Books

Beverly Cleary, beloved children's book author, dead at 104

The celebrated American children's author of than 40 books featuring memorable characters such as Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse and Ramona Quimby, died on March 25, 2021.
Beverly Cleary, the beloved American children's author, died at 104 on March 25, 2021. (Christina Koci Hernandez/Getty Images)

Beverly Cleary, the celebrated American children's author of more than 40 books featuring memorable characters such as Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse and Ramona Quimby, is dead at 104.

Cleary's publisher HarperCollins announced that the author died Thursday (March 25, 2021) in Carmel, Calif., where she had lived since the 1960s.

No cause of death was given.

"We are saddened by the passing of Beverly Cleary, one of the most beloved children's authors of all time. Looking back, she'd often say, 'I've had a lucky life,' and generations of children count themselves lucky too — lucky to have the very real characters Beverly Cleary created, including Henry Huggins, Ramona and Beezus Quimby and Ralph S. Mouse, as true friends who helped shape their growing-up years," said HarperCollins Children's Books president and publisher Suzanne Murphy in a press release.

"Her timeless books are an affirmation of her everlasting connection to the pleasures, challenges, and triumphs that are part of every childhood."

Born Beverly Atlee Bunn in McMinnville, Ore., on April 12, 1916, Cleary sold over 91 million books in over 20 countries and 14 languages.

Just as Ramona Quimby's family struggled financially in the books, Cleary's parents suffered through financial hardships. Her father had to sell his farm in the early 1920s, relocating his family to Portland where he would later lose his job during the Great Depression.

Author Beverly Cleary on writing for children

Digital Archives

2 years ago
1:20
Beverly Cleary, in Vancouver for a Library Association meeting, talks about writing for children 1:20

Trained as a librarian, Cleary penned books which sold millions of copies, saying she began writing because children told her there were no stories about kids like them.

Her first novel was 1950's Henry Huggins based on the children she grew up with in Portland.

She received the U.S. National Medal of Arts in 2003.

With files from Associated Press

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