TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Annie Barrows

Annie Barrows

Annie Barrows was born in 1962 in San Diego, California, and moved at a tender age (three weeks) to a small town called San Anselmo in the San Francisco Bay Area. She spent most of her childhood at the library. She wouldn’t leave, so they hired her to shelve books at the age of twelve.

Annie attended UC Berkeley and received a B. A. in medieval history, which failed to lead to a job in the middle ages. Under the impression that a career in publishing meant she’d get to read a lot, Annie became a proofreader at an art magazine and later toiled in the vineyard of textbook editing. In 1988, Chronicle Books hired Annie as an editorial assistant, from which platform she became successively assistant editor, managing editor, Editor (modifier-free), and Senior Editor. Somewhere in the middle of this trajectory, she acquired Griffin & Sabine, Chronicle’s first New York Times best-seller.

In 1996, Annie received her Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Mills College and had a baby, a sequence of events that persuaded her to leave editorial work and move into writing. She wrote several non-fiction books, including one about fortune-telling (she can read palms!) and one about opera (she knows what Die Meistersinger is about!) before turning her attention to children’s books. In 2006, the first book in her children’s series Ivy and Bean was published. This title, an ALA Notable Book for 2007, was followed by five others. The most recent, Ivy and Bean: What’s the Big Idea? came out in October, 2010.  A novel for older children, The Magic Half, was published by BloomsburyUSA in 2008, and by David Fickling Books in the UK in 2009.

In 2006, Annie’s aunt Mary Ann Shaffer sold her first novel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to The Dial Press. This was the cause of great celebration within the family, but soon thereafter, Mary Ann’s health began to fail. When, in the autumn of that year, she received the editor’s revisions, she did not feel well enough to undertake the work, and asked Annie to finish the book for her, on the grounds that she was the other writer in the family. Mary Ann passed away in February of 2008, before the book was published. In addition to being a New York Times best-seller, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has been published in thirty-three languages.

Annie lives in Northern California with her husband and two daughters. She is currently working on a new novel for adults and a ninth Ivy and Bean book for kids.