On October 31, 1932, Katherine Paterson was born to missionary parents in China where she spent part of her childhood. She graduated with a degree in English from Kings College in Bristol, Tennessee. She then spent a year at a rural school in Virginia before going to graduate school. After teaching she spent two more years in graduate school in Richmond, Virginia, studying Bible and Christian education.
Her childhood dream had been to be a missionary to China and eat Chinese food three times a day. But China was closed to Americans in 1957, and a Japanese friend urged her to go to Japan instead. She came to love Japan and feel very much at home there. She lived and worked in that country for four years. When she returned to the States for a year of study in New York, she met John, a young Presbyterian pastor who changed the direction of her life once again. They were married in 1962.
It was not long after her marriage that Katherine began writing. In the cracks of time between feedings, diapering, cooking, reading aloud, walking to the park, and carpooling her four children to school, she wrote and wrote, and eventually began to publish. Her four children are now grown and she lives with her husband in Vermont.
Mrs. Paterson has received numerous awards for her writing, including National Book Awards for The Master Puppeteer and The Great Gilly Hopkins as well as Newbery Medals for Jacob Have I Loved and Bridge to Terabithia.