Things We Saw Today: Beloved Author Beverly Clearly Passes Away at 104
Ramona Quimby forever.
Beloved children’s book author Beverly Cleary, who created indelible literary characters like Ramona and Beezus Quimby, passed away on Thursday at 104 years old. The iconic author wrote dozens of books which sold over 90 million copies worldwide, beginning with her first novel, Henry Huggins, in 1950. It was in that novel that Cleary introduced the indomitable Ramona Quimby, patron saint of scrappy little girls and kids everywhere.
Suzanne Murphy, President and Publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books said, “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. We at HarperCollins also feel extremely lucky to have worked with Beverly Cleary and to have enjoyed her sparkling wit. Her timeless books are an affirmation of her everlasting connection to the pleasures, challenges, and triumphs that are part of every childhood.”
Cleary’s books were some of the first to accurately capture the realities of American childhood, warts and all. Her writing has impacted generations of children, validating their feelings, their relationships, and the pain of being a kid in a world run by adults. Her most famous creation, Ramona Quimby, is one of those iconic literary characters that feels as fresh and relevant today as she did 71 years ago.
“As a librarian, children were always asking for books about ‘kids like us.′ Well, there weren’t any books about kids like them. So when I sat down to write, I found myself writing about the sort of children I had grown up with,” Cleary said in a 1993 Associated Press interview.
In 1975, Cleary won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the American Library Association for “substantial and lasting contributions to children’s literature”. In 2000, Cleary was named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress. She was also awarded the 2003 National Medal of Art from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Many fans took to social media to remember the author:
RIP Beverly Cleary. Millions of girls saw themselves in Ramona Quimby. Thank you from all the “pests” out there.
— Jill Biden (@FLOTUS) March 26, 2021
Let’s remember that Beverly Cleary wrote a book in the 70s in which Ramona’s mom goes to work full-time, making her the sole breadwinner, & she doesn’t have time to sew Ramona’s Christmas pageant costume, so Ramona wears PJs.
A toast to Beverly Cleary from moms who work.
— Faith Salie (@Faith_Salie) March 26, 2021
Ramona Quimby made being loud and reckless and annoying and sensitive and conflicted feel like traits to aspire to, not run from. I wanted to be a pest like Ramona. And I'll love you forever, Beverly Cleary.
— Anne T. Donahue (@annetdonahue) March 26, 2021
Ramona Quimby was a nosy ass little cutie with a big heart which obviously made me feel seen as a kid. I think it’s v special how kids often feel invisible or like annoyances and that Beverly Cleary showed a generation of kids (perhaps 2!) they had more to contribute than that
— Amanda Hugankiss (@Muna_Mire) March 27, 2021
Holding Beverly Cleary’s family and loved ones in my heart. Ramona brought me so much joy as a child and inspired me to ask my Grandma Ginger to quit smoking for my 8th birthday (she did!). Have loved sharing her books with my children.
May her memory be a blessing. https://t.co/SMWPubdPzg
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) March 26, 2021
Her characters were bold and brave, unruly and unstoppable, and she changed our ideas of what girls could be. Thank you, Beverly Cleary. You will be missed. pic.twitter.com/dEpN3T0ygW
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) March 27, 2021
RIP Beverly Cleary, you will be missed.
Beverly Cleary wrote great American literature. Rest in power 👑
— Min Jin Lee (@minjinlee11) March 26, 2021
(via HarperCollins, image: By Unknown – Cleary Family archive/OPB, Public Domain)
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Passover my normal life
inviting a dude over for wine and
he may or may not show up
— danielle weisberg (@danielleweisber) March 27, 2021
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