Born on February 10, 1930, in New York, Konigsburg grew up in small Pennsylvania mill towns. The valedictorian of her high school graduating class, she made the decision to be different and set out on her own path in life. Planning her future but not understanding that scholarships were available, Konigsburg decided to work one year and save that money earned to attend Carnegie Mellon University the next year. While she did the bookkeeping for a meat plant, she met her future husband, David.
Admitted to Carnegie Mellon University, Konigsburg majored in chemistry. Working a variety of jobs from a playground instructor to a waitress, and with the help of scholarships, she stayed enrolled at the university, graduating with a chemistry degree. After getting married, Konigsburg attended the University of Pittsburgh for graduate study. Several times she had laboratory accidents, or experiments gone awry, but when she blew up the lab sink, Konigsburg realized that chemistry wasn't for her in the long run. When her husband took a position in Florida as a psychologist, she went along to teach science at a private all-girls school.
Fascinated by how the girls thought and the issues they faced growing up, Konigsburg reflected on how differently their young world was from her own youth. Sometimes emotional, sometimes turbulent, Konigsburg noticed that children dealt with many of the same inner uncertainties, regardless of economical status. She stepped down from teaching when her first child was born and went on to have two more children.
Again following her husband's work, the family moved to New York. Here Konigsburg found the time to take drawing and painting classes. Then with her youngest in kindergarten, she began writing. Using her children as both inspiration and a sounding board, Konigsburg found her purpose. The first two books she wrote ended up on the Newbery list during the same year with From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler earning the 1968 Newbery Medal and with Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth earning the runner-up award. No other author has accomplished this amazing feat in writing. In fact, Konigsburg won the Newbery Medal again in 1997 with The View from Saturday.
Clearly written, humorous, and unpredictable, her books touch children's emotions without preaching to them, nor does she treat her characters and themes in a heavy-handed way. Konigsburg has written over 15 books and self-illustrated many of them. Some books have been adapted for television, made into a motion picture, or turned into a play. Not just an author for children, Konigsburg penned two nonfiction books for adults, as well. Luckily for her readers, Konigsburg continues to capture their world in print.
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