980s renewed interest in her works and restored her place in literary history.


Portal:Children's literature/Selected biography/3

J. K. Rowling

J. K. Rowling is a British writer and author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. The Potter books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, and sold nearly 400 million copies. The 2007 Sunday Times Rich List estimated Rowling's fortune at £545 million, ranking her as the 136th richest person and the 13th richest woman in Britain. Forbes has named Rowling the second-richest female entertainer in the world, and ranked her as the 48th most powerful celebrity of 2007. Time named Rowling as a runner-up for their 2007 Person of the Year, noting the social, moral, and political inspiration she has given her fandom. She has become a notable philanthropist, supporting such charities as Comic Relief, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain and One Parent Families. Harry Potter is now a global brand worth an estimated $15 billion (£7 billion), and the last four Harry Potter books have consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history. The series, totalling 4,195 pages, has been translated, in whole or in part, into 65 languages.


Portal:Children's literature/Selected biography/4

Mary Martha Sherwood

Mary Martha Sherwood was a prolific and influential writer of children's literature in 19th-century Britain. She composed over 400 books, tracts, magazine articles, and chapbooks; among the most famous are The History of Little Henry and his Bearer (1814), The History of Henry Milner (1822–37), and The History of the Fairchild Family (1818–47). Many of Sherwood's books were bestsellers and she has been described as "one of the most significant authors of children's literature of the nineteenth century." Her depictions of domesticity and Britain's relationship with India likely shaped the opinions of many young British readers. However, her works fell from favor as a different style of children's literature came into fashion during the late 19th century, one exemplified by Lewis Carroll's playful and nonsensical Alice in Wonderland.


Portal:Children's literature/Selected biography/5

J. R. R. Tolkien in 1916

J. R. R. Tolkien was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. He was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford from 1925 to 1945, and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature from 1945 to 1959. He was a close friend of C. S. Lewis—they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings. While many other authors had published works of fantasy before Tolkien, the great success of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings when they were published in paperback in the United States led directly to a popular resurgence of the genre. This has caused Tolkien to be popularly identified as the "father" of modern fantasy literature.


Portal:Children's literature/Selected biography/6

Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon is a 20th-century American author and "one of the most celebrated writers of his generation," according to the The Virginia Quarterly Review. His first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988), was published when Chabon was 25 and catapulted him to literary celebrity. He followed it with a second novel, Wonder Boys (1995), and two short-story collections. In 2000, Chabon published The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, a critically acclaimed novel that The New York Review of Books called his magnum opus; it received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2001. His most recent novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, an alternate history mystery novel, was published in 2007 to enthusiastic reviews and won the Hugo, Sidewise, and Nebula awards. His work is characterized by complex language, frequent use of metaphor, and an extensive vocabulary, along with numerous recurring themes, including nostalgia, divorce, abandonment, fatherhood, and issues of Jewish identity. He often includes gay, bisexual, and Jewish characters in his work. Since the late 1990s, Chabon has written in an increasingly diverse series of styles for varied outlets; he is a notable defender of the merits of genre fiction and plot-driven fiction, and, along with novels, he has published screenplays, children's books, comics, and newspaper serials.


Portal:Children's literature/Selected biography/7
PJ Haarsma is a Canadian born science fiction author best known for his creation of the Rings of Orbis universe, which encompasses The Softwire series of books. Haarsma created a free, online role-playing game, also called the Rings of Orbis, set in the same universe. Both the book-series and the game target young, often reluctant readers in an attempt to encourage them by rewarding them for reading. Haarsma also developed a school presentation program in which he discusses The Softwire books, astronomy, and other science fiction and science fact topics. He is also one of the co-founders of The Kids Need to Read Foundation, a United States Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charity that purchases books to donate to underfunded schools and libraries.


Portal:Children's literature/Selected biography/8

Tintin Shop

Georges Prosper Remi, better known by the pen name Hergé, was a Belgian comics writer and artist. His best known and most substantial work is The Adventures of Tintin, which he wrote and illustrated from 1929 until his death in 1983. His work remains a strong influence on comics, particularly in Europe. He was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2003. The notable qualities of the Tintin stories include their vivid humanism, a realistic feel produced by meticulous and wide ranging research, and Hergé's ligne claire drawing style. Adult readers enjoy the many satirical references to the history and politics of the 20th century. The Blue Lotus, for example, was inspired by the Mukden incident that led to the Chinese-Japanese War of 1934. King Ottokar's Sceptre can be read against the background of Hitler's Anschluss; whilst later albums such as The Calculus Affair depict the Cold War. Hergé has become one of the most famous Belgians worldwide and Tintin is still an international success. Hergé's work was heavily influenced by his involvement since his youth with Scouting.


Portal:Children's literature/Selected biography/9

Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett is an English novelist, known for his frequently comical work in the fantasy genre. He is best known for his popular and long-running Discworld series of comic fantasy novels. Pratchett's first novel, The Carpet People, was published in 1971, and since his first Discworld novel (The Colour of Magic) was published in 1983, he has written two books a year on average. Pratchett is also known for close collaboration on adaptations of his books. Pratchett was the UK's best-selling author of the 1990s, and as of December 2007 has sold more than 55 million books worldwide, with translations made into 36 languages. He is currently the second most-read writer in the UK, and seventh most-read non-US author in the US. In 2001 he won the Carnegie Medal for his children's novel The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents.


Portal:Children's literature/Selected biography/10

The Catcher in the Rye

J. D. Salinger was a 20th-century American author, best known for his 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye (pictured), as well as his reclusive nature. He has not published an original work since 1965 and has not been interviewed since 1980. Raised in the Bronx, Salinger began writing short stories while in secondary school, and published several stories in the early 1940s before serving in World War II. In 1948 he published the critically-acclaimed story "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" in The New Yorker magazine, which became home to much of his subsequent work. In 1951 Salinger released his novel, The Catcher in the Rye, an immediate popular success. His depiction of adolescent alienation and loss of innocence in the protagonist Holden Caulfield was influential, especially among adolescent readers. The novel remains widely read, selling around 250,000 copies a year. The success of The Catcher in the Rye led to public attention and scrutiny: Salinger became reclusive, publishing new work less frequently. He followed Catcher with a short story collection, Nine Stories (1953), a collection of a novella and a short story, Franny and Zooey (1961), and a collection of two novellas, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction (1963). His last published work, a novella entitled "Hapworth 16, 1924," appeared in The New Yorker on June 19, 1965. Afterwards, Salinger struggled with unwanted attention, including a legal battle in the 1980s with biographer Ian Hamilton and the release in the late 1990s of memoirs written by two people close to him: Joyce Maynard, an ex-lover; and Margaret Salinger, his daughter. In 1996, a small publisher announced a deal with Salinger to publish "Hapworth 16, 1924" in book form, but amid the ensuing publicity, the release was indefinitely delayed.


Portal:Children's literature/Selected biography/11

Christopher Smart

Christopher Smart (11 April 1722 – 21 May 1771) was an English poet. He was a major contributor to two popular magazines and a friend to influential cultural icons like Samuel Johnson and Henry Fielding. Smart, a high church Anglican, was widely known throughout London. Smart was infamous for his role as "Mrs. Mary Midnight" and widespread accounts of his father-in-law, John Newbery, locking him away in a mental asylum for many years over Smart's supposed religious "mania". Even after Smart's eventual release, a negative reputation continued to pursue him as he was known for incurring more debt than he could pay off; this ultimately led to his confinement in debtor's prison until his death. Smart's two most widely-known works are A Song to David and Jubilate Agno, both at least partly written during his confinement in asylum. However, Jubilate Agno was not to be published until 1939 and A Song to David received mixed reviews until the 19th century. To his contemporaries, Smart was known mainly for his many contributions in the journals The Midwife and The Student, along with his famous Seaton Prize poems and his mock epic The Hilliad. Although he is primarily recognized as a religious poet, his poetry includes various other themes, such as his theories on nature and his promotion of English nationalism. Some of his most famous religious poetry is Hymns for the Amusement of Children, one of the first books of hymns expressly written for a juvenile audience.


Portal:Children's literature/Selected biography/12

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish playwright, poet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being Earnest. As the result of a widely covered series of trials, Wilde suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned for two years hard labour after being convicted of "gross indecency" with other men. After Wilde was released from prison he set sail for Dieppe by the night ferry. He never returned to Ireland or Britain. Wilde wrote almost all of his major and minor works in the last decade of his life, including his fairy tales and short stories for children. He published three volumes of these, The Happy Prince and Other Tales, Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories and A House of Pomegranates.


Portal:Children's literature/Selected biography/13

Edmund Evans illustration from "The complete collection of pictures & songs"

Edmund Evans (1826–1905) was a prominent English wood engraver and colour printer during the Victorian era. Evans specialized in full-colour printing, which became popular in the mid-19th century. He employed and collaborated with illustrators such as Walter Crane, Randolph Caldecott, Kate Greenaway, and Richard Doyle to produce what are now considered to be classic children's books. Although little is known about his life, he wrote a short autobiography before his death in 1905 in which he described his life as a printer in Victorian London. After finishing an apprenticeship, Evans went into business for himself. By the early 1850s, he had made a reputation as a printer of covers for cheap novels known as yellow-backs. In the early 1860s, Evans began to print children's toy books and picture books in association with the printing house Routledge and Warne. His intention was to produce books for children that were beautiful and inexpensive. For three decades he produced multiple volumes each year, first illustrated by Crane, and later by Caldecott and Greenaway.


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