Who Was Beverly Cleary? All You Need To Know About The Late Beloved Children’s Author

Beverly Cleary passes away
Beverly Cleary was an American author famous for writing children’s and young adult fiction. She was one of America’s most successful authors.

Her first book was published in 1950. Some of her best characters include Ramona Quimby and Beezus Quimby, Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy, and Ralph S. Mouse. The majority of her books are set in the Grant Park neighbourhood of northeast Portland, Oregon, where she was raised.

10 Things to know about Beverly Cleary

  1. Beverly Cleary (nee Beverly Atlee Bunn) was born on April 12, 1916, in Mc Minnville, Oregon, to Chester Llyod Bunn and Mable Atlee Bunn. Initially, the family lived on a farm in rural Yamhill, Oregon. When Cleary was 6 years old, they moved to Portland, Oregon where her father got the job of a bank security officer. It was difficult for her to adjust to city life and she struggled in school.
  2. In her first grade, she was placed under the ‘Blackbirds’ group of readers. It meant to be a disgrace. She tried her best but couldn’t read. With some hard work, her reading skills improved but she found it a boring task as many stories appeared to be simple and unsurprising. She wondered why authors did not write with humour or about ordinary people.
  3. Cleary graduated from Grant High School in Portland, after which she entered Chaffey Junior College in Ontario, California and aspired to become a children’s librarian. In 1938, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley.
  4. In 1939, she graduated from the University of Washington and served as a children’s librarian in Yakima, Washington until 1940. She then became a librarian at the U.S. Army Hospital in Oakland, California from 1942-1945. She also worked at Sather Gate Book Shop in Berkeley.
  5. As a children’s librarian, Cleary assisted the young readers who faced difficulty in finding books with characters they could identify themselves with. After years of recommending books and carrying out live storytelling sessions, Beverly decided to become a children’s author.
  6. Beverly Cleary’s first book was Henry Huggins. It was the first in a series of fictional books about Henry, his dog Risby, his friend Beezus and her sister Ramona. While writing the book, the author took inspiration from the times she wrote children’s stories on Saturday afternoons when she worked as a librarian in Yakima.
  7. Cleary’s books are historically noted for paying attention to finer details of childhood, particularly the experiences of children growing up in middle-class families. Critics have also noted Cleary’s use of humour. Roger Sutton of The Horn Book Magazine is of the view, “Cleary is funny in a very sophisticated way.” Pat Pflieger, professor of children’s literature at West Chester University notes, “Cleary’s books have lasted because she understands her audience.”
  8. Cleary won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for “substantial and lasting contributions to children’s literature” in 1975. In 1984, she was nominated for the biennial international Hans Christian Anderson Award. In April 2000, she was named Library of Congress Living Legend in the category of ‘writers and artists’ as she contributed to the cultural heritage of the United States.
  9. Cleary’s books have been published in about 25 different languages and have also received several awards and honours.
  10. Beverly Cleary died at the age of 104 years on March 25, 2021, in Carmel, California. The cause of death, however, is not known yet. Read a detailed report on her death here