She Began as a Librarian. Then She Gave the World 'Ramona'

Children's author Beverly Cleary dies at 104
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 27, 2021 5:30 AM CDT
She Began as a Librarian. Then She Gave the World 'Ramona'
This image shows a collection of books by Beverly Cleary on Friday at a home in Altadena, Calif.   (AP Photo/Anthony McCartney)

Beverly Cleary, the celebrated children's author whose memories of her Oregon childhood were shared with millions through the likes of Ramona and Beezus Quimby and Henry Huggins, has died. She was 104. Cleary's publisher HarperCollins announced Friday that the author died Thursday in Carmel Valley, Calif., where she'd lived since the 1960s. No cause of death was given, per the AP. Trained as a librarian, Cleary didn't start writing books until her early 30s, when she wrote Henry Huggins, published in 1950. Children worldwide came to love the adventures of Huggins and neighbors Ellen Tebbits, Otis Spofford, Beatrice "Beezus" Quimby and her younger sister, Ramona. They inhabit a down-home, wholesome setting on Klickitat Street—a real street in Portland, Ore., the city where Cleary spent much of her youth.

Ramona, perhaps Cleary's best-known character, made her debut in Henry Huggins with only a brief mention. "All the children appeared to be only children, so I tossed in a little sister and she didn't go away," Cleary said in a March 2016 interview. Cleary married her husband, Clarence, in 1940; Clarence Cleary died in 2004. They were the parents of twins, a boy and a girl born in 1955 who inspired her book Mitch and Amy. Cleary studied library science at the University of Washington and worked as the children's librarian in Yakima, Wash., and post librarian at the Oakland Army Hospital during World War II. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and in 1981, Ramona and Her Mother won the National Book Award. She was named a Living Legend in 2000 by the Library of Congress. Cleary hadn't been writing recently because she said she felt "it's important for writers to know when to quit." Much more on Cleary here.

(More Beverly Cleary stories.)

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