Biography

Jean Craighead George

JJean Craighead Georgeean Craighead George was born in a family of naturalists. Her father, mother, brothers, aunts and uncles were students of nature. On weekends they camped in the woods near their Washington, D.C. home, climbed trees to study owls, gathered edible plants and made fish hooks from twigs. Her first pet was a turkey vulture. In third grade she began writing and hasn't stopped yet. She has written over 100 books.

Her book, Julie of the Wolves won the prestigious Newbery Medal, the American Julie of the Wolves Library Association's award for the most distinguished contribution to literature for children, 1973. My Side of the Mountain, the story of a boy and a falcon surviving on a mountain together, was a 1960 Newbery Honor Book. She received 20 other awards.

Jean with owlShe attended Penn State University graduating with a degree in Science and Literature. In the 1940s she was a reporter for The Washington Post and a member of the White House Press Corps. After her children were born she returned to her love of nature and brought owls, robins, mink, sea gulls, tarantulas - 173 wild animals into their home and backyard. These became characters in her books and, although always free to go, they would stay with the family until the sun changed their behavior and they migrated or went off to seek partners of their own kind.

When her children, Twig, Craig and Luke, were old enough to carry their own Luke, Craig and Twig Georgebackpacks, they all went to the animals. They climbed mountains, canoed rivers, hiked deserts. Her children learned about nature and Jean came home and to write books. Craig and Luke are now environmental scientists and Twig writes children's books, too.

One summer Jean learned that the wolves were friendly, lived in a well-run society and communicated with each other in wolf talk -- sound, sight, posture, scent and coloration. Excited to learn more, she took Luke and went to the Naval Arctic Research Laboratory in Barrow, Alaska, where Jean hikingscientists were studying this remarkable animal. She even talked to the wolves in their own language. With that, Julie of the Wolves was born. A little girl walking on the vast lonesome tundra outside Barrow, and a magnificent alpha male wolf, leader of a pack in Denali National Park were the inspiration for the characters in the book. Years later, after many requests from her readers, she wrote the sequels, Julie and Julie's Wolf Pack.

She continued to travel and return home to write. In the last decade, she added two beautiful new dimensions to her words beautiful full-color picture book art by Wendell Minor and others and music. Jean collaborated with award-winning composer, Chris Kubie to bring the sounds of nature to her words.

 

May 2012
Children's author Jean Craighead George, 92, died "peacefully and painlessly", according to her agent Ginger Knowlton at Curtis Brown (she took over from her Perry Knowlton, who was George's agent for 25 years.) Of the more than 100 novels... George published, she was best known for the Newbery Award winning novel JULIE OF THE WOLVES (1972) as well as MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN (1958) and later sequels published in the 1990s. "Jean herself was a force of nature; with her booming voice and her strong ideas about life and politics; a much-loved writer whose work was among the most influential in the last century; a lifelong and powerful presence in the publishing industry whose impact cannot be measured solely by the millions of books she sold all over the world," Knowlton said in a statement.

"The legacy she leaves behind for those of us at Curtis Brown who act so proudly on her behalf is that of a passionate and fearless naturalist, teacher, and artist. We are so grateful for the many years of good memories, and for all her beloved books that will live on forever."

shadow