Elaine Lobl Konigsburg is an American writer known by her children’s books and fiction stories. Konigsburg is the only author who won the Newbery Medal and the Newbery Honor in the same year.
2. early life and education
Elaine Lobl Konigsburg was born on February 10, 1930, in Brooklyn, New York, to Jewish immigrant parents from Poland and Russia. She was the oldest of three children. Her father, Joseph Lobl, was a plumber, and her mother, Sarah Goldstein Lobl, was a homemaker. Konigsburg was raised in the Bronx and attended public schools.
Konigsburg graduated from high school at the age of 16 and began attending Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania that same year. She transferred to Cornell University after two years and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1950. Konigsburg married David Konigsburg, a fellow Cornell student, in 1951. The couple had three children: Nina, Stephen, and Claudia.
3. writing career
After college, Konigsburg worked as a research chemist for the Carnegie Institute of Technology and as a technical writer for Westinghouse Electric Corporation. In 1963, she began writing children’s books while raising her family. Her first book, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1968), was published when she was 38 years old and won the Newbery Medal in 1969. The book tells the story of two siblings who run away from home to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Konigsburg’s second book, Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth (1970), was a Newbery Honor book. It follows the story of a girl who wishes she could trade places with her witch neighbor. Konigsburg’s third book, The Gentleman and His Lady (1971), is a historical novel about the love affair between Richard Lovelace and Lucasta Neville during the English Civil War.
Konigsburg continued to write both children’s books and adult fiction throughout her career. Some of her other notable titles include: From Up on Poppy Hill (1973), A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver (1974), The Second Mrs. Giaconda (1976), I Can Get There from Here (1979), Silent to the Bone (2000), Touched by Fire (2002), Altogether Elsewhere, Vastly More Than That (2010). Konigsburg also wrote several plays and screenplays throughout her career, including adaptions of her own books From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1973) and Jennifer Hecate Macbeth William McKinley and Me Elizabeth (1977).
4. later life and legacy
Konigsburg retired from writing in 2013 but continued to be involved in theater through her work as an actress and director with the Tallahassee Little Theatre in Florida where she resided with her husband David until his death in 2014. Konigsburg died on April 19, 2019 at the age of 88.
Konigsburg was praised for her ability to write both children’s books and adult fiction with equal skill.
Her work has been translated into more than 20 languages and her books have sold millions of copies worldwide. Konigsburg was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1999 and received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award in 2006 in recognition of her lasting contribution to children’s literature.