BEVERLY CLEARY Biography - Writers


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Beverly Cleary was born 0n 12 April 1916 in                                         
in McMinnville, Oregon, and, until she was old enough to attend       
school, lived on a farm in Yamhill, a town so small it had no library. Her         
mother arranged with the State Library to have books sent to Yamhill and acted     
as librarian in a lodge room upstairs over a bank. Beverly learned to love books   
Leaving Yamhill did not distress me, for home was wherever my parents lived. I     
looked forward to Portland, where I would have children close by to play with,     
school, a real teacher who would teach me to read. -- A Girl from Yamhill           
When the family moved to Portland, where Beverly attended grammar school and       
high school, she soon found herself in the low reading circle, an experience       
that has given her sympathy for the problems of struggling readers. By the third   
grade she had conquered reading and spent much of her childhood either with         
books or on her way to and from the public library. Before long her school         
librarian was suggesting that she should write for boys and girls when she grew     
up. The idea appealed to her, and she decided that someday she would write the     
books she longed to read but was unable to find on the library shelves, funny       
stories about her neighborhood and the sort of children she knew.                   
As rain beat against the windows, a feeling of peace came over me as I wrote far   
beyond the required length of the essay. I had discovered the pleasure of           
writing, and to this day, whenever it rains, I feel the urge to write. Most of     
my books are written in winter. -- A Girl from Yamhill                             
In 1934, Beverly Bunn left home to attend college in California, which she         
imagined as the land of orange groves and movie stars, far removed from the         
hardships of the Depression. As a young woman "who was sure where she wanted to     
go but did not know if she could find the money to get there," she juggled         
studies of Chaucer and French grammar with the many chores that came with life     
in a student cooperative house. She also found time to eat a bacon and tomato       
sandwich with a quiet young man named Clarence Cleary.                             
The bells of the Campanile, and even the smell of catsup, lifted my spirits when   
I returned to Cal. Red roses from Clarence delivered by a florist, the wildest     
extravagance, lifted them even more. -- My Own Two Feet                             
After graduation from junior college in Ontario, California, and the University     
of California at Berkeley, Beverly Bunn entered the School of Librarianship at     
the University of Washington, Seattle. There she specialized in library work       
with children.                                                                     
Work as a librarian brought her into contact with all sorts of youngsters, from     
the children of the unemployed to the offspring of doctors and lawyers. But it     
was the children who built scooters out of apple boxes and roller skates who       
truly inspired her. They asked, "Where are the books about kids like us?" and       
the young librarian responded with her first book, about a boy named Henry who     
had a dog named Spareribs-later changed to Ribsy.                                   
What was writing for children but written story-telling? So in my imagination I     
stood once more before the yakima's story-hour crowd as I typed the first           
sentence: 'Henry Huggins' was in the third grade.'                                 
She was the Children's Librarian in Yakima, Washington, until she married           
Clarence Cleary and moved to California. The Clearys are the parents of twins,     
now grown.