Jean Craighead George
1919-2012

Thank you, Jean

Read the May 17, 2012 New York Times tribute to Jean.

 

 

Jean Craighead George was born in a family of naturalists. Her father, mother, brothers, aunts and uncles were students of nature. On weekends they camped along the Potomac near their Washington, D.C. home, climbed trees to study owls, gathered edible plants and made fish hooks from twigs. Her first pet was a turkey vulture. She began to write in third grade and never stopped. She wrote over 100 books.

Her book, Julie of the Wolves won the prestigious Newbery Medal, the American Library Association's award for the most distinguished contribution to literature for children, 1973. My Side of the Mountain, the story of a boy and a falcon surviving on a mountain together, was a 1960 Newbery Honor Book. She received 20 other awards.

Jean and OwlShe attended Penn State University graduating with a degree in Science and Literature. In the 1940s she was a reporter for The Washington Post and a member of the White House Press Corps. After her children were born she returned to her love of nature and brought owls, robins, mink, sea gulls, tarantulas - 173 wild animals into their home and backyard. These became characters in her books and, although always free to go, they would stay with the family until the sun changed their behavior and they migrated or went off to seek partners of their own kind.

When her children, Twig, Craig and Luke, were old enough to carry their own Luke, Craig and Twig Georgebackpacks, they all went to the animals. They climbed mountains, canoed rivers, hiked deserts. Her children learned about nature and Jean came home and to write books. Craig and Luke are now environmental scientists and Twig writes children's books, too.

One summer Jean learned that wolves were friendly, lived in a well-run society and communicated with each other in wolf talk -- sound, sight, posture, scent and coloration. Excited to learn more, she took Luke and went to the Naval Arctic Research Laboratory in Barrow, Alaska, where scientists were studying this remarkable animal. She even talked to the wolves in their own language. With that, Julie of the Wolves was born. A little girl walking on the vast lonesome tundra outside Barrow, and a magnificent alpha male wolf, leader of a pack in Denali National Park were the inspiration for the characters in the book. Years later, after many requests from her readers, she wrote the sequels, Julie and Julie's Wolf Pack.

Some of Jean's CDs available at Live Oak Media

She continued to travel and return home to write. In the last decades, she added two beautiful new dimensions to her words beautiful the full-color picture book art by Wendell Minor and others and music. Jean collaborated with award-winning composer, Chris Kubie to bring the sounds of nature to her words.

May 2012

Children's author Jean Craighead George, 92, died "peacefully and painlessly", four days after completing Shadow, the Cougar of Flat Creek. Of the more than 100 novels George published, she was best known for the Newbery Award winning novel Julie Of The Wolves (1972) as well as My Side of the Mountain (1959) and later sequels published in the 1990s. "Jean herself was a force of nature; with her booming voice and her strong ideas about life and politics; a much-loved writer whose work was among the most influential in the last century; a lifelong and powerful presence in the publishing industry whose impact cannot be measured solely by the millions of books she sold all over the world," Ginger Knowlton, her agent at Curtis Brown,Ltd.

"The legacy she leaves behind for those of us at Curtis Brown who act so proudly on her behalf is that of a passionate and fearless naturalist, teacher, and artist. We are so grateful for the many years of good memories, and for all her beloved books that will live on forever."

February 2016

Jean was inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame

"I am writing on behalf of the New York State Writers Hall of Fame with the happy news that this year’s selection committee has selected Jean Craighead George to be one of its 2016 inductees. The Writers Hall of Fame is administered by the Empire State Center for the Book and celebrates books, literacy, and authors within the State of New York. The Center is the New York State affiliate of the Library of Congress’s National Center for the Book."

"...Prior years living inductees were Robert Caro, E.L. Doctorow, Pete Hamill, Toni Morrison, and Joyce Carol Oates. In 2015 our inductees were Isaac Asimov, Allen Ginsberg, Ezra Jack Keats, Dawn Powell, Francine Prose, David Remnick and Colm Toibin."

With all best regards,
Rocco Staino
Director, Empire State Center for the Book

"Noted writers Roger Angell, Roz Chast, Samuel R, Delany, and Stephen Sondheim are among the eight members of the 2016 Class of Inductees into the NYS Writers Hall of Fame. The four were in attendance at the induction ceremony and dinner on Tuesday evening, June 7, 2016"

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Jean Craighead George with covers of her works
If you want to contact Jean's son, Craig George: jean_mail@barrow.com