TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Jean Fritz

Jean Fritz

Jean Fritz researches the past as if she were a journalist. She says, "My beat may lie in another time, but my approach is that of a reporter, trying for a scoop, looking for clues, connecting facts, digging under the surface." At the center of her research are the people who shaped the past, and she is especially interested in the quirky things about them. "History is full of gossip; it's real people and emotion," says Fritz. The details about these people and their emotions make Fritz's biographies and other historical books come alive for today's readers.

Until she was 12 years old, Fritz and her family lived in China, where she relied on stories and writing to ease her loneliness. In those early years, she began to keep a journal in which she wrote her feelings about people and life. When she grew up, she held a number of jobs that involved writing. She also tried to get some of her children's stories published, but at first she did not succeed. Eventually she worked as a children's librarian for two years, gaining a deeper understanding of the craft of writing for children. She began sending her stories out again, and this time they began to be published. That was nearly 50 years ago, and Fritz's writing career is still going strong!

In her books about real people of the past, Jean Fritz never makes up dialogue. Instead, she draws on the real letters, diaries, and journals of those people, using only words that they actually wrote or spoke. This practice can make writing scenes and conversations difficult, but Fritz feels it keeps her writing true to the people involved.