Born on January 3, 1932, in Anderson, Indiana, Naylor grew up enjoying the stories and books her parents shared with their children. As a traveling salesman, her father didn't stay long in one place, so Naylor never called one place "home." The closest she came to a "home" was with her grandparents in Marbury, Maryland. The relationships she'd formed, the landscapes, and the memories all influenced her in her later writings.
Naylor had many ideas for stories, and she wrote them down on the backs of used pieces of paper. Growing up during the Depression era impressed upon Naylor that nothing was wasted. Her first published story came at age 16 in a church magazine. Thrilled with success, Naylor ventured out, sending stories to a variety of prestigious children's magazines, only to receive rejection letters for two years in a row. Disappointed, but wiser to the world of writing, she attended Joliet Junior College. Writing was more of a hobby, and Naylor wanted a career.
After marrying a man from her hometown, Naylor moved with him to Chicago so he could finish his education. She worked as a clinical secretary and a short-term elementary teacher. Over time her husband began showing signs of severe mental illness, and Naylor wrote articles and stories on whatever she could brainstorm to pay the bills. Finally she came to terms with the fact that her husband's disease was incurable, and she had to place him in a sanitarium. After securing a divorce, Naylor remarried to a speech pathologist, and she returned to college, receiving a degree in clinical psychology from American University. Deciding against graduate school, Naylor opted to become a full-time writer.
From picture books to historical fiction, mysteries, or novels for children, Naylor is a prolific writer. Her books can take a serious tone as she addresses issues children face, particularly children with challenges already in life such as a sick father or a deceased mother. Naylor shows emotional growth and maturity in handling complex personal problems. In 1992 she won the Newbery Medal for Shiloh and then wrote two more books for the trilogy Shiloh Season, and Saving Shiloh, all of which have been made into movies. Yet, Naylor too can be humorous, and she's penned books of fiction and nonfiction for adults. In all, Naylor has published over 100 books and over 2000 articles and stories. From her home in Maryland, she keeps finding ideas to write about from her life, her family, and the world around her.
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