Jane Yolen

Jane Hyatt Yolen (born February 11, 1939) is an American writer of fantasy, science fiction, and children's books. She is the author or editor of more than 365 books, of which the best known is The Devil's Arithmetic, a Holocaust novella.[1] Her other works include the Nebula Award-winning short story Sister Emily's Lightship, the novelette Lost Girls, Owl Moon, The Emperor and the Kite, the Commander Toad series and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight.[2] She gave the lecture for the 1989 Alice G. Smith Lecture, the inaugural year for the series. This lecture series is held at the University of South Florida School of Information "to honor the memory of its first director, Alice Gullen Smith, known for her work with youth and bibliotherapy." In 2012 she became the first woman to give the Andrew Lang lecture.[3]

Jane Yolen
Yolen at the 2011 New York Comic Con
Yolen at the 2011 New York Comic Con
BornJane Hyatt Yolen
February 11, 1939 (age 80)
New York City, US
OccupationWriter, poet
Alma materSmith College
GenreFantasy, science fiction, folklore, children's fiction
Notable awardsWorld Fantasy Award for Life Achievement

Early life

Jane Hyatt Yolen was born on February 11, 1939 at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan. She is the first child of Isabell Berlin Yolen, a psychiatric social worker who became a full-time mother and homemaker upon Yolen's birth, and Will Hyatt Yolen, a journalist who wrote columns at the time for New York newspapers. Isabell also did volunteer work, and wrote short stories in her spare time. However, she was not able to sell them. Because the Hyatts, the family of Yolen's grandmother, Mina Hyatt Yolen, only had girls, a number of the children of Yolen's generation were given their last name as a middle name in order to perpetuate it.[4]

When Yolen was barely one year old, the family moved to California to accommodate Will's new job working for Hollywood film studios, doing publicity on films such as American Tragedy and Knut Rockne. The family moved back to New York City prior to the birth of Yolen's brother, Steve. When Will joined the Army as a Second Lieutenant to fight in England during World War II, Yolen, her mother and brother lived with her grandparents, Danny and Dan, in Newport News, Virginia. After the war, the family moved back to Manhattan, living on Central Park West and 97th Street until Yolen turned 13. She attended PS 93, where she enjoyed writing and singing, and became friends with future radio presenter Susan Stamberg. She also engaged writing by creating a newspaper for her apartment with her brother that she sold for five cents a copy. She was accepted to Music and Art High School. During the summer prior to that semester, she attended a Vermont summer camp, which was her first involvement with the Society of Friends (Quakers). Her family also moved to a large ranch house in Westport, Connecticut, where she attended Bedford Junior high for ninth grade, and then Staples High School, where she sang in the choir, was captain of the girls' basketball team, was News Editor of the school paper, and vice president of the Spanish and Latin Clubs. After graduating she attended Smith College. Though she says she did not have the highest grades, she wrote a book of poetry, was President of the Press Board, and participated in school musicals and other shows as an actress and by writing song lyrics. After graduating she moved back to New York City.[4]


Although Yolen considered herself a poet, journalist and nonfiction writer, she became a children's book writer. Her first published book was Pirates in Petticoats, which was published on her 22nd birthday.[4]

Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy for Teens, Favorite Folktales From Around the World, Xanadu and Xanadu 2 are among the works that she has edited.

Her book Naming Liberty, tells the story of a Russian girl and Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the designer of the Statue of Liberty.[1]

She has co-written three books with her son, the writer and musician Adam Stemple, Pay the Piper and Troll Bridge, both part of the Rock 'n' Roll Fairy Tale series, and the children's book Crow Not Crow, an introduction into bird watching.[5] She also wrote lyrics for the song "Robin's Complaint," recorded on the 1994 album Antler Dance by Stemple's band Boiled in Lead.[6]

Regarding the similarities between her novel Wizard's Hall, and the Harry Potter series, Yolen has commented on J.K. Rowling, the author of that series:

I'm pretty sure she never read my book. We were both using fantasy tropes—the wizard school, the pictures on the wall that move. I happen to have a hero whose name was Henry, not Harry. He also had a red-headed best friend and a girl who was also his best friend—though my girl was black, not white. And there was a wicked wizard who was trying to destroy the school, who was once a teacher at the school. But those are all fantasy tropes ...There's even a book that came out way before hers where children go off to a witch school or a wizard school by going on a mysterious train that no one else can see except the kids, at a major British train station—I don’t know if it was Victoria Station or King's Cross. These things are out there ...This is not new."[3]

Along with her book on craft, Take Joy: A Book for Writers, Yolen is often attributed with the advice for being a writer: BIC—butt in chair.

Personal life

In 1962, Yolen married David W. Stemple. They had three children and six grandchildren. Stemple died in March 2006. Yolen lives in Western Massachusetts next door to her daughter, Heidi. She also owns a house in Scotland, where she lives for about four months each year.[4]



  • 1984 World Fantasy Award for Anthology/Collection (for Tales of Wonder)[2]
  • 1986 World Fantasy Award for Anthology/Collection (for Dragonfield and Other Stories)[2]
  • 1987 World Fantasy Award for Anthology/Collection (for Merlin's Booke)[2]
  • 1989 World Fantasy Award for Best Novella (for Briar Rose)[2]
  • 1993 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel (for The Devil's Arithmetic)[2]


  1. ^ a b "A Life in Books: Jane Yolen". The Daily Beast. May 24, 2008. Archived from the original on January 14, 2012. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Award Winners & Nominees [1975 to present]". World Fantasy Convention. Archived from the original on December 1, 2010. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Adams, John Joseph; Barr Kirtley, David (January 23, 2013). "Author Jane Yolen Talks Book Banning and Harry Potter". Wired.
  4. ^ a b c d Yolen, Jane. "A Short Biography". janeyolen.com. Retrieved March 13, 2013.
  5. ^ CROW NOT CROW by Jane Yolen, Adam Stemple, Elizabeth O. Dulemba. Kirkus Reviews.
  6. ^ Lipsig, Chuck (January 17, 2011). "Boiled in Lead: The Not Quite Complete Recordings". Green Man Review. Archived from the original on January 21, 2011. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  7. ^ "Regina Medal" Archived April 27, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Catholic Library Association. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
  8. ^ Carpan, Carolyn (2005). Jane Yolen. Infobase Publishing (Who Wrote That? series). ISBN 9780791086605 p. 112. Archived at Google Books. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
  9. ^ a b "Jane Yolen". Science Fiction Awards Database (sfadb.com). Mark R. Kelly and the Locus Science Fiction Foundation. 2012–2013. September 25, 2013.
  10. ^ "SFWA Announces Newest Damon Knight Grand Master – Jane Yolen". SFWA. November 29, 2016. Retrieved November 29, 2016.

External links

Adam Stemple

Adam Stemple is a Celtic-influenced American folk rock musician, based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is also the author of several fantasy short stories and novels, including two series of novels co-written with his mother, writer Jane Yolen.

Armageddon Summer

Armageddon Summer is a 1998 young adult novel by Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville.

Briar Rose (novel)

Briar Rose is a young adult novel written by American author Jane Yolen, published in 1992. Incorporating elements of Sleeping Beauty, it was published as part of the Fairy Tale Series of novels compiled by Terri Windling. The novel won the annual Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature in 1993. It was also nominated for the Nebula Award.

Commander Toad

Commander Toad is a series of children's books by Jane Yolen, published by Puffin Books from 1980 to 1998. The series is a toad-themed parody of pop culture science fiction filled with puns. Star Wars is referenced with many puns on iconic Star Wars characters including Jake Skyjumper (Luke Skywalker), Deep Wader (Darth Vader) and Star Warts, the name of Commander Toad's ship. The books feature Commander Toad and his crew exploring the Galaxy for Starfleet, and each story is a different mission, a clear reference to Star Trek.

Dragons of Light

Dragons of Light (1980) is an anthology edited by Orson Scott Card. It contains 13 stories by different writers: George R. R. Martin, Roger Zelazny, Michael Bishop, Craig Shaw Gardner, Steven Edward McDonald, Steve Rasnic Tem, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Arthur Dembling, Greg Bear, John M. Ford, Jane Yolen, Richard Kearns, and Dave Smeds. Greg Bear illustrates his own story, but 12 other illustrators provide art for the 12 other stories.

Edward E. Smith Memorial Award

The Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction, or "Skylark", annually recognizes someone for lifetime contributions to science fiction, "both through work in the field and by exemplifying the personal qualities which made the late "Doc" Smith well-loved by those who knew him." It is presented by the New England Science Fiction Association at its annual convention, Boskone, to someone chosen by a vote of NESFA members. The trophy is a large lens mounted on a simple plinth.The award was inaugurated in 1966, the year after Smith's death. Fifty-one people have been honored in 49 years to 2015 (Hal Clement received the award twice, in 1969 and 1997).

Skylark recipients

Fairy tale parody

Fairy tale parody is a genre of fiction which parodies traditional fairy tales.

The genre was popularized on television by the Fractured Fairy Tales segments on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.The 2001 computer-animated film Shrek brought great popularity to the genre. Parodies soon eclipsed traditional fairy tales. The genre garnered some praise for its more modern views but was also criticized for supplanting the traditional stories.Children's books that have been classified as fairy tale parodies:

The Giant's Big Toe by Brock Cole

Sleeping Ugly by Jane Yolen

Jack and the Meanstalk by Brian Wildsmith and Rebecca Wildsmith

The Book That Jack Wrote, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, and The Frog Prince, Continued by Jon Scieszka

Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl

Ruby, by Michael Emberley

Jim Henson Presents Goldilocks, Miss Piggy's Dream by Louise Gikow

The Three Bears by Cindy West


Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson

Cinder-Elly by Frances Minters

Cinderella and the Glass Flipper by Janet Perlman

Cinderella with Benjy and Bubbles by Ruth Perle

The Adventures of Simple Simon by Chris Conover

The Velveteen Killer Rabbit by Elia Anie

Kawoni's Journey Across the Mountain: A Cherokee Little Red Riding Hood by Cordellya SmithPolitically Correct Fairy Tales and Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern tales for our life and times by James Finn Garner have been called "Adult fractured fairy tales ... still humorous but the humor is for adults".


Liavek is a series of five fantasy anthologies edited by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly set in a shared world.

Orson Scott Card found the initial volume to be "an example of what can be accomplished [in a shared-world project] when almost everything goes right."The collections were published by Ace Books with contributors including Bull, Shetterly, Gene Wolfe, Jane Yolen, John M. Ford, Kara Dalkey, Barry B. Longyear, Megan Lindholm, Nancy Kress, Patricia C. Wrede, Steven Brust, Nate Bucklin, Pamela Dean, Gregory Frost, Charles de Lint, Charles R. Saunders, Walter Jon Williams, Alan Moore and Bradley Denton. Related works, including a comic book, have been brought out by other publishers.

List of speculative poets

This is a list of speculative poets. People on this list should have articles of their own, and should meet the Wikipedia notability guidelines for their poetry. Please place names on the list only if there is a real and existing article on the poet.

Merlin and the Dragons

Merlin and the Dragons is a 1991 animated film adapted from a story by Jane Yolen and illustrations by Alan Lee. It was directed by Dennis Woodyard (as Dennis J. Woodyard) and Hu Yihong and includes a musical score by composer Michel Rubini. The production is a retelling of the Arthurian legend, with Merlin the magician, based on material from Nennius and Geoffrey of Monmouth. Yolen is a prolific author of Arthurian-themed texts, and this production continues her series of retellings of the Merlin story. The film is narrated and voiced by Kevin Kline and was originally broadcast as an episode of the PBS program Long Ago and Far Away (TV series). It has also been released to VHS (no longer available), DVD, and CD by Lightyear Entertainment as part of the "Stories to Remember" series; the CD includes the narration only and adds illustrations by Iain McCraig.The story was later adapted by Yolen and illustrated by Li Ming, under the title "Merlin and the Dragons" (Cobblehill Books, 1995).

Mythopoeic Awards

The Mythopoeic Awards for literature and literary studies are given by the Mythopoeic Society to authors of outstanding works in the fields of myth, fantasy, and the scholarly study of these areas.From 1971 to 1991 there were two awards, annual but not always awarded before 1981, recognizing Mythopoeic Fantasy and Mythopoeic Scholarship (Inklings Studies). Dual awards in each category were established in 1992: Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards for Adult Literature and Children's Literature; Scholarship Awards in Inklings Studies and Myth and Fantasy Studies. In 2010 a Student Paper Award was introduced for the best paper presented at Mythcon by an undergraduate or graduate student; it was renamed the Alexei Kondratiev Award several months after its creation.The 2018 finalists were announced on May 21, and the winners were announced on July 22 at the annual conference.

Nebula Awards Showcase 2018

Nebula Awards Showcase 2018 is an anthology of science fiction and fantasy short works edited by American writer Jane Yolen. It was first published in trade paperback and ebook by Pyr in August 2018.

Owl Moon

Owl Moon is a 1987 children's picture book by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr. It won many awards, most notably being the Caldecott Medal for its illustrations, and has appeared on Reading Rainbow in the US. It has been translated into more than a dozen foreign languages, including French, German, Chinese, and Korean.

Yolen described the book as, "a positive family story. It's about a girl and her father. Usually stories of a little girl are with her mother. It is gentle yet adventurous, quiet yet full of sound".

Raising Yoder's Barn

Raising Yoder's Barn is a 1998 illustrated children's book written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bernie Fuchs. The story is centered on a traditional, Amish barn raising and the Amish sense of community.

The Devil's Arithmetic

The Devil's Arithmetic is a historical fiction novel written by American author Jane Yolen and published in 1988. The book is about Hannah Stern, a Jewish girl who lives in New Rochelle, New York and is sent back in time to experience the Holocaust. During a Passover Seder, Hannah is transported back in time to 1942 Poland, during World War II, where she is sent to a work camp and learns the importance of knowing about the past.

The Devil's Arithmetic was nominated for the Nebula award for best novella in 1988 and won the National Jewish Book Award (in the category for children's literature) in 1989. The script for a 1999 Showtime television film with the same title, starring Kirsten Dunst and Brittany Murphy, was also nominated for a Nebula Award.

The Devil's Arithmetic (film)

The Devil's Arithmetic is a 1999 TV movie based on the historical novel of the same name by Jane Yolen. It stars Kirsten Dunst as Hannah Stern and costars Brittany Murphy, Louise Fletcher, and Mimi Rogers. Dustin Hoffman introduces the film but is uncredited and serves as an executive producer with Mimi Rogers.

The Emperor and the Kite

The Emperor and the Kite, written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Ed Young, is a 1967 picture book. The Emperor and the Kite was a Caldecott Medal Honor Book for 1968 and was Young's first Caldecott Honor Medal of a total of three during his career. Young won the Caldecott Medal in 1968 for The Emperor and the Kite, which he illustrated.

The Pit Dragon Trilogy

The Pit Dragon Chronicles is a series of science fiction and fantasy novels by Jane Yolen. The anthology is simply all of the first three books in one. The books are set in the far future, on a desert planet called Austar IV, which has a history and climate similar to that of Australia. The planet was originally a place where convicts would be exiled. For many generations the outcasts had adapted to their new environment and even formed a functioning society, focusing on a caste system of paid bonders and their owners. The amazing feature of the planet is that it does hold life, but very little, and has one species of dragons. The humans eventually managed to tame some of the dragons, and train them. They are bred for food and fighting. The economy on Austar is centered on "the pit" where owners bring their dragons in to fight.

In books two and three evidence is given that the dragons are far more intelligent than most humans perceive.

According to Yolen, the installments of the Pit Dragon trilogy are among those of her books which are often translated into other languages, and they have also been considered to be among her best known books. A fourth book in the series was published in 2009.

Wizard's Hall

Wizard's Hall is a 1991 fantasy novel by Jane Yolen. The Harry Potter series, which began publishing eight years later, has many similarities. However, Yolen believes the similarities are coincidental.

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