TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Virginia Hamilton

Virginia Hamilton

A vibrant, beautiful, educated and dynamic speaker, Virginia Hamilton was a master of her time. She wrote fictional stories, each very different from the others. For instance, most authors make their plots and characters from different stories similar to one another. She made each story very distinct in itself. On average, she produced almost a new book every year since 1967.

Her maternal grandfather was a slave who escaped to Yellow Springs, Ohio. Born in 1936, she was one of five children who grew up on the family farm there. She celebrated both her African American and Native American roots. Both her father and her mother were gifted storytellers. A graduate of Antioch College, she married Arnold Adoff, himself an award winning children's book anthologist, poet and author. They had two children, a daughter Leigh and a son Jaime.

Because she was such an excellent writer, she has been honored with many literary awards, including the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal in 1995. This award honors an author or illustrator whose books have made a substantial or lasting contribution to children's literature. In 1974 she received the Newbery Medal for M.C. Higgins, the Great which is set in the hills along the Ohio River. A young boy does not understand his father's great feeling for their ancestral home and fears that an overhanging slag heap will kill the family. She received the Edgar Allan Poe Award for The House of Dies Drear in 1968. Readers will learn a great deal of information about the Underground Railroad as a young boy learns the secrets of the old Dies Drear house. Wonder Works Family Movies has made an excellent adaptation of House of Dies Drear. She has also been honored with the Coretta Scott King for Her Stories.

Virgina Hamilton died on 2002 and will be greatly missed.