TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson was born October 23, 1961, in Potsdam, New York, to Frank and Joyce Halse. She married Gregory H. Anderson June 19, 1983, and the couple has two daughters.

Anderson received her AA from Onondaga County Community College in 1981. She then earned a BS in languages and linguistics from Georgetown University in 1984. After completing her education, Anderson spent time starting a family and worked as a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer. She was also a freelance writer and editor for a magazine. Anderson began publishing her own books in 1996. Her first publication was a picture book for children entitled Ndito Runs.

Anderson’s most noted work is Speak, a book she wrote for teenage readers. The book tells the story of Melinda, a high school freshman. Melinda is an outcast at her school and is sexually assaulted by a senior at a party. The book documents Melinda’s reactions to the assault and her feelings of isolation and rejection from those who surround her. Anderson had the idea to write Speak after awaking from a nightmare in which she heard a young girl screaming for help. As Anderson wrote Speak she found it hard to remember that Melinda was merely a character in the book and not a real person. Anderson rewrote the ending of Speak three times before she was satisfied with the story. Anderson also wrote Fever 1793, which is the story of a teenage girl’s life during a yellow fever breakout. She has also published numerous books as part of the “Wild at Heart” series.

Anderson has received many awards for her publications. Her picture books received various awards and were placed on recommended reading lists. However, Anderson’s greatest awards were given to her for the two books, Speak and Fever 1793. She received honors such as being a finalist for the National Book Award in Young People’s Literature for Speak, which also earned Anderson the Edgar Allen Poe Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Printz Honor Medal Book Award. Anderson’s book Fever 1793 was an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults selection and also a Junior Library Guild selection.

Anderson currently resides in Maple Glen, Pennsylvania.