Elizabeth George Speare published surprisingly few books during her career, but nonetheless she left an indelible mark. Her historical fiction novels have won numerous awards and are often required reading in schools. She excelled at bringing history to life with believable, sympathetic characters. This talent manifested itself early, as she filled notebook after notebook with stories and poems during her childhood.
Speare grew up in Massachusetts, an area that would feature prominantly in her work. Blessed with an idyllic childhood, Speares went on to graduate from Boston University in 1932. She became a high school teacher, but left teaching when she married in 1936. She and her husband, Alden Speare, raised their two children in Connecticut. Busy with her family, Speare did not write again until her children were in junior high school.
After having varous articles published, she wrote her first novel for young adults, Calico Captive. It told the story of a girl captured by Indians during the Colonial era. Her next two novels, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and The Bronze Bow, both won Newbery medals. The Witch of Blackbird Pond paints a vivid and engaging picture of the Puritan society of Colonial Connecticut, and The Bronze Bow does the same for Palestine at the time of Christ. Her last book for young adults, The Sign of the Beaver, explores the relationships between Native Americans and European settlers through the eyes of a teenage boy.
In 1989, she was given the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, for "a distinguished and enduring contribution to children's literature." She passed away in 1994 at the age of 86.