If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you may have noticed I like to write about other authors, note their birthdays, and their passing. So with that, today’s entry is dedicated to birthday girl Elizabeth George Speare (1908-1994). I have a particular fondness for her, for several reasons.
Number one of course is I loved her books as a child. I’ve mentioned previously how much I loved “The Witch of Blackbird Pond”, but also “Calico Captive”, and one of the ones I remember best from my childhood (and I read a lot, even then).
Secondly, she was born not too far from where I was. She was a New England girl (I also have a special place in my heart for New England writers), and if you were fortunate enough to have lived in New England, you will very likely share the love for it that Mrs. Speare had, and I have. I think it’s one of those places that imprints on your soul, and if you connect to it it will always be part of you. I have been gone from there for many many years now, but in my heart it is still “home”. She said it was an ideal place to grow up, and to my mind it still was when I grew up there. For me, there was a sense of foundation, of belonging, that I have experienced nowhere else that I have ever lived. Maybe you only really connect to one place in your life. If so, New England is it for me, and was apparently also for Elizabeth. Like her life in Melrose, I had fields and woods (and even a swamp) to hike and explore, and have adventures in. I only regret that my own children did not grow up in such a place.
Born November 15, 1908, Elizabeth started writing at a very young age (eight-years-old), but like so many women her own dreams were put on hold to raise her family. Her writing career did not really begin until her children were older and in school (junior high). She earned two Newbery Medals, among other awards. Her books may be largely forgotten in the years since they were published, but I hope not. While they are childrens’ books, if you haven’t read them you might still enjoy them. I will be re-reading my two favs, it has been far too long. I would love to see PBS or someone do a dramatization of “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” (just please, not Disney. I would have to claw my eyes out if Miley Cyrus were to be cast as Kit). This was a rich historical time, with repercussions down the centuries but maybe period pieces aren’t hip enough anymore.