Beverly Cleary, a renowned children’s book author has died at the age of 104.
Her stories served as a guiding spirit for many baby boomers and the following generations. They somewhat lived their childhood in the pages of her work.
On Friday, Cleary’s publisher HarperCollins announced that the author had died on Thursday in her residence in Northern California. She lived there since the 1960s.
There are no official reports about the cause of her death.
She was regarded as Grande dame of children’s literature, she wrote about the anxieties of a child – both humorously and realistically – in her popular books such as “Henry Huggins” and “Beezus and Ramona.”
She was trained as a librarian, but she started writing books when she was in her early 30s. She published Henry Huggins in 1950. Children all around the world used to love the adventures of Huggins and his neighbors Otis Spofford, Ellen Tebbits, Beatrice “Beezus” Quimby and her younger sister, Ramona. The story is set on Klickitat Street – a real life street in Portland, Oregon, the place where Cleary spent most her childhood.
Among the “Henry” series were Henry and the Paper Rpute, Henry and Ribsy, and Henry and Beezus.
Ramona was widely known for her character that made its debut in Henry Huggins with only a short mention.
“All the children appeared to be only children so I tossed in a little sister and she didn’t go away. She kept in every book,” Cleary said in a telephonic interview with media organization in March 2016.
Cleary had no siblings, and was the only child of her parents. However, she mentioned that this character doesn’t reflect her.
“I was a well-behaved little girl, not that I wanted to be,” she said. “At the age of Ramona, in those days, children played outside. We played hopscotch and jump rope and I loved them and always had scraped knees.”
Over all, Cleary published about eight books on Ramona between Beezus and Ramona in 1955 and Ramona’s World in 1999.
Clearly took a break from writing recently, saying, “it’s important for writers to know when to quit.”
She added, “I even got rid of my typewriter. It was a nice one but I hate to type. When I started writing I found that I was thinking more about my typing than I was going to say, so I write it longhand.”
Even though she ditched her pen for a while, Cleary re-published three of her most beloved books with three popular fans – the actor Amy Poehler and the authors Judy Blume and Kate DiCamilo – writing prologues for the latest editions.
Cleary described herself as “fuddy-duddy,” revealing that there was only one thing that inspired her to write children’s books.
“As a librarian, children were always asking for books about ‘kids like us.’ Well, there weren’t any books about kids like them. So when I sat down to write, I found myself writing about the sort of children I had grown up with,” Cleary said in an interview in 1993.
She was titled as Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 2000. After three years in 2003, she was selected as the winner of the National Medal of Arts, where she also met then-President of the United States, George W. Bush. Her works been appreciated in the literary community worldwide, earning her a lot of awards.
She wrote two volumes of autobiography for her readers, one was about her childhood named “A girl from Yamhill”, and the other one was about her time in college and early grownup times until she published her first book.
“I seem to have grown up with an unusual memory. People are astonished at the things I remember. I think it comes from living in isolation on a farm the first six years of my life where my main activity was observing,” Cleary said.
Born on April 12, 1916 in McMinnville Oregon, she was raised as an only child to her parents. She had trouble in reading because of her illness and the treatment she got from her rude first-grade teacher who used to hit her with a steel-tipped pointer at the back of her hands.
“I had chicken pox, smallpox and tonsillitis in the first grade and nobody seemed to think that had anything to do with my reading trouble,” Cleary said. Her reading problem made her so mad and rebellious.
By the time she reached to sixth or seventh grade, she was convinced of becoming a writer of children’s stories, taking into account of her own troubles and problems as a child.
The children’s book author graduated from junior college in Ontario, California, and the University of California, Berkeley. She met her husband, Clarence, in the same university. She tied the knot in 1940, and got widowed in 2004. They couple had twins, a boy and a girl, who were born in 1955 – she also wrote a book inspired by her children named “Mitch and Amy.”
Cleary received a degree in Library Science from the University of Washington and worked as a librarian at Yakima, Washington, and also as post librarian at the Oakland army hospital during WWII.
Cleary once responded to a question about her favorite character, saying, “Does your mother have a favorite child?”
Rest in peace Beverly Cleary, you will forever be remembered!
The American author was best-known for her character Ramona Quimby, which everyone thought that it reflects her own personality. The librarian-turned-author was regarded as the most beloved and prolific author because of her popular children’s books. So have you read Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy?