Carol Ryrie Brink

Carol Ryrie Brink

Carol Ryrie Brink (December 28, 1895 – August 15, 1981) was an American author of over thirty juvenile and adult books. Her novel Caddie Woodlawn won the 1936 Newbery Medal and a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958.

Born in Moscow, Idaho, Caroline Sybil Ryrie was the only child of Alexander and Henrietta (Watkins) Ryrie. Her father was an immigrant from Scotland and was the city's mayor (1895–97) and her mother was the daughter of a prominent physician, Dr. William W. Watkins, the first president of the state's medical association and a member of the board of regents of the new University of Idaho. 

Carol's childhood was fairly traumatic: her father died at age 35 from tuberculosis (in 1900) and her mother remarried, but when her grandfather was murdered a year later, her mother's second marriage failed and she committed suicide in 1904 at age 29. Thus orphaned at age 8, Carol was raised in Moscow by her widowed maternal grandmother, Caroline Woodhouse Watkins (1853–1940), the eventual model for Caddie Woodlawn. The Watkins family had moved to Idaho in 1887, three years before statehood, when Henrietta was twelve. Raised in Wisconsin, her grandmother's life and storytelling abilities inspired Carol's writing at an early age.

Brink started writing for her school newspapers and continued that in college; she graduated from the Portland Academy in Oregon and attended the University of Idaho in Moscow for three years (1914–17). She wrote for The Argonaut student newspaper and Gem of the Mountains yearbook and was a member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority. She transferred to the University of California in Berkeley for her senior year in 1917 and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1918. On June 12 of that year, she married Raymond W. Brink, a young mathematics professor she had met in Moscow nine years earlier. He had joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota a year prior and they made their home in St. Paul for forty-two years. The Brinks raised a son (David) and a daughter (Nora), spent summers in the Wisconsin backwoods, and traveled for several years in Scotland and France.

Her first novel, Anything Can Happen on the River, was published in 1934. Brink wrote fiction throughout her life, and added poetry and painting to her later accomplishments. After 55 years of marriage, her husband passed away in 1973 and she died eight years later of heart failure at age 85 in La Jolla, California.

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Caddie Woodlawn
by Carol Ryrie Brink
from Simon and Schuster
Realistic Family Fiction for 3rd-7th grade
1936 Newbery Medal winner
in Realistic Fiction (Location: FIC-REA)