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Elizabeth George Speare Edit Profile


Elizabeth George Speare was an American writer of children's books, best known for historical novels including two Newbery Medal winners.


Speare, Elizabeth George was born on November 21, 1908 in Melrose, Massachusetts, United States. Daughter of Harry Allan and Demetria (Simmons) George.


Student, Smith College, 1927. AB, Boston University, 1930. Master of Arts, Boston University, 1932.


She has been called one of America's 100 most popular writers for children and some of her work has become mandatory reading in many schools throughout the nation. Indeed, because her books have sold so well she is also cited as one of the Educational Paperback Association's top 100 authors. Speare is one of six writers with two Newbery Medals recognizing the year's "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children".

Speare lived much of her life in New England, the setting for many of her books. Speare discovered her gift for writing at the age of eight and began composing stories while still in high school. After completing her Bachelor of Arts degree at Smith College in 1930, she earned her Master's degree in English from Boston University and taught English at several private Massachusetts high schools from 1932 to 1936.

She also wrote many other magazine articles based on her experiences as a mother, and even experimented with one-act plays. Eventually her work saw circulation in Better Homes and Gardens, Woman's Day, Parents, and American Heritage. Speare's first book, Calico Captive, was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1957.

It features a colonial New Hampshire family kidnapped by native Americans in 1754. Ideas and inspiration for both books came to Speare while she was researching the history of New England and Connecticut, respectively. In 1989 the professional children's librarians awarded Speare the Wilder Medal, which recognizes a living author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made "a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children".

At the time it was awarded every three years. Speare died of an aortic aneurysm on November 15, 1994 in Northwest General Hospital in Tucson, Arizona.


  • In 1989 she received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for her contributions to American children's literature. The next year she completed her second historical novel, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, which won numerous awards including the Newbery Medal. She earned her second Newbery Medal for her third book, The Bronze Bow, published in 1961.

    The Sign of the Beaver (1984) was a Newbery Honor winner and won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction and the Christopher Award.



Member Authors Guild.


Married Alden Speare, September 26, 1936. Children– Alden, Mary Elizabeth.

Harry Allan George

Demetria (Simmons) George

Alden Speare

Alden Speare

Mary Elizabeth Speare