Virginia Hamilton

Article Bio Works Merits www
Afro-Americans, children & youth
Written and spoken word (general)
America, North
United States of America
created on:
April 28, 2005
last changed on:
Please note: This page has not been updated since January 26, 2011. We decided to keep it online because we think the information is still valuable.
Other languages:


Virginia Hamilton was born in Ohio in 1936, the youngest of five children. She grew up on a farm near Yellow Springs owned by her family since 1850, when her grandfather escaped from slavery. The authoress studied literature and creative writing at Antioch College from 1952 to 1955 before attending Ohio State University. From 1958 to 1960 she continued her studies at the New School for Social Research in New York, where she met and, in 1960, married the poet Arnold Adoff. The couple ironically called themselves a ´two-Olivetti family´.
Virginia Hamilton´s debut ´Zeely´ (1967) describes the day-to-day life of African-Americans. Like many others, she expresses a new feeling for life: ´black is beautiful´. Almost every year now, she publishes a work of children´s and teenage literature. One of Virginia Hamilton’s great concerns is to give children an insight into African-American culture.

Her desire to write began in early childhood. Both her parents loved reading and story-telling. In her stories she processes childhood experiences and elements of her family´s history. In an interview she noted: "I have generations of memories". Her parents´ farm, to which she returned after a 15-year stay in New York to settle down with her husband, creates an ideal framework for her literary work.

Her book ´The House of Dies Drear´, published in 1968, won the 1968 Edgar Allan Poe Award. ´M.C. Higgins, The Great´, her only novel so far been translated into German, made her the first African-American woman to win the Newbery Medal (1975). In 1992, she was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Prize for her life´s work. Viriginia Hamilton holds several honorary doctorates. The Virginia Hamilton Literary Award has been offered annually since 1998 during the Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literary Experiences for Youth. Virginia Hamilton has a daughter and a son.

Virginia Hamilton died on February 19, 2002.
Author: International Festival of Literature Berlin (ilb)


* 12. März 1936
† 19. Februar 2002


Virginia Hamilton: Speeches, Essays, and Conversations

Published Written,
Ed. by Arnold Adoff and Kacy Cook. Blue Sky Press/Scholastic Inc.: New York

Wee Winnie Witch’s Skinny: An Original African American Scare Tale

Published Written,
Blue Sky Press: New York

Bruh Rabbit and the Tar Baby Girl

Published Written,
Blue Sky Press: New York

Time Pieces: The Book of Times

Published Written,
Blue Sky Press: New York

The Girl Who Spun Gold

Published Written,
Blue Sky Press: New York

Anthony Burns: The Defeat and Triumph of a Fugitive Slave

Published Written,
Alfred A. Knopf: New York

The People Could Fly

Published Written,
Alfred A. Knopf: New York

M.C. Higgins The Great

Published Written,
New York: Macmillan

The Planet of Junior Brown

Published Written,
Macmillan: New York

The House of Dies Drear

Published Written,
Macmillan: New York


Published Written,
Macmillan: New York


Edgar Allan Poe Award for "The House of Dies Drear"
National Book Award for "M. C. Higgins the Great"
Newbery Medal for "M. C. Higgins the Great“
Regina Medal
Hans Christian Andersen Award
Laura Ingalls Wilder Award


Official website