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Nancy Whitelaw (1933–) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Writings, Sidelights

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Born 1933, in New Bedford, MA; Education: Tufts University, B.A., 1954; University of Buffalo, M.Ed., 1968. Hobbies and other interests: Grass-roots politics, volunteering in local mayor's office.

Addresses

Agent—c/o Author Mail,

Career

Malden Schools, Malden, MA, elementary-grade teacher, 1954–55; Amerikan Kiz Koleji, Izmir, Turkey, teacher, 1955–58; Amherst public school system, Amherst, NY, teacher, 1968–88; Institute of Children's Literature, instructor, beginning 1988.

Member

Authors Guild, Authors League of America, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Writings

NONFICTION

A Beautiful Pearl, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 1990.

Charles de Gaulle, Dillon/Macmillan (New York, NY), 1991.

Theodore Roosevelt Takes Charge, Albert Whitman (Morton Grove, IL), 992.

Joseph Stalin, Dillon/Macmillan (New York, NY), 1992.

Margaret Sanger: "Every Child a Wanted Child", Maxwell Macmillan International (New York, NY), 1994.

They Wrote Their Own Headlines: American Women Journalists, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 1995.

Grace Hopper: Programming Pioneer, illustrated by Janet Hamlin, Scientific American Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1995.

Mr. Civil Rights: The Story of Thurgood Marshall, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 1995, 2nd edition, 2003.

William Tecumseh Sherman: Defender and Destroyer, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 1996.

Nathaniel Hawthorne: American Storyteller, Morgan Reynolds, (Greensboro, NC), 1996, 2nd edition, 2003.

Clara Barton: Civil War Nurse, Enslow Publishers (Springfield, NJ), 1997.

More Perfect Union: The Story of Alexander Hamilton, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 1997, 2nd edition, 2003.

Lady Diana Spencer: Princess of Wales, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 1998.

Bram Stoker, Author of Dracula, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 1998, revised edition, 2004.

Let's Go! Let's Publish!: Katharine Graham and the Washington Post, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 1999.

Joseph Pulitzer and the New York World, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2000.

William Randolph Hearst and the American Century, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2000, revised edition, 2004.

The Shot Heard 'round the World: The Battles of Lexington and Concord, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2001.

Andrew Jackson: Frontier President, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2001.

Thomas Jefferson: Philosopher and President, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2002.

Jimmy Carter: President and Peacemaker, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2004.

Queen Isabella and the Unification of Spain, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2005.

Queen Victoria and the British Empire, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2005.

Catherine the Great and the Enlightenment in Russia, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2005.

Catherine de' Medici and the Protestant Reformation, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2005.

Victory in Destruction: The Story of William Tecumseh Sherman, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2005.

Dark Dreams: The Story of Stephen King, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2006.

The Homestead Steel Strike of 1892, Morgan Reynolds (Greensboro, NC), 2006.

Also of other works of nonfiction; contributor to newspapers and periodicals, including Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and Sail.

Sidelights

The author of numerous biographies geared for a young-adult readership, Nancy Whitelaw embarked on her second career penning juvenile nonfiction following her retirement from teaching. Her books focus on a wide range of personalities—men and women who have gained renown in the arts and technology as well as those from the political and legal realms—and include the titles Andrew Jackson: Frontier President, Mr. Civil Rights: The Story of Thurgood Marshall, and Let's Go! Let's Publish! Katharine Graham and the Washington Post. Frequently praised for her clear prose and use of original source material in bringing her subject to life, Whitelaw was cited by Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan for the "crisp writing style" used in More Perfect Union: The Story of Alexander Hamilton, while fellow Booklist critic Krista Hutley wrote in a review of Dark Dreams: The Story of Stephen King that Whitelaw "has a knack for sharing unusual details … and for showing how important historical events" affect her subject.

Whitelaw was inspired to begin writing when she visited a school to observe its reading program. A trained educator, she was astonished to find that the children were not reading books; instead, they read brief stories and articles printed on small cardboard cards, and when they finished they turned the cards over to answer questions printed on the back. After checking their answers, they took another card and continued. "They reminded me of supermarket cashiers who read prices, record numbers, make change, and then greet the next customer," Whitelaw once told SATA. "My disgust exploded in short angry bursts which became lines of a poem."

That first poem eventually found its way into publication in the pages of an educational journal, and when Whitelaw saw her byline in print, she was hooked. Soon she was submitting articles based on ideas she had gathered during her many years of teaching to educational magazines. After receiving thirty rejections in response, she decided to sign up for a series of writing courses, and "soaked up all the information I could get from other writers," as she recalled. Soon her articles began to sell, not only to the educational magazines, but also to more general magazine markets, such as Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and Sail. Her experience writing on a variety of subjects for several different audiences has proved useful to Whitelaw since her focus has shifted to young-adult nonfiction.

In Bram Stoker: Author of Dracula Whitelaw profiles the life of the nineteenth-century writer who introduced the forbidding Count Dracula to the world in his 1897 novel.

Whitelaw's books are often part of more extensive series, such as the "European Queens" and "Notable Americans" series published by Morgan Reynolds. In Queen Isabella and the Unification of Spain, Catherine the Great and the Enlightenment in Russia, and Catherine de' Medici and the Protestant Reformation, Whitelaw tackles a significant moment in European history while also profiling a fascinating and influential woman. In her profile of Catherine the Great (1729–96), she follows the Russian empress from her childhood in Germany to her marriage to Grand Duke Peter, her rise to power following her husband's overthrow, and her ability to advance the scientific principles of French Enlightenment such as Rousseau while placating the powerful Russian Orthodox Church. Another Catherine receives a similar treatment in Catherine de' Medici and the Protestant Reformation. Queen to King Henri II of France, mother-in-law to Mary Queen of Scots, and mother to three monarchs who ruled during the religious wars waged between Protestants and Roman Catholics during the 1560s, Catherine de' Medici was a controversial figure. Exerting her influence behind the throne, she was ultimately implicated in the death of hundreds of Protestants during the bloody St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, a reaction to the Protestant Reformation that took place in August of 1572. Reviewing Catherine the Great and the Enlightenment in Russia for Booklist, Gillian Engberg praised the book as "detailed" and "highly readable." Andrew Jackson, another Whitelaw biography that is part of the "Notable Americans" series, was praised by Booklist reviewer Roger Leslie as a "finely written, information-packed" account of the life of America's seventh president.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 1, 1995, Jeanne Triner, review of Mr. Civil Rights: The Story of Thurgood Marshall, p. 64; March 15, 1996, Susan Dove Lempke, review of William Tecumseh Sherman: Defender and Destroyer, p. 1250, and Kay Weisman, Grace Hopper: Programming Pioneer, p. 1260; July, 1997, Carolyn Phelan, review of More Perfect Union: The Story of Alexander Hamilton, p. 1817; March 15, 1998, Diane Janoff, review of Clara Barton: Civil War Nurse, p. 1243; August, 1998, Ilene Cooper, review of Lady Diana Spencer: Princess of Wales, p. 2002; October 1, 1998, Carolyn Phelan, review of Bram Stoker: Author of Dracula, p. 318; January 1, 1999, Anne O'Malley, review of Let's Go! Let's Publish! Katharine Graham and the Washington Post, p. 854; June 1, 1999, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Joseph Pulitzer and the New York World, p. 1812; November 1, 2000, Roger Leslie, review of Andrew Jackson: Frontier President, p. 524; May 15, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Shot Heard 'round the World: The Battles of Lexington and Concord, p. 1749; December 15, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of Jimmy Carter: President and Peacemaker, p. 744; December 15, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of Catherine the Great and the Enlightenment in Russia, p. 735; November 15, 2005, Krista Hutley, review of Dark Dreams: The Story of Stephen King, p. 36.

School Library Journal, February, 2001, Barbara Jo McKee, review of Andrew Jackson, p. 141; July, 2001, Ilene Abramson, review of The Shot Heard 'round the World, p. 133; March, 2002, Andrew Medlar, review of Thomas Jefferson: Philosopher and President, p. 259; December, 2004, Elizabeth Talbot, review of Catherine the Great and the Enlightenment in Russia, p. 172; January, 2005, Ann W. Moore, review of Catherine de' Medici and the Protestant Reformation, p. 157; February, 2005, Ann W. Moore, review of Queen Isabella and the Unification of Spain, p. 154; May, 2005, Patricia Ann Owens, review of Victory in Destruction: The Story of William Tecumseh Sherman, p. 162.

Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 2005, Pam Carlson, review of Victory in Destruction, p. 166.

ONLINE

Nancy Whitelaw Home Page, http://www.nancywhitelaw.com (December 1, 2005).

Cheryl Aylward Whitesel Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights [next]

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