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Elizabeth Enright

Elizabeth Enright was a multi-award-winning American writer of Thimble Summer fame.

Biographical fast facts

Date and place of birth: September 17, 1909, Oak Park, near Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Date and place of death: June 8, 1968, Wainscott, Long Island, New York, U.S.A. *

Husband: Robert Marty Gillham (m. April 24, 1930)

Sons: Nicholas Wright Gillham (b. May 14, 1932, New York City, New York)
Oliver Gillham (b. January 2, 1949)
Robert Gillham II

Father: Walter Joseph Enright (a political cartoonist) (b. July 3, 1875 or 1879, Chicago, Illinois - d. 1969, Delray Beach, Florida)
Mother: Maginel (Wright) Enright (b. June 19, 1881, Weymouth, Massachusetts, U.S.A. - d. April 18, 1966, East Hampton, New York, U.S.A.) (a magazine illustrator)

Burial site: Elizabeth Enright is buried near her uncle Frank Lloyd Wright's farm, in Spring Green, in the Wyoming Valley region of Wisconsin.

Error corrections or clarifications

* The town in which she died is properly spelled Wainscott, New York. Some sources erroneously spell it with just one "t" as a result of the spelling of wainscot or wainscoting.

NOTE: At least one source erroneously reports she studied art at "Parson's School of Design in New York City." In point of fact, the Parson's School of Design Elizabeth Enright attended, was in Paris, France.

Career - Selected writing credits

With her father being a noted political cartoonist and her mother a magazine illustrator, it's understandable that Elizabeth began drawing at an early age and continued her passion for art throughout her life. Upon graduating high school, she studied at the Art Students League of New York (1927-28), then moved on to Parsons School of Design in Paris. Enright began her professional career as a magazine illustrator, then advanced to illustrating children's books. When she added stories to accompany her drawings, she discovered that she preferred writing over illustrating. While she shifted her primary focus to writing, she did continue to provide all illustrations for her books into the early 1950s, at which time she handed that duty to others.

Her second children's book as both author and illustrator, Thimble Summer (1938), garnered national recognition in 1939 when she was awarded the prestigious Newbery Medal. It has remained a perennial favorite for generations of children, having been reprinted many times over the years. Her rich, vivid descriptions of the country landscape, characters and situations in Thimble Summer, won the praise of critics as well as young readers. In it she accurately recreated moods and images that reflected the many summers she personally spent at her uncle's farm in Wisconsin. Said uncle was none other than famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Much of her work proved particularly appealing to young female readers, who found her strong, youthful heroines, refreshing in the late 1930s.

Other books include, Kintu: A Congo Adventure (1935), The Sea Is All Around (1940), The Saturdays (1941), The Four-Story Mistake (1942), Then There Were Five (1944), Borrowed Summer and Other Stories (1946), Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze (1951), The Moment Before the Rain (1955), Gone-Away Lake (1957), The Riddle of the Fly and Other Stories (1959), Return to Gone-Away (1961) and Doublefields: Memories and Stories (1966). Her final two children's books were fairy tales, Tatsinda (1963) and Zeee (1965). Her children's books were self-illustrated until 1951. Some of the author's short stories first appeared on the pages of magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Saturday Evening Post, New Yorker, Redbook, Ladies' Home Journal, Yale Review, Mademoiselle, Harper's and McCall's.

Beyond her fictional writing, she reviewed children's literature for the New York Times, lectured on creative writing at Barnard College from 1960 to 1962 and participated in writing seminars at colleges across America.

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