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Monday, February 4, 2019

An actor immersed in the story

“If the past cannot teach the present and the father cannot teach the son, then history need not have bothered to go on, and the world has wasted a great deal of time.” – Russell Hoban

Born in Pennsylvania on this date in 1925, Hoban spent 41 years living and writing in England (where he died in 2011).  While there, he wrote most of his mainstream adult fiction, poetry, and several plays to complement some 3 dozen children’s and young adult books that he wrote throughout his lifetime.    

A World War II veteran (and winner of a Bronze Star for heroism), Hoban started his post-War career as an illustrator, painting several covers for Time, Sports Illustrated, and The Saturday Evening Post before he wrote and illustrated his first children's book, What Does It Do and How Does It Work? Power Shovel, Dump Truck, and Other Heavy Machines.   The book’s success put him on a new career path from which he never looked back.

Among his many other lasting children’s books are the Frances the Badger series, which he also illustrated, and the multiple award-winning How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen, which shared the annual Whitbread Award for Children's Books in 1974.   Science Fiction, Fantasy and Magical Realism are the basis for most of his Adult and Young Adult works.  His novel Riddley Walker won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.    

“When I write a book,” Hoban said,  “I don't have a plan or an outline. The characters move the action, and the action develops the characters. When I write a book, I become an actor, really, taking the role of the person who is speaking or acting at the time, and so their reactions to whatever they see are my reactions.”

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