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Beverly Cleary (born Beverly Atlee Bunn; April 12, 1916) is an Americanmarker author from Oregonmarker. Educated at colleges in Californiamarker and Washingtonmarker, she worked as a librarian before starting to write children's books. Cleary has written over 30 books for young adults and children. Some of her best-known characters are Henry Huggins, Ribsy, Beatrice Quimby, her sister Ramona, and Ralph S. Mouse. She won the Newbery Medal for her book Dear Mr. Henshaw in 1984. She has won many medals for best children's books.

Early years

Cleary was born in McMinnvillemarker, Yamhill County, Oregonmarker. She was raised on a farm in McMinnville, and grew up in Yamhill, with no local access to a library. Beverly’s mother felt that this was a disadvantage for the students at the small farm school, and she made arrangements to have books sent there from the State Library. As a result, Beverly grew to love books.

When Beverly was six years old, her family left the farm and moved to Portland, Oregonmarker, where she attended elementary and high school. Her struggle with reading in this new school setting was blamed partly on her dissatisfaction with the books she was required to read and partly on an unpleasant first grade teacher, Mrs. Falb. Also, after six years of living in the country, on a farm, the city life in Portland took a toll on Beverly's health, and in her first-grade year she was frequently ill, which set back her schoolwork and reading skills even further.

In the second grade, Beverly studied under her favorite and most-beloved teacher, Miss Marius, and by the third grade, she had greatly improved her reading ability and found a new enjoyment from books. She read The Dutch Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins, and became a frequent visitor to the library.

The grammar school librarian was largely responsible for developing Beverly's love of reading. She encouraged Beverly to check out books about subjects to which Beverly could relate. The librarian not only encouraged Beverly to read but also to write her own books, and instilled in Beverly the belief that she too could write for children some day.

Professional life

In 1934, age 19, she moved to Ontario, Californiamarker, to attend Chaffey College, from which she earned an Associate of Arts diploma. She worked as a substitute librarian at the Ontario City Library. After graduating with a BA in English in 1938 from the University of California at Berkeleymarker, she studied at the School of Librarianship at the University of Washingtonmarker in Seattlemarker, Washington, where she earned a degree in library science in 1939.

As college was expensive, and it was the Depression, Beverly had to work to earn money, through the cooperative education program at the University. One afternoon as Beverly took a break from her chores at work she found herself having a sandwich with a young gentleman named Clarence Cleary, her future husband.

The Library Science degree allowed her to work with young children and develop a relationship with children at all socioeconomic levels. Her first full-time job as a librarian was in Yakima, Washingtonmarker, where she met many children who were searching for the same books that she had always hoped to find as a child herself. Beverly sympathized with children who felt that there were no books written about children like themselves. This made Beverly more driven to help provide children with stories to which they could relate.

In response to this experience, she later wrote her first book, Henry Huggins, which was published in 1951. It was about a boy, his dog and their friends, all of whom lived on "Klickitat Street" in Portland (a real street that was only a few blocks from where Cleary grew up as a child). According to Beverly, the boy and his friends represented all the children she grew up with, and the ones who sat in front of her during library story hours.

As she crafted her first novel, she recalled advice from her mother and incorporated her beliefs that the best writing was simple and filled with humor. She also remembered advice from a college professor who emphasized writing about universal human experience. Beezus and Ramona, Cleary's first novel to feature the Quimby sisters as the central focus of the story, was published in 1955, although Beezus and Ramona made frequent appearances in the Henry Huggins series as supporting characters.

The opportunity to work with children as a librarian opened new doors for Beverly Cleary. She wanted to write books for children but was unsure if she had the experiences needed to write what she wanted. A publisher wanted her to write a book about a kindergarten student, but Cleary felt that she could not write about this as she had not attended kindergarten, but later changed her mind after the birth of her twins. She learned to add a little wit and charm to her writing for children, with the hope that this would spark an interest in students and encourage them to want to read more books of this type. She is now an international favorite among children’s authors.

Personal life

In 1940 she married Clarence T. Cleary and they moved to Oakland, Californiamarker. They eloped because Cleary's parents were Presbyterians and did not approve of the union even after it occurred because Clarence was Roman Catholic. Beverly and Clarence Cleary had twins, Marrienne Elizabeth and Malcolm James. Clarence Cleary died in 2004. Beverly Cleary currently lives in Carmel, Californiamarker.

She has also written two autobiographies, A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet.

Her books are available in 15 languages in over 20 countries.

Honors and legacies

Cleary has won many awards, including the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award in 1975 and the 1984 Newbery Medal for her book Dear Mr. Henshaw. Cleary received the Library of Congressmarker Living Legends award in the Writers and Artists category in April 2000 for her significant contributions to the cultural heritage of the United States. In 1980, Cleary was awarded the Regina Medal from the Catholic Library Association. Moreover, she received the National Medal of the Arts in 2003.

The Hollywood branch of the Multnomah County Librarymarker, near where she lived as a child, commissioned a map that is on its lobby wall of Henry Huggins's Klickitat Street neighborhood. Statues of her beloved characters Henry Huggins; the Huggins's dog, Ribsy; and Ramona Quimby can be found in Grant Park in Portland, Oregonmarker. In June 2008, the two-campus K–8 school of the same neighborhood, Hollyrood-Fernwood, itself the product of a merger of two schools the previous year, was officially renamed Beverly Cleary School. As a child, Cleary attended the former Fernwood Grammar School, one of the two buildings that make up the school that now bear her namesake.

In 2004, the University of Washington's Information School completed fundraising for the Beverly Cleary Endowed Chair for Children and Youth Services to honor her work and commitment to librarianship. In 2008, the school announced that she had been selected as the next recipient of the Universities Alumnus Summa Laude Dignata Award, the highest honor that the University of Washington can bestow on a graduate.

She also has a residential hall at the University of California, Berkeleymarker, named after her.

Cleary’s books have earned many awards, been published in 14 different languages, and many of her characters are characters that children can relate to in their own lives. A few examples of awards she has won include a 1984 Newbery Medal for Dear Mr. Henshaw; a 1978 Newbery Honor Book for Ramona and Her Father; a 1982 Newbery Honor Book for Ramona Quimby, Age 8; a 1975 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the Association for Library Services to Children of the American Library Association; the Catholic Library Association's 1980 Regina Medal; and the Children's Book Council's 1985 Every Child Award. Cleary’s books are about life on a daily basis, and they have been read on PBS and ABC-TV.


  • Henry Huggins (illus. by Louis Darling) - (1950)
  • Ellen Tebbits (illus. by Louis Darling) - (1951)
  • Henry and Beezus (illus. by Louis Darling) - (1952)
  • Otis Spofford (illus. by Louis Darling) - (1953)
  • Henry and Ribsy (illus. by Louis Darling) - (1954)
  • Beezus and Ramona (illus. by Louis Darling) - (1955)
  • Fifteen (illus. by Joe and Beth Krush) - (1956)
  • Henry and the Paper Route (illus. by Louis Darling) - (1957)
  • The Luckiest Girl - (1958)
  • Jean and Johnny (illus. by Joe and Beth Krush) - (1959)
  • The Hullabaloo ABC (illus. by Earl Thollander) - (1960)
  • The Real Hole (illus. by Mary Stevens) - (1960)
  • Leave it to Beaver - (1960) (Tie-In based on CBS/ABC TV Series)
  • Here's Beaver! - (1961) (Subsequent tie-in based on CBS/ABC TV Series)
  • Two Dog Biscuits (illus. by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan) - (1961)
  • Emily's Runaway Imagination (Illus. by Joe and Beth Krush.)- (1961)
  • Henry and the Clubhouse (illus. by Louis Darling) - (1962)
  • Sister of the Bride (illus. by Joe and Beth Krush) - (1963)
  • Ribsy (illus. by Louis Darling) - (1964)
  • The Mouse and the Motorcycle (illus. by Louis Darling) - (1965)
  • The Growing-Up Feet (illus. by Dyanne Disalvo-ryan) - (1967)

  • Mitch and Amy (illus. by Bob Marstall) - (1967)
  • Ramona the Pest (illus. by Louis Darling) - (1968)
  • Runaway Ralph (illus. by Louis Darling) - (1970)
  • Socks (illus. by Beatrice Darwin) - (1973)
  • Ramona the Brave (illus. by Alan Tiegreen) - (1975)
  • Ramona and Her Father (illus. by Alan Tiegreen) - (1977)
  • Ramona and Her Mother (illus. by Alan Tiegreen) - (1979)
  • Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (illus. by Alan Tiegreen) - (1981)
  • Ralph S. Mouse (illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky) - (1982)
  • Dear Mr. Henshaw (illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky) - (1983)
  • Ramona Forever (illus. by Alan Tiegreen) - (1984)
  • The Ramona Quimby Diary - (1984)
  • Lucky Chuck (illus. by J. Winslow Higginbottom) - (1984)
  • Janet's Thingamajigs (illus. by Dyanne Disalvo-ryan) - (1987)
  • A Girl from Yamhill - (1988)
  • Muggie Maggie (illus. by Kay Life) - (1990)
  • Strider (illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky) - (1991)
  • Petey's Bedtime Story (illus. by David Small) - (1993)
  • My Own Two Feet - (1995)
  • Ramona's World (illus. by Alan Tiegreen) - (1999)
  • Ramona and Her Father (illus. by Tracy Dockray) - (reillustrated version, 2006)


  1. The World of Beverly Cleary, Retrieved on April 3, 2009, from
  2. Shaw, Christen, Beverly Cleary. Retrieved on April 4, 2009, Spectrum Home & School Magazine. from,Beverly.html
  3. Harper Collins, Retrieved on April 3, 2009, from
  4. The Book Report Inc. Retrieved on April 3, 2009, from
  5. Headlines - Information School | University of Washington
  6. Scholastic, Retrieved on April 3, 2009, from

  • “Cleary, Beverly” Biography Resource Center Gale/Thompson, through Educational Paperback Association, Retrieved on April 4, 2009, from
  • Answers about Beverly Cleary, Retrieved on April 3, 2009, from

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