Children’s History Book Writer, Jean Fritz, Dies Aged 101

By May 18, 2017Authors, News

Award winning writer, Jean Fritz, who is best known for her history books aimed at younger readers, has passed away at the age of 101. The writer was able to take stories from throughout history and turn them into tales that allowed youngsters to explore history without having to endure the dryer parts of the subject.

As the New York Times reports, Jean passed away on Sunday at her home in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y, at the age of 101. Her death was confirmed by her son, David Fritz. Fritz published over 48 books during her life and her work focused mainly on historical American figures from the 16th and 19th century.

Despite aiming her books towards young readers, Frtiz’s books were still very historically accurate and she even went as far as to attribute no dialogue to historical figures unless tit came from reliable sources such as diaries or letters. She also presented these figures as complex and flawed human beings rather than the perfect specimens history often presents us.

Her books include the likes of: And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? (1973); Why Don’t You Get a Horse, Sam Adams? (1974); and Where Was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May? (1975), Will You Sign Here, John Hancock? (1976), Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George? (1977), and Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution (1987).

Born in Hankow (now Hankou), China in 1916, as the only child of Arthur Minton Guttery, a Presbyterian missionary, and Myrtle Chaney. Fritza grew up to be a keen student of history, particularly her parent’s homeland.

“My interest in writing about American history stemmed originally, I think, from a subconscious desire to find roots,” Fritz is quoted saying in the reference work Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults. “I lived in China until I was 13, hearing constant talk about ‘home’ (meaning America), but since I had never been ‘home,’ I felt like a girl without a country.”

Fritz and her family returned to the United States in the 1920s were they settled in Connecticut. Fritz earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., and in 1941 married Michael Fritz. Jean Fritz is survived by her son, her daughter, and two grandchildren.

The Private Lives of Authors: Franz Kafka

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Franz Kafka (1883-1924) was a German speaking Jewish novelist born in Prague to a middle class family. His childhood was lonely despite being the eldest of six children; his two brothers unfortunately died in their infancy and the remaining children were mainly raised by governesses. Both parents worked hard in the family business and were consequently absent for much of the working week, leaving the household in the care of servants.

Kafka was a shy and introverted character, and an avid reader. He considered writers such as Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, and Heinrich Von Kleist to be “true blood brothers”. Kafka’s father expected him to take over the family goods business, however, after completing a degree in Law he worked for insurance companies, and started an asbestos factory with an acquaintance. He claimed to despise working just to pay bills and would much rather have spent his time writing. Illness plagued him through his adult life, with complications arising from tuberculosis keeping him from joining the military.

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Brambly Hedge Creator Jill Barklem Died Aged 66

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Born in Epping in 1951, Jill Barklem had a natural talent for art and drawing. He interest in the natural world became a real influence in her work, and after completing her study of illustration at St Martin’s in London, she went on to research extensively for her Brambly Hedge stories.

Her curiosity and interest in rural life bled into her quaint and sweet stories, accompanied by beautifully detailed images of anthropomorphised field mice and other hedgerow creatures.  Her Brambly Hedge stories were adored by many children growing up in the 80s and 90s from her first book ‘A Spring Story’ (1980) to ‘A Year in Brambly Hedge’ (2010). Her work was made into an animation in 1996, voiced by two British treasures- Jim Broadbent and June Whitfield.

After a long illness Jill died, aged 66, on November 16th 2017. The publisher’s staff at HarperCollins were all deeply saddened at the news of Barklem’s death. “Her exquisite Brambly Hedge stories have enchanted children and many adult admirers across the world for more than 35 years. Jill was a lovely person with a rare talent to turn her astute observation of the English countryside into an enchanting miniature world,” she said. “Her enduring stories about the mice of Brambly Hedge remain as beautiful today as when she first created them and will continue to be treasured by future generations.”

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Orwell Statue Unveiled at BBC Broadcasting House

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On the 7th November this year, a brand new statue of one of my all time favourite authors was unveiled outside the BBC’s London Head Quarters, at New Broadcasting House.

Eric Blair had worked at the BBC as a producer for the “Empire Service” over 70 years ago and some suggest that it is this time at the BBC that gave him the inspiration for room 101, in his now famous novel 1984 which he penned under the more familiar name George Orwell.

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10 Doris Lessing Quotes We Can All Relate To

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Doris May Lessing (22nd October 1919 – 17th November 2013) was a British novelist poet, playwright, and short story writer, best known for her novels including The Grass is Singing (USUK), and The Golden Notebook (USUK).

An early feminist, Lessing was awarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2007, described by the Swedish Academy as “that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny”. When met on the street by journalists and told she had won the prize, she responded “Oh, Christ!”. Read More

10 Moving Quotes from Chinua Achebe

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Chinua Achebe (16 November 1930 – 21 March 2013) was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor and critic, best known for his novel Things Fall Apart (USUK), considered to be the most widely read book in modern African Literature and winner of the Man Booker International Prize in 2007.

Achebe lived a fascinating life, growing up in South-Eastern Nigeria. He excelled at school and won a scholarship to study medicine but changed his studies to English Literature at University College, Ibadan. It was here he began writing stories, eventually gaining worldwide attention for his works. Read More

Final Paddington Bear Adventure to Be Published on the Anniversary of His Creator’s Death

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Michael Bond, the creator of the beloved Paddington Bear, sadly passed away earlier this year on 27 June at the age of 91. On the first anniversary of his death, Paddington’s last outing, which Bond was working on shortly before his passing, will be published.

“He was working on it very shortly before he died,” said Bond’s daughter, Karen Jankel. “It hadn’t been illustrated, but it was there in manuscript form, and it’s lovely … He kept that magic touch right until the end. He always had to be writing, it was always his way, right through his life.” Read More



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