Distinguished children’s book author and noted naturalist Jean Craighead George died on May 15. She was 92.
Best known for the Newbery-winning novel Julie of the Wolves (Harper, 1972) and the Newbery Honor title My Side of the Mountain (Dutton, 1959), George penned more than 100 books for young people during a career that began with the publication of Vulpes the Red Fox in 1948. Her book projects were ongoing and readers will see two new titles published posthumously. Dial Books for Young Readers will release The Eagles Are Back, the final volume in a picture-book trilogy written by George and illustrated by Wendell Minor in spring 2013, and Ice Whale, a novel she collaborated on with her son Craig, will be published by Dial later next year.
George grew up in Washington, D.C., in a family of nature lovers, who took her on frequent camping trips and outdoor adventures, and instilled in her a deep respect and passion for the natural world—a sentiment that was always at the heart of her books.
Though she first began writing stories in the third grade, she pursued a calling to journalism after graduating from Pennsylvania State University in 1941 with bachelor’s degrees in science and English. She returned to Washington and was part of the White House Press Corps, reporting for the Washington Post and International News Service, among other outlets, throughout the 1940s.
The author also had a talent for art and illustrated several of her books, including six early titles that she collaborated on with her husband Dr. John L. George, whom she wed in 1944. The couple had three children and divorced in 1963. With her children, she nurtured more than 173 wild animals, many of which found their way into her writing as characters in her books.
George is survived by her daughter, two sons, and six grandchildren.
See Wendell Minor's tribute to Jean Craighead George here.