Jerry Spinelli is an American writer of children's novels that feature adolescence and early adulthood. He is best known for Maniac Magee and Wringer.
Born on February 1, 1941 in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Jerry Spinelli currently resides in Phoenixville, PA. At the age of sixteen, his love of sports inspired him to compose a poem about a recent football victory, which his father published it in the local newspaper without his knowledge. It was at this time he realized that he would not become a major league football player, and decided to become a writer instead.
At Gettysburg College, Spinelli spent his time writing short stories and was the editor of the college literary magazine. After graduation, he became a writer and editor for a department store magazine. The next two decades, he spent his time working "normal jobs" during the day so that he had the energy to write fiction in his free time. He found himself writing during lunch breaks, on weekends, and after dinner.
His first few novels were written for adults and were all rejected. His fifth novel was also intended for adults but became his first children's book. This work, Space Station Seventh Grade, was published in 1982.
Spinelli graduated from Gettysburg College in 1963 and acquired his MA from Johns Hopkins University in 1964. In 1977, he married Eileen Mesi, another children's writer. Since about 1980, as Eileen Spinelli, she has collaborated with illustrators to create dozens of picture books. They have six children and 21 grandchildren.
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