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.

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