Author Beverly Cleary, whose books have charmed generations of young readers and have been adapted for film and television, has died at the age of 104. She died Thursday at her longtime home in Carmel, Calif., According to a declaration from publisher HarperCollins.
“We are saddened by the passing of Beverly Cleary, one of the most beloved children’s authors of all time. Looking back, she would often say, “ I’ve had a lucky life, ” and generations of children consider themselves lucky too – lucky to have the real characters that Beverly Cleary created, including Henry Huggins, Ramona and Beezus Quimby, and Ralph S. Mouse, as true friends who helped shape their growing years, ”said Suzanne Murphy, President and Publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books.
Cleary was born April 12, 1916 in McMinnville, Oregon as Beverly Atlee Bunn. She then attended Chaffey Junior College in Ontario, California, earning her tuition with a job as a maid and dressmaker, before moving on to the University of California at Berkeley. There she met her husband, Clarence Cleary.
The two married in 1940 and had twins Malcolm and Marianne, inspirations from his book, Mitch and Amy. Beverly and Clarence were together until her death in 2004.
Cleary worked as a librarian after college and became a writer when she realized that the books she wanted to read couldn’t be found in the library’s offerings.
Cleary published his first book, Henry huggins, in 1950. She said she intended to create books that children could relate to. Ramona Quimby, the fiery child for whom she created Beezus and Ramona in 1955, was his breakout shot. Actresses Selena Gomez and Joey King played characters in the 2010 film Beezus and Ramona.
His Ralph S. Mouse novels were also made into an ABC Weekend Specials series from 1986 to 1991.
Cleary is the author of 32 books, the latest of which, Ramona’s world, released in 1999. But his legacy includes a holiday called National DEAR Day (drop everything and read) celebrated every April 12 in honor of his accomplishments as a children’s author.
She has also won a National Book Award, a Newbery Medal, a National Medal of Art from the National Endowment of the Arts, and the Library of Congress Living Legend Award.
Survivors include children Malcolm and Marianne, three grandchildren and a great grandchild. No commemorative plan has been announced.