A Pennsylvania native, Gray, at seventeen, submitted her first story to a magazine. Then upon graduating from Bryn Mawr College, she took a teaching position, tutored, wrote more magazine articles, and earned a library science degree. Her subsequent marriage to Morgan Vining, a University of North Carolina professor, ended abruptly when he died in a car accident.
The North Carolina mountain region and its history had provoked many thoughts for books, and those ideas turned into novels. After returning home to reside in Philadelphia with her family, Gray Vining continued thinking about writing. A trip to Scotland provided the information she needed for a biography of Walter Scott. From her various travels, more biographies and novels followed. Gray Vining's attention to detail and her in-depth research which brought her characters and their stories to life garnered her much respect. She earned the Newbery Medal for Adam of the Road in 1943.
Gray Vining chose to become a Quaker and spent much time in service to her religion. Later, through her Quaker connections, Gray Vining was invited to tutor the Crown Prince of Japan from 1946-1950. She wrote a book for adults recounting her experiences Windows for the Crown Prince.
Gray Vining's writing career stretched over 60 years and thirty books, including biographies, novels, story collections, and children's fiction. She even ventured into illustrating. In 1994 she illustrated Skeletons: An Inside Look at Animals for the Reader's Digest Kids. The following year she co-illustrated and wrote her last book called Dinosaur and Other Prehistoric Animals. Gray Vining passed away in 1999 in Pennsylvania.
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