My Biography

Growing Up
I was born on the outer edge of the Great Depression into the flat, rural landscape of Ohio farm country. My mother's family had lived there since the late 1850s, when my grandfather, Levi Perry, escaped from slavery on the Underground Railroad. Both of my parents were enthusiastic readers and gifted storytellers. My mother could take a slice of fiction floating around the family and polish it into a saga. She had a quiet, determined way about her. She never tried to tell her children which way to go or which road to take. To her way of thinking, it was up to us to find out and pursue, and we did.

I've had many mentors besides my mother. All through my life, people have encouraged me and helped me along the way — teachers, librarians, local ministers. I was very active in my youth and always into things — public-speaking contests, singing locally at various public occasions, athletics. I was captain of the girls basketball team and president of my class. In my senior year, I wrote the class play and managed to get almost all of the football and basketball fellows to participate — no mean feat at the time!

Finding My Way
I received a scholarship to Antioch College in my hometown, Yellow Springs, Ohio. After college, I left my small Ohio town to seek my fortune and become a writer in the big city, New York. There I met and married poet and writer Arnold Adoff in 1960. After 15 years in New York, I returned to Ohio. I had found my way (publishing books!), and I could come home again.

I love my hometown. My husband and I built a house on the last few acres of my family farm. Here on this land is the best place for me to write. I have generations of memories. Being an Ohioan means that I am akin to the landscape and the Ohio sky. All of it feeds my heart and mind, and my writing.

My Life
There is no clear way to explain how it is that I never cease having new ideas for books nor the desire to work so intensely at writing them. But as raising a family and keeping up a working farm with my father was my mother's focus and heart, so writing is mine. It is what I do. I will continue to explore the known, the remembered, and the imagined, the literary triad of which every story is made.

I know I'm going to enjoy working with you in this workshop. I've been involved with young people since the beginning of my career, and have received and answered thousands of letters from kids. Now I also answer e-mail, and enjoy hearing from my online fans. I write for young people, in part, because I want you to learn to view writing as a pleasant, even inspiring part of your everyday life. My hope is that you will have as much fun writing as I do.

Visit My Web Site!
To find out more about me, visit my site on the World Wide Web. My "Home Page Away From Home" includes information about my upcoming appearances, a photo gallery, and awards and honors that I've won.

"Descriptive Writing with Virginia Hamilton" was written in 2001. Scholastic regrets to inform users that Ms. Hamilton died on February 19, 2002.