TTLG Author/Illustrator Profiles

Scott O'Dell

Scott O'Dell

Scott O’Dell was born on May 23, 1898 in Los Angeles, Ca. He traveled all over Southern California and was able to see and experience many different things. His family moved around a lot because his father was a railroad worker. When he was young, he loved to be outdoors and especially enjoyed playing in the water and experiencing sea life.

Scott O’Dell attended Occidental College in 1919, the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1920, Stanford University from 1920-21 and the University of Rome in 1925. He only took classes that helped him in his writing career and interested him. As an adult he had several different jobs before he became a writer. He was a cameraman for Hollywood and even worked on the film Ben Hur. He served in the Air Force during World War II, and at one time he was even a rancher. Scott O’Dell began writing both nonfiction and fiction books for adults and articles in 1934. During the 1940s and 1950s he worked as a book columnist for the Los Angeles Mirror and as a book editor for the Los Angeles Daily News. In the late 1950s he began writing children’s books.

The contributions he made to children’s literature were phenomenal. He received many awards for his work. The first award he received was the Newbery Medal in 1961 for probably one if his best know works: Island of the Blue Dolphins. Three of his books of historical fiction were named Newbery Honor Books. They are: The King’s Fifth (1966), The Black Pearl (1967), and Sing Down the Moon (1970). Scott O’Dell received the Hans Christian Anderson Award for lifetime achievement in 1972. In 1976 he received the University of Southern Mississippi Silver Medallion and the Regina Medal in 1978. In 1981, he established the Scott O’Dell Historical Fiction Award, an award that recognizes outstanding works of historical fiction. The books must be published in English by a U.S. publisher and must be set in the New World (North, Central, and South America). Winners receive $5,000. In 1986, The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books awarded Scott O’Dell with this same award.

Scott O’Dell died on October 15, 1989.