Judy Blume

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Judy Blume
Blume at a book signing in 2009
BornJudith Sussman
(1938-02-12) February 12, 1938 (age 81)
Elizabeth, New Jersey, U.S.
OccupationWriter, teacher
Alma mater New York University
Genre Realist young adult novels, children's books
Notable works
Notable awards Margaret Edwards Award
  • John M. Blume (1959–1975; divorced; 2 children)
  • Thomas A. Kitchens (1976–1978; divorced)
  • George Cooper (1987–present; 1 stepdaughter)

Judy Blume (born Judith Sussman; February 12, 1938) is an American writer of children's and young adult (YA) fiction. [1] Some of her best known works are Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret (1970), Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972), Deenie (1973), and Blubber (1974). The New Yorker has called her books "talismans that, for a significant segment of the American female population, marked the passage from childhood to adolescence." [2]

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.

<i>Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing</i> book by Judy Blume

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is a children's novel written by American author Judy Blume and published in 1972. It is the first in the Fudge Series and was followed by Superfudge, Fudge-a-Mania, and Double Fudge (2002). Although Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great features many of the same characters as the series, it does not fit exactly in the continuity of it because, as a spin-off, it only focuses on Peter's classmate, Sheila Tubman.

<i>Deenie</i> novel by Judy Blume

Deenie is a 1973 young adult novel written by Judy Blume.


Publishing her first novel in 1969, Blume was one of the first authors to write YA novels about topics that some still consider to be taboo [3] [4] including masturbation, menstruation, teen sex, birth control, and death. She was a catalyst for the movement of controversial topics being expressed in children's and/or YA literature. Blume expressed how adults were not honest with her about this information she shares with her readers. [5] This has led to criticism from individuals and groups that would like to see her books banned. [6] This controversy has led to the American Library Association (ALA) naming Blume as one of the most frequently challenged authors of the 21st century. [7]

Masturbation sexual stimulation of ones own genitals

Masturbation is the sexual stimulation of one's own genitals for sexual arousal or other sexual pleasure, usually to the point of orgasm. The stimulation may involve hands, fingers, everyday objects, sex toys such as vibrators, or combinations of these. Manual stimulation of a partner, such as fingering, a handjob or mutual masturbation, is a common sexual act and can be a substitute for penetration. Studies have found that masturbation is frequent in humans of both sexes and all ages, although there is variation. Various medical and psychological benefits have been attributed to a healthy attitude toward sexual activity in general and to masturbation in particular. No causal relationship is known between masturbation and any form of mental or physical disorder.

Menstruation Regular discharge of blood and tissue from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina

Menstruation, also known as a period or monthly, is the regular discharge of blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina. The first period usually begins between twelve and fifteen years of age, a point in time known as menarche. However, periods may occasionally start as young as eight years old and still be considered normal. The average age of the first period is generally later in the developing world, and earlier in the developed world. The typical length of time between the first day of one period and the first day of the next is 21 to 45 days in young women, and 21 to 31 days in adults. Bleeding usually lasts around 2 to 7 days. Menstruation stops occurring after menopause, which usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age. Periods also stop during pregnancy and typically do not resume during the initial months of breastfeeding.

Birth control Method of preventing human pregnancy

Birth control, also known as contraception and fertility control, is a method or device used to prevent pregnancy. Birth control has been used since ancient times, but effective and safe methods of birth control only became available in the 20th century. Planning, making available, and using birth control is called family planning. Some cultures limit or discourage access to birth control because they consider it to be morally, religiously, or politically undesirable.

Despite her critics, Blume's books have sold over 82 million copies and they've been translated into 32 languages. [8] She has won a number of awards for her writing, including ALA's Margaret A. Edwards Award for her contributions to young adult literature. [6] She was recognized as a Library of Congress Living Legend and she was awarded the 2004 National Book Foundation medal for distinguished contribution to American letters. [4] [6]

A Library of Congress Living Legend is someone recognized by the Library of Congress for his or her creative contributions to American life. Those honored include artists, writers, activists, film makers, physicians, entertainers, sports figures, and public servants. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden retired the program in 2018.

National Book Foundation non-profit organisation in the USA

The National Book Foundation (NBF) is an American nonprofit organization established "to raise the cultural appreciation of great writing in America". Established 1989 by National Book Awards, Inc., the foundation is the administrator and sponsor of the National Book Awards, a changing set of literary awards inaugurated 1936 and continuous from 1950. It also organizes and sponsors public and educational programs.

Early life

Blume was born on February 12, 1938, and raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the daughter of homemaker Esther (née Rosenfeld) and dentist Rudolph Sussman. [6] She has a brother, David, who is five years older. Her family was Jewish. [9] Blume has recalled, "I spent most of my childhood making up stories inside of my head." She graduated from Battin High School in 1956, then enrolled in Boston University. In the first semester, she was diagnosed with mononucleosis and took a brief leave from school [10] before graduating from New York University in 1961 with a bachelor's degree in Education. [8] [10] In 1951 and 1952, there were three airplane crashes in her hometown of Elizabeth. 118 people died in the crashes, and Blume’s father, who was a dentist, helped to identify the unrecognizable remains. Blume says she "buried" these memories until she began writing her 2015 novel In the Unlikely Event , the plot of which revolves around the crashes. [11]

Elizabeth, New Jersey City in Union County, New Jersey, U.S.

Elizabeth is both the largest city and the county seat of Union County, in New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city had a total population of 124,969, retaining its ranking as New Jersey's fourth most populous city, behind Paterson. The population increased by 4,401 (3.7%) from the 120,568 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 10,566 (+9.6%) from the 110,002 counted in the 1990 Census. For 2018, the Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program calculated a population of 128,885, an increase of 3.1% from the 2010 enumeration, ranking the city the 215th-most-populous in the nation.

New Jersey U.S. state in the United States

New Jersey is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is a peninsula, bordered on the north and east by the state of New York; on the east, southeast, and south by the Atlantic Ocean; on the west by the Delaware River and Pennsylvania; and on the southwest by the Delaware Bay and Delaware. New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state by area but the 11th-most populous, with 9 million residents as of 2017, making it the most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states with its biggest city being Newark. New Jersey lies completely within the combined statistical areas of New York City and Philadelphia. New Jersey was the second-wealthiest U.S. state by median household income as of 2017.

Battin High School

Battin High School was a public high school in Elizabeth, in Union County, New Jersey, United States, which operated as part of the Elizabeth Public Schools. The school opened in 1889 as a coeducational institution. After converting to a girls-only school in 1929, it operated on a single-sex basis for 48 years until the end of the 1976–77 school year, ending its status as one half of the state's only pair of public high schools operated separately for male and female students.


A lifelong avid reader, Blume first began writing when her children were attending preschool, [12] and she was living in the New Jersey communities of Plainfield and Scotch Plains. [13] She published her first book, The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo , in 1969. The decade that followed proved to be her most prolific, with 13 more books being published, including many of her most well-known titles, such as Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. (1970), Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972), Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great (1972), and Blubber (1974). [14]

Plainfield, New Jersey City in Union County, New Jersey, U.S.

Plainfield is a city in Union County, New Jersey, United States, known by its nickname as "The Queen City." As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population increased to 49,808, its highest ever recorded population in any decennial census, with the population having increased by 1,979 (+4.1%) from the 47,829 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 1,262 (+2.7%) from the 46,567 counted in the 1990 Census.

Scotch Plains, New Jersey Township in Union County, New Jersey, U.S.

Scotch Plains is a township in Union County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 Census, the township's population was 23,510, reflecting an increase of 778 (+3.4%) from the 22,732 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 1,572 (+7.4%) from the 21,160 counted in 1990.

<i>The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo</i> book by Judy Blume

The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo is a children's book published in 1969, written by Judy Blume with illustrations by Amy Aitken. It was Blume's first published work. It is about second-grader Freddy Dissel, a middle child who feels emotionally squashed between his older brother, Mike, and his younger sister, Ellen. He doesn't seem to get much attention, until he lands a role in a school play as a green kangaroo.

After publishing novels for young children and teens, Blume tackled another genre—adult reality and death. Her novels Wifey (1978) and Smart Women (1983) reached the top of The New York Times Best Seller list. Wifey became a bestseller with over 4 million copies sold. Blume's third adult novel, Summer Sisters (1998), was widely praised and sold more than three million copies. [15] It spent 5 months on The New York Times Bestseller list, [16] with the hardcover reaching #3 [17] and the paperback spent several weeks at #1. [18] [19] Several of Blume's books appear on the list of top all-time bestselling children's books. [20]

<i>Wifey</i> (novel) 1978 novel

Wifey is a 1978 American novel by Judy Blume.

<i>Smart Women</i> novel by Judy Blume

Smart Women is a 1983 novel by Judy Blume that tells the story of a divorcee who falls for her friend's ex-husband.

The New York Times Best Seller list is widely considered the preeminent list of best-selling books in the United States. Published weekly in The New York Times Book Review, the best-seller list has been published in the Times since October 12, 1931. In recent years it has evolved into multiple lists in different categories, broken down by fiction and non-fiction, hardcover, paperback, and electronic, and different genres.

Blume's books have sold over 82 million copies and they've been translated into 32 languages. [8] Judy Blume has won more than 90 literary awards, including three lifetime achievement awards in the US. The ALA Margaret A. Edwards Award recognizes one writer and a particular body of work for "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature". [6] Blume won the annual award in 1996 citing the single book Forever, published in 1975. According to the citation, "She broke new ground in her frank portrayal of Michael and Katherine, high school seniors who are in love for the first time. Their love and sexuality are described in an open, realistic manner and with great compassion." [4] In April 2000 the Library of Congress named her to its Living Legends in the Writers and Artists category for her significant contributions to America's cultural heritage. [21] In 2004 she received the annual Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Medal of the National Book Foundation as someone who "has enriched [American] literary heritage over a life of service, or a corpus of work." [22] [23]

The film version of Blume's 1981 novel Tiger Eyes was directed by the author's son, Lawrence Blume. Released in 2012, it stars Willa Holland as Davey and Amy Jo Johnson as Gwen Wexler. [24]

Blume has championed intellectual freedom throughout her career, serving as an advocate against book banning and media censorship. In the 1980's, she began reaching out to other writers, as well as teachers and librarians, to join the cause. This led to Blume joining the National Coalition Against Censorship. All of her efforts go into helping protect the freedom to read. She is also the founder and trustee of a charitable and education foundation, called "The Kids Fund." Blume serves on the board for other organizations such as, "the Author's Guild; the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators; the Key West Literary Seminar; and the National Coalition Against Censorship." [8] [10]

In October 2017, Yale University acquired Blume's archive, which included some unpublished early work. [25]

Personal life

Marriages and family

On August 15, 1959, in the summer of her senior year of college, she married John M. Blume, whom she had met while a student at New York University. He became a lawyer, while she was a homemaker before supporting her family by teaching and writing. [26] They had two children: Randy, a therapist [27] (born 1961); and Lawrence Andrew, a filmmaker (born 1963). The couple were divorced in 1975. [28] Blume later described the marriage as "suffocating", although she maintained her first husband's surname. [29] [30] Blume has stated that Lawrence was the inspiration for the character of "Fudge." Blume has one grandchild from her daughter, Randy - a grandson named Elliot Blume-Pickle. Elliot is credited with encouraging his grandmother to write the most recent "Fudge" books. [31]

Shortly after her separation, she met Thomas A. Kitchens, a physicist. The couple married in 1976, and they moved to New Mexico for Kitchens' work. They divorced in 1978. She later spoke about their split: "It was a disaster, a total disaster. After a couple years, I got out. I cried every day. Anyone who thinks my life is cupcakes is all wrong." [29]

A mutual friend introduced her to George Cooper, a former law professor turned non-fiction writer. Blume and Cooper were married in 1987. [32] Cooper has one daughter, Amanda, from a previous marriage. They reside in Key West. [8] [33]


Blume announced she was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2012 after undergoing a routine ultrasound as she was preparing to leave for a five-week trip to Italy. She stated that she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer 17 years earlier, and had a subsequent hysterectomy. [34]


Blume's novels for teenagers tackled racism ( Iggie's House ), menstruation ( Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. ), divorce ( It's Not the End of the World , Just as Long as We're Together ), bullying ( Blubber ), masturbation ( Deenie , Then Again, Maybe I Won't ), sexuality ( Forever ), and family issues ( Here's to You, Rachel Robinson ). Blume has used these subjects to generate discussion, but they have also been the source of controversy regarding age-appropriate reading. [7]

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Further reading