Virginia Hamilton was a writer of children’s literature who wove black folktales and narratives of African-American life and experience into her work.
Hamilton did not create a saccharine, fluffy, or pristine literary world for children. She respected their intelligence and their abilities to grapple with ideas. The author of thirty-four books in twenty-nine years, her varied work includes two mysteries, three biographies, four folktale collections, a space-time trilogy, and a history of slavery in the United States. Her fiction includes M. C. Higgins, the Great (1974), which received the National Book Award and Newbery Medal in 1975, The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales (1985), which received the 1986 Coretta Scott King Award, In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World (1988), which received the 1989 John Newbery Honor Book Award, and Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales and True Tales (1995), which received the 1996 Coretta Scott King Award.
Hamilton was the recipient of the American Library Association’s Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal (1995) for the body of her work. She was the first children’s writer to be named a MacArthur Fellow.
Hamilton studied at Antioch College (1952-55), The Ohio State University (1957-58), and the New School University’s School of Social Research (1958-1960).