by Vito Lucia, The Chicago Times
NEW YORK – Celebrated children’s author Beverly Cleary passed away Thursday at 104 according to a news release by HarperCollins. The author died Thursday in Carmel Valley, California. No cause of the death was given.
Cleary began writing books in her 30s and gained worldwide renown for her adventure stories centered around “Henry Huggins” and his neighbors on the fictionalized version of Klickitat Street where the author grew up in her youth.
Cleary had recently given up writing and was quoted saying: “. . . it’s important for writers to know when to quit.” However, Cleary did re-release three of her most famous titles with new forewords written by the author.
In March of 2016, Cleary admitted that she preferred to write her stories long hand because the processes of typing often interfered with what she wanted to write. Cleary went so far as to get rid of her typewriter.
In an Associated Press interview, Cleary stated that she started writing books as a librarian since “. . . children were always asking for books about `kids like us.′ Well, there weren’t any books about kids like them. So when I sat down to write, I found myself writing about the sort of children I had grown up with.”
Born Beverly Bunn on April 12, 1916 in McMinnville, Oregon, Cleary lived on a farm until her parents moved to Portland. Cleary was a slow reader as a student, which she blamed on a series of illnesses and a “mean spirited” first grade teacher that slapped pupil’s hands with a steel-tipped pointer.
Cleary would go onto graduate from junior college in Ontario, California; and the University of California at Berkeley where she met her future husband Clarence Cleary. Married in 1940, they would remain together until Clarence’s death in 2004. The Cleary’s would become the parents of twins that would go on to be the inspiration for her book “Mitch and Amy.”
Cleary would go on to study library science at the University of Washington and work as a children’s librarian and during World War II would serve as “post” librarian at the Oakland Army Hospital.
Cleary was an accomplished children’s author, wife, and mother. She will be missed by millions today and in the future.