E. L. Konigsburg

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E. L. Konigsburg
BornElaine Lobl
(1930-02-10)February 10, 1930
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
DiedApril 19, 2013(2013-04-19) (aged 83)
Falls Church, Virginia, U.S.
OccupationWriter, illustrator
Alma mater Carnegie Institute of Technology
Genre Children's novels, short stories, picture books
Notable works
Notable awards Newbery Medal
1968, 1997
Phoenix Award
David Konigsburg
(m. 1952;his death 2001)

Elaine Lobl Konigsburg (February 10, 1930 – April 19, 2013) was an American writer and illustrator of children's books and young adult fiction. She is one of six writers to win two Newbery Medals, the venerable American Library Association award for the year's "most distinguished contribution to American children's literature." [1]

Childrens literature stories, books, and poems that are enjoyed by and targeted primarily towards children

Children's literature or juvenile literature includes stories, books, magazines, and poems that are enjoyed by children. Modern children's literature is classified in two different ways: genre or the intended age of the reader.

Young adult fiction (YA) is a category of fiction written for readers from 12 to 18 years of age. While the genre is targeted to teenagers, approximately half of YA readers are adults.

Newbery Medal annual award for writing a childrens book published in the United States

The John Newbery Medal, frequently shortened to the Newbery, is a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), to the author of "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children". The Newbery and the Caldecott Medal are considered the two most prestigious awards for children's literature in the United States. Books selected are widely carried by bookstores and libraries, the authors are interviewed on television, and master's and doctoral theses are written on them. Named for John Newbery, an 18th-century English publisher of juvenile books, the winner of the Newbery is selected at the ALA's Midwinter Conference by a fifteen-person committee. The Newbery was proposed by Frederic G. Melcher in 1921, making it the first children's book award in the world. The physical bronze medal was designed by Rene Paul Chambellan and is given to the winning author at the next ALA annual conference. Since its founding there have been several changes to the composition of the selection committee, while the physical medal remains the same.


Konigsburg submitted her first two manuscripts to editor Jean Karl at Atheneum Publishers in 1966, and both were published in 1967: Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler . [2] [3] They made her the only person to be Newbery Medal winner and one of the runners-up in one year. [lower-alpha 1] She won again for The View from Saturday in 1997, 29 years later, the longest span between two Newberys awarded to one author. [1]

Jean Edna Karl was an American book editor who specialized in children's and science fiction titles. She founded and led the children's division and young adult and science fiction imprints at Atheneum Books, where she oversaw or edited books that won two Caldecott Medals and five Newbery Medals. One of the Newberys went to the new writer E. L. Konigsburg in 1968 for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

Atheneum Books was a New York City publishing house established in 1959 by Alfred A. Knopf, Jr., Simon Michael Bessie and Hiram Haydn. Simon & Schuster has owned Atheneum properties since its acquisition of Macmillan in 1994 and it created Atheneum Books for Young Readers as an imprint for children's books in the 2000s.

<i>Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth</i> novel by E. L. Konigsburg

Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth is a children's novel by E. L. Konigsburg. It was published by Atheneum Books in 1967 and next year in the UK by Macmillan under the title Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth and Me.

For her contribution as a children's writer Konigsburg was U.S. nominee in 2006 for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international recognition available to creators of children's books. [4]

Hans Christian Andersen Award biennial awards to an illustrator and a writer of childrens literature

The Hans Christian Andersen Awards are two literary awards by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY), recognising one living author and one living illustrator for their "lasting contribution to children's literature". The writing award was inaugurated in 1956, the illustration award in 1966. The former is sometimes called the "Nobel Prize for children's literature".


Elaine Lobl was born in New York City on February 10, 1930, [5] [6] but grew up in small Pennsylvania towns, the second of three daughters. [5] She was born to two Jewish immigrants who moved from New York City to a mill town in Pennsylvania. [7] She was an avid reader, although reading was only "tolerated" in her family, "not sanctioned like dusting furniture or baking cookies". [6] She was high school valedictorian in Farrell, Pennsylvania, where there was no guidance counseling and she never heard of scholarships. [6] To earn money for college, she worked as a bookkeeper at a meat plant, where she met David Konigsburg, the brother of one of the owners.

Valedictorian is an academic title of success used in the United States, Canada, Philippines, and Armenia for the student who delivers the closing or farewell statement at a graduation ceremony. The chosen valedictorian is traditionally the student with the highest ranking among their graduating class. The term is an Anglicised derivation of the Latin vale dicere, historically rooted in the valedictorian's traditional role as the final speaker at the graduation ceremony before the students receive their diplomas. The valedictory address generally is considered a final farewell to classmates, before they disperse to pursue their individual paths after graduating.

Farrell, Pennsylvania City in Pennsylvania, United States

Farrell is a city in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 5,111 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The role of a school counselor is critical. A school counselor works in primary schools and/or secondary schools to provide academic, career, college access/affordability/admission, and social-emotional competencies to all students through a school counseling program. The roles of school counselors are expanding and changing with time As roles change, counselors are adjusting to figure out best ways to help students prosper in the academic field along with how to flourish in other aspects of life. School counselors help with academics but also are able to help reduce and bridge the inequalities that are standing between student and education.

Elaine entered Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh and majored in chemistry, with her "artistic side ... essentially dormant", because she was good at it and the purpose of college was "to become a something—a librarian, a teacher, a chemist, a something". [6] She became the first person in her family to earn a degree. [8] After graduating, Elaine married David, who was then a graduate student in psychology. She started graduate school in chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh (1952 to 1954 [6] ) but they moved to Jacksonville, Florida after he attained his doctorate. She worked as a science teacher at Bartram School for Girls until 1955; became the mother of three children, Paul, Laurie, and Ross (1955 to 1959 [6] ); began painting at adult education after two children; and planned for the time they would all be in school. [9]

Pittsburgh City in western Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh is a city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States, and is the county seat of Allegheny County. A population of about 301,048 residents live within the city limits, making it the 66th-largest city in the U.S. The metropolitan population of 2,324,743 is the largest in both the Ohio Valley and Appalachia, the second-largest in Pennsylvania, and the 27th-largest in the U.S.

University of Pittsburgh American state-related research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The University of Pittsburgh is a state-related research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was founded as the Pittsburgh Academy in 1787 on the edge of the American frontier. It developed and was renamed as Western University of Pennsylvania by a change to its charter in 1819. After surviving two devastating fires and various relocations within the area, the school moved to its current location in the Oakland neighborhood of the city; it was renamed as the University of Pittsburgh in 1908. Pitt was a private institution until 1966 when it became part of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education.

Jacksonville, Florida Largest city in Florida

Jacksonville is the most populous city in Florida, the most populous city in the southeastern United States and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. It is the seat of Duval County, with which the city government consolidated in 1968. Consolidation gave Jacksonville its great size and placed most of its metropolitan population within the city limits. As of 2017, Jacksonville's population was estimated to be 892,062. The Jacksonville metropolitan area has a population of 1,523,615 and is the fourth largest in Florida.

Konigsburg took the new direction after the family moved to Port Chester in Greater New York (1962 [6] ), where she continued art lessons and joined the Art Students League. [9] She began to write in the mornings when her third child started school. [9] Her first-published story Jennifer, Hecate was inspired by Laurie's experience as a new girl in Port Chester. Mixed-Up Files was inspired by her children's complaints about a picnic with many amenities of home; she inferred that if they ever ran away "[t]hey would certainly never consider any place less elegant than the Metropolitan Museum of Art." [5]

Port Chester, New York Village in New York, United States

Port Chester is a village in Westchester County, New York, United States. The village is part of the town of Rye. As of the 2010 census, Port Chester had a population of 28,967. Port Chester borders on the State of Connecticut to the east. The village's name is pronounced with the same stress pattern as the county's, i.e., "PORT ches-ter", not "Port CHES-ter".

New York metropolitan area Megacity in the United States

The New York metropolitan area is the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass, at 4,495 sq mi (11,640 km2). The metropolitan area includes New York City, Long Island, and the Mid and Lower Hudson Valley in the state of New York; the five largest cities in New Jersey: Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, and Edison, and their vicinities; six of the seven largest cities in Connecticut: Bridgeport, New Haven, Stamford, Waterbury, Norwalk, and Danbury, and their vicinities.

Konigsburg learned of those first two books' 1968 Newbery Award and honorable mention during her family's move back from Port Chester to Jacksonville. [6] When she composed her autobiographical statement for The Book of Junior Authors (2000), she lived "on the beach in North Florida". The pieces of The View From Saturday (1996) had come together when she "left my desk and took a walk along the beach". [5]

As summarized by critic Marah Gubar, "For five decades, Konigsburg challenged readers by tackling subjects often avoided in children’s books, from the undercurrent of hostility that runs through an interracial friendship to the domestic unrest generated by the stirrings of pubescent and parental sexuality... Konigsburg was committed to depicting young people as capable knowers of what goes on in their own minds, homes, and the wider world they inhabit. Bad things happen in her novels when adult characters fail to respect this competence. At the same time, however, Konigsburg emphasizes that all knowledge is perspectival; the particular social position that each of us inhabits shapes what we know and how we come to know it." [7]

Along with chapter books, some of which she has illustrated, Konigsburg is the writer and illustrator of three 1990s picture books "featuring her own grandchildren": Samuel Todd's Book of Great Colors, Samuel Todd's Book of Great Inventions, and Amy Elizabeth Explores Bloomingdale's. [3] [5]

Personal life

In 1952, she married David Konigsburg, with whom she had three children, Paul (born 1955), Laurie (born 1956), and Ross (born 1959). As of 2002, she had five grandchildren, Samuel Todd and Amy Elizabeth being the eldest children of Laurie and Ross. Her husband, David Konigsburg, died in 2001. [3]

Konigsburg died in Falls Church, Virginia, on April 19, 2013, from complications of a stroke that she had suffered a week prior. Konigsburg was 83. [10]

Konigsburg was a longtime resident of Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. [11]


Many of Konigsburg's stories feature childhood and adolescent struggles that are easy for school-age readers to understand. Often her characters are striving to find the answers to big questions that will help shape their identities. Many of them are based on her own experiences as a child, the observations she made of children while a teacher, and the experiences or observations of her children. [5]

Especially her characters are "softly comfortable on the outside and solidly uncomfortable on the inside". [8] Teaching at Bartram, she learned that supposed "spoiled young women who had it all [actually] had all the creature comforts of the world, but ... were just as uncomfortable inside as I was when I was growing up." [6] Later she realized that her own children were middle-class suburban kids with comforts unlike her own. She has written about "their kind of growing up, something that addressed the problems that come about even though you don't have to worry if you wear out your shoes whether your parents can buy you a new pair, something that tackles the basic problems of who am I?" [6]

She has told Scholastic Teachers, "The essential problems remain the same. The kids I write about are asking for the same things I wanted. They want two contradictory things. They want to be the same as everyone else, and they want to be different from everyone else.They want acceptance for both." [9]


Konigsburg is the author of the following books; those she illustrated are noted ("illus. ELK"). [lower-alpha 2] She said that Father's Arcane Daughter is sometimes her favorite book and Eleanor of Aquitaine is her character that she would most like to meet. [9] Her work has been translated and published in multiple languages, including Korean.[ citation needed ]


Beside audiobook recordings, four of Konigsburg's novels have been adapted and produced as movies or plays. [lower-alpha 2]


Two books by Konigsburg were finalists for the National Book Award in "Children's" categories (1969 to 1983), the historical novel A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver in 1974 [14] and the short story collection Throwing Shadows in 1980. [15] A Proud Taste was the 1993 Phoenix Award runner-up and Throwing Shadows won the 1999 Phoenix. That Children's Literature Association award recognizes the best children's book published twenty years earlier that did not win a major award; it is named for the mythical bird phoenix, which is reborn from its ashes, to suggest the winning book's rise from obscurity. [16]

See also


  1. Award dates 1968. The Newbery Honor was initiated for the 1970/71 cycle and Newbery Honors for books published before 1970 were named in retrospect.
  2. 1 2 The biographical essay "E(laine) L(obl) Konigsburg 1930–" identifies all the works illustrated by Konigsburg herself, the alternative titles of UK editions, the adaptations listed here, and audio recordings not listed here.

Related Research Articles

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1967.

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Marguerite Henry American writer

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<i>From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler</i> Novel by E. L. Konigsburg

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a novel by E. L. Konigsburg. It was published by Atheneum in 1967, the second book published from two manuscripts the new writer had submitted to editor Jean E. Karl.

Nancy Farmer is an American author of children's and young adult books and science fiction. She has written three Newbery Honor Books and won the U.S. National Book Award for Young People's Literature for The House of the Scorpion, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers in 2002.

<i>The View from Saturday</i> novel by E. L. Konigsburg

The View from Saturday is a children's novel by E. L. Konigsburg, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers in 1996. It won the 1997 Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature, the author's second Medal.

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<i>From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler</i> (1995 film) 1995 television film

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a 1995 American made-for-television comedy-drama film based on E.L. Konigsburg's novel of the same name. The story is about a girl and her brother who run away from home to live in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and discover what they think is a lost treasure. The children, Claudia and Jamie, are transfixed with the treasure and won't leave without knowing what its secret is. Lauren Bacall stars in the title role.

<i>From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler</i> (1973 film) 1973 film by Fielder Cook

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a 1973 American children's film based on E.L. Konigsburg's novel From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. It tells the story of a girl and her brother who run away from home to live in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and discover what they think is a lost treasure. For home video releases, the film was retitled The Hideaways.

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<i>The Second Mrs. Giaconda</i> novel by E. L. Konigsburg

The Second Mrs. Giaconda, later The Second Mrs. Gioconda, is a historical novel for children by E. L. Konigsburg. Set primarily in Milan, Italy, it features Leonardo da Vinci, his servant Salai, and duchess Beatrice d'Este. Through the experiences of Salai narrated in third person, it explores the background of da Vinci's Mona Lisa.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922–Present". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). American Library Association (ALA).
      "The John Newbery Medal". ALSC. ALA. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
  2. Ross Lipson, Eden (April 3, 2000). "Jean Karl, 72; A Publisher Of Books For Children". The New York Times . Retrieved October 21, 2011.
  3. 1 2 3 Mixed-Up Files, 35th anniversary ed., Afterword.
  4. "IBBY Announces the Winners of the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 2006". International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Press release 27 March 2006.
      "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". IBBY. Retrieved 2013-07-22.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Konigsburg, E. L." Archived March 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine . Autobiographical statement from Connie Rockman, ed., Eighth Book of Junior Authors and Illustrators, Wilson, 2000 ( ISBN   0-8242-0968-0). CMS Library Information Center. Coleytown Middle School. Westport, CT. Retrieved 2014-03-05.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "E(laine) L(obl) Konigsburg 1930–" Archived March 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine . CMS Library Information Center. Coleytown Middle School. Westport CT. Retrieved 2014-03-05.
      Reprint from: "E(laine) L(obl) Konigsburg." U*X*L Junior DISCovering Authors. U*X*L, 1998. Reproduced in Junior Reference Collection. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale Group. September, 1999. http://www.galenet.com/servlet/JRC/
  7. 1 2 Gubar, Marah. "The Mixed-Up kids of Mrs. E.L. Konigsburg". Publicbooks.org. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  8. 1 2 "Meet the Author: E. L. Konigsburg". No date. Houghton Mifflin Reading. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "E. L. Konigsburg, Interview Transcript" Archived February 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine . No date. Scholastic Teachers. scholastic.com. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
  10. "E.L. Konigsburg Dead: Award-winning children's book author dies". Associated Press. April 21, 2013. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  11. "Jewish Museum of Florida- FIU".
  12. See The Second Mrs. Giaconda, Citations and Notes.
  13. http://phibetakappa.tumblr.com/post/163147279508/from-the-mixed-up-files-of-mrs-basil-e
  14. "National Book Awards – 1974". National Book Foundation (NBF). Retrieved 2012-03-12.
  15. "National Book Awards – 1980". NBF. Retrieved 2012-03-12.
  16. "Phoenix Award Brochure 2012" [ permanent dead link ]. Children's Literature Association. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
    See also the current homepage, "Phoenix Award" Archived March 20, 2012, at the Wayback Machine .