Teach Your Children

Posted by jcmaziquemd on March 12, 2011

It’s the birthday of children’s author Virginia Hamilton (1934) (books by this author). She was the youngest of the five children Kenneth Hamilton and Etta Perry Hamilton raised on a farm near Yellow Springs, Ohio.
Hamilton’s grandfather, Levi Perry, was an escaped slave. He came to southern Ohio via the Underground Railroad in the late 1850s. Virginia was named for her grandfather’s home state.
Virginia grew up in the embrace of a large extended family. The family was full of tale-weavers. Her grandfather "sat his ten children down every year and said, ‘I’m going to tell you how I escaped from slavery, so slavery will never happen to you.’" Hamilton called her parents "unusually fine storytellers." They encouraged her to read — and were not surprised when the child began writing her own stories.
In 1958, after college, Hamilton moved to New York. She held a variety of jobs there, including accountant and nightclub singer, while she pursued her dream of writing. She also met and married poet Arnold Adoff and had two children. In 1969, the family settled permanently in Yellow Springs, on a corner of the old family farm.
Hamilton wrote 41 published books for children and young adults, including The House of Dies Drear (1968), The Planet of Junior Brown (1971), M.C. Higgins, the Great (1974), Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush (1982), and Her Stories (1995). M.C. Higgins, the Great, an Appalachian coming-of-age tale, was the first book ever to win the "grand slam" of children’s literature: the Newbery Medal, the National Book Award, and the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award. During her career, Hamilton won almost every award that exists for children’s literature.
Virginia Hamilton died of breast cancer on February 19, 2002.
Virginia Hamilton said: "There are three things I can remember always wanting: to go to New York, to go to Spain, and to be a writer. It feels nice to have done all three. I haven’t had to want anything for some time."


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