I’d planned to begin this post by stating the number of books written by author/storyteller/lecturer/biographer Virginia Hamilton. But I couldn’t find a definitive answer. One source credited the author with writing 30 books. Another, 35. Yet another, 40. So let me begin by stating that Virginia Hamilton has authored a whole lot of books!
A prolific author, to say the least, she is sometimes called the “Toni Morrison of children’s literature.” (Though I would say that Toni Morrison is the Virginia Hamilton of adult literature.)
Virginia was born in 1936 on a small farm in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She began writing early on, inspired by stories told to her by her parents, often about her “Grandpa,” Levi Perry, an exslave who escaped to freedom using the Underground Railroad.
Her first published children’s book, Zeely, actually began as a short story, and is now considered a classic. My personal favorite, The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales, is a compilation of folk tales, illustrated by the great Leo and Diane Dillion. It has received many honors, including the Coretta Scott King Award.
Virginia Hamilton has been the recipient of every major award in children’s literature. She was the first African American woman to win the Newbery Award, for M.C. Higgins the Great. She is a three-time Newbery Honoree, a three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner, and in 1992, she was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, in recognition of her entire body of work. She was the first writer for children to receive a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship. Other awards include the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Regina Medal and an NAACP Image Award.
Virginia Hamilton passed away in 2002. My words could never do the woman or her career justice, so instead, I offer links to her website. I encourage you to go tere, dissect it, enjoy!
FROM THE VIRGINIA HAMILTION WEBSITE: