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Lloyd Alexander

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About the Author

“Whether writing realism or fantasy, my concern is the same: how we learn to be genuine human beings.”—Lloyd Alexander

Lloyd Alexander has received a Newbery Medal, a Newbery Honor Award, a National Book Award, and several IRA-CBC Children’s Choice Awards. He is also the author of many ALA Notable Children’s Books and School Library Journal Best Books of the Year.


Born on January 30, 1924, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, storyteller Lloyd Alexander spent his childhood filling his imagination with fantasies about other lands and eras. Ever since young Alexander first discovered a copy of the King Arthur legends in the back of a stationery store, he diligently searched out every hero tale and legend he could get his hands on. He says, “I read as long as I could remember. Shakespeare, Dickens, Mark Twain, and so many others were my dearest friends and greatest teachers. I loved all the world’s mythologies; King Arthur was one of my heroes; I played with a trash can lid for a knightly shield, and my uncle’s cane for the sword Excalibur.”

At fifteen, in his last year of high school, Alexander announced to his parents that he intended to become a poet. They agreed he could pursue this career on the condition that he also find some type of practical work. So, upon graduation, Alexander grudgingly accepted a job as a messenger in a bank. He says, “I felt like Robin Hood chained in the Sheriff of Nottingham’s dungeon. As a would-be writer, I thought it was a catastrophe. As a bank employee, I could barely add or subtract, and had to count on my fingers.”

Realizing there was still a lot to learn before he could consider himself a writer, Lloyd Alexander enrolled at a local college. However, he soon decided that adventure and experience were what he really needed, and quit school to join the army. In the midst of World War II, Alexander was stationed in Texas, and became an artilleryman, a cymbal player in the band, an organist in the post chapel, and finally, a first-aid man. Later, he was assigned to a military intelligence training center in Maryland. Eventually, he and his group sailed to England and were sent to Wales to finish their training.

When the war ended, Alexander was assigned to a counterintelligence unit in Paris. Later, he was discharged to attend the University of Paris, and met Janine, the woman who became his wife. The young couple returned to the United States, where Alexander struggled to get his novels published. To earn a living, he worked as a cartoonist, advertising writer, layout artist, and associate editor for a small magazine. After seven years of rejections, his first novel was published.

For ten years, Alexander wrote for adults, then changed gears and wrote fiction for young people. This, Alexander says, was “the most creative and liberating experience of my life. In books for young people, I was able to express my own deepest feelings far more than I could ever do in writing for adults.” Most of Alexander’s books have been of the fantasy genre. But fantasy, Alexander believes, is merely one of many ways to express attitudes and feelings about real people, real human relationships and problems. That is why his books evoke such deep responses from young and old readers alike.

In addition to writing, Lloyd Alexander enjoys music, especially Mozart. He also likes to create drawings, cartoons, and etchings. He lives with his wife and their cats in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, and is currently author-in-residence at Temple University in Philadelphia. “I never did find out all I wanted to know about writing,” Lloyd Alexander says, “and I realize I never will. All that writers can do is to keep trying to say what is deepest in their hearts. If writers learn more from their books than do readers, perhaps I may have begun to learn.”



—A Newbery Honor Book
—An ALA Notable Children’s Book

“The reader’s involvement is intense as the excitement leads up to the climactic meeting of tragedy and triumph.”—The Horn Book Magazine


—A Newbery Medal Winner
—A Child Study Children’s Book Committee Children’s Book of the Year

“Has the philosophical depth and overtones of great fantasy. ”—The Horn Book Magazine


“Infused with humor, high spirits and compassion, Lionel’s story is a parable of the human condition that recognizes mankind’s many frailties without despairing and offers hope that love and justice may sometimes prevail.”—Starred, School Library Journal


—A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

“Alexander is to be commended for his elegant writing, astute characterizations, and his presentation of an intelligent heroine.”—Starred, Booklist


“Plenty of action and a number of cliffhangers that create an episodic quality reminiscent of old Saturday matinee serials.”—Starred, School Library Journal


“Enthralling . . . it is not often that a book can tell a breathtaking story, offer useful lessons on life, and paint a lively cultural backdrop. Alexander has done all that and more.”—Starred, Booklist

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