Saturday, March 12, 2016

Birthday Book of the Day: Virginia Hamilton's The People Could Fly

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Today Henry Bemis Books remembers the African-American writer Virginia Hamilton:

Virginia Hamilton, The People Could Fly (Knopf, 1st ed., 11th printing, 1993). ISBN 0-394-86925-7. Newberry Medal and Coretta Scott King Award-winning author Hamilton brings 24 classic African-American folk tales to life, aided by forty illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon, Caldecott Medal winners. A remarkable, delightful work. Hardcover, unclipped dust jacket with a few slight nicks; very good condition. Please message us for pricing, obo.

Celebrating her birthday, The Writer’s Almanac says:

It's the birthday of children's author Virginia Hamilton (1934). She was the youngest of the five children Kenneth Hamilton and Etta Perry Hamilton raised on a farm near Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Hamilton's grandfather, Levi Perry, was an escaped slave. He came to southern Ohio via the Underground Railroad in the late 1850s. Virginia was named for her grandfather's home state.

Virginia grew up in the embrace of a large extended family. The family was full of tale-weavers. Her grandfather "sat his ten children down every year and said, 'I'm going to tell you how I escaped from slavery, so slavery will never happen to you.'" Hamilton called her parents "unusually fine storytellers." They encouraged her to read — and were not surprised when the child began writing her own stories.

In 1958, after college, Hamilton moved to New York. She held a variety of jobs there, including accountant and nightclub singer, while she pursued her dream of writing. She also met and married poet Arnold Adoff and had two children. In 1969, the family settled permanently in Yellow Springs, on a corner of the old family farm.

Hamilton wrote 41 published books for children and young adults, including The House of Dies Drear (1968), The Planet of Junior Brown (1971), M.C. Higgins, the Great (1974), Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush (1982), and Her Stories (1995). M.C. Higgins, the Great, an Appalachian coming-of-age tale, was the first book ever to win the "grand slam" of children's literature: the Newbery Medal, the National Book Award, and the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award. During her career, Hamilton won almost every award that exists for children's literature.

Virginia Hamilton died of breast cancer on February 19, 2002.

Virginia Hamilton said: "There are three things I can remember always wanting: to go to New York, to go to Spain, and to be a writer. It feels nice to have done all three. I haven't had to want anything for some time."


Henry Bemis Books is one man’s attempt to bring more diversity and quality to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg market of devoted readers starved for choices. Our website is at  Henry Bemis Books is also happy to entertain reasonable offers on items in inventory; for pricing on this or others items, kindly private message us. Shipping is always free; local buyers are welcome to drop by and pick up their purchases at our location off Peachtree Road in Northwest Charlotte if they like. #VirginiaHamilton #BlackHistoryMonth #LiteraryBirthdays #Book of the Day #RareBooks #HenryBemisBooks #Charlotte

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