Author Judith Sussman (more commonly known as Judy Blume) was born on February 12, 1938, in Elizabeth, NJ. Blume’s parents encouraged her creativity as a child, persuading her to participate in a variety of activities, including piano and dance lessons. She also enjoyed reading and would always create stories in her head.
Blume attended Battin High School, an all-girls school in her hometown, before enrolling at Boston University. Two weeks into her freshman year of college, though, Blume became ill and was forced to leave the university. She resumed her education at New York University, where she met her future husband, John Blume. They married in 1959, and two years later, Judy Blume received a degree in education.
After Blume had her two children – daughter Randy and son Lawrence – she decided to take a writing course at her alma mater. She used the skills she gained from the course to pursue a career in writing. Blume endured years of rejections from publishers before her first children’s book, The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo, was published in 1969. The next year, she published a young adult novel titled Iggie’s House, and that same year, she published her first big hit, a coming-of-age story entitled Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.
Blume quickly became a major author for young readers. She would often tap into her childhood and teenage years to craft endearing tales about a range of sensitive issues, including body image, teenage sexuality, childhood angst and family matters. Many of her books, including Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Deenie, Blubber, and Forever…, which were all published in the 1970s, are still relevant and read by countless young readers today.
In the late 1970s, Judy Blume divorced her husband and quickly remarried before divorcing again. In 1978, she published her first adult novel, Wifey, which directly addressed adult lives and sexuality. Though she did publish a second adult novel, Smart Women, a few years later, Blume continued to write stories for children and young adults, including Superfudge, a sequel to Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.
Though her young adult works were always favorites among young readers, some of Blume’s books have been targeted by censors. As a result, Blume became a member of the National Coalition Against Censorship to speak out against censorship, as it conflicts with intellectual freedom.
In 1996, Judy Blume received the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Library Association; four years later, the Library of Congress awarded her with its Living Legends Award. She has been happily married to former law professor George Cooper for the past 30 years and currently splits her time between New York City, Martha’s Vineyard and Key West.
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- Carl Lender / Wikimedia Commons (original source: Flickr)