“I love writing. I've pursued it with a passion.” – Betsy Byars
Echoing the sentiments of the majority of those of us who write for a living, Byars made this statement shortly before her death this past February at the age of 91. Born in Charlotte, NC, on this date in 1928, she started her passion for writing while still in high school, pursuing it further at Furman University and then at Queens College in New York where she earned her degree in English. Her first professional writing was for magazines before she authored her first book, Clementine, in 1962.
Listed among the 100 best children’s authors of all time and one of the 10 best writers for children during her lifetime, she wrote more than 50 books (the last published in 2006) and collaborated with her two daughters on half-a-dozen more. She also wrote a bestselling memoir.
Her 1970 novel Summer of the Swans won the Newbery Medal, and her 1980 novel The Night Swimmers earned a National Book Award. And, to show she also could handle mystery writing, her 1991 novel Wanted …Mud Blossom won a coveted Edgar Prize.
While she created some of the most popular and beloved characters in children’s literature, she presented each of them only once in her many books.
“Early in my career,” Byars said, “I decided not to do sequels. I know that
children enjoy them, but I valued the feeling that this was the only time I
would write about these characters. I felt it gave me an added incentive to do
my best by them, to tell readers everything I knew, to hold nothing back.”