5 minute read

Barbara Shoup (1947-) Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

Born 1947, in Hammond, IN; children: Jennifer, Katherine. Education: Indiana University, B.S., 1972, M.S., 1976. Hobbies and other interests: Travel, art.


Agent—Transatlantic Literary Agency, 72 Glengowan Rd., Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4N 1G4.


Learning Unlimited, North Central High School, Indianapolis, IN, community programs coordinator, 1975-78; Indiana University, Bloomington, associate instructor in creative writing, 1979; Indianapolis Museum of Art, school programs coordinator, 1980; Broad Ripple High School Center for the Humanities and the Performing Arts, Indianapolis, writer-in-residence, 1982-2001; Prelude Academy, Indianapolis Children's Museum and Penrod Society, Indianapolis, coordinator, 1985-87, 2000; Butler University School of Education, adjunct instructor, 1998—; Writers' Center of Indianapolis, writer-in-residence and program coordinator, 2002. Member, Indiana Arts Commission grants panels, 1983-86; fiction judge, Society of Midland Authors and National Society for Arts and Letters, 1988; Butler University Writers' Studio literary fellow, 1999-2000; member, board of directors, Writers' Center of Indiana, 2002—.


Authors Guild, Authors League, Indiana Teachers of Writing, Indiana Writers' Center, Midland Society of Writers.

Honors Awards

Best Book in Field, Association for Experiential Education, 1980, for Living and Learning for Credit; master artists fellowship, Indiana Arts Commission (IAC)/ National Endowment for the Arts, 1990; Butler University Writers' Studio Literary fellowship, 1990-91, 1994; Pushcart Prize nomination, 1994; Notable Young Adult Book citation, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, 1994, Best Books for Young Adults designation, American Library Association (ALA), 1995, and Midland Society of Authors Children's Book Award finalist, all for Wish You Were Here; International Reading Association Young Adult Choice, and Great Lakes Book Award finalist, both 1998, and ALA Best Book for Young Adults designation, 1999, all for Stranded in Harmony; Eliot Rosewater Award nomination, 1998; Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal fellowship, 1999; IAC individual artist program grant, 2000.



Night Watch, Harper (New York, NY), 1982.

Wish You Were Here, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1994.

Stranded in Harmony, Hyperion Books for Children (New York, NY), 1997.

Faithful Women, Guild Press (Carmel, IN), 1999.

Vermeer's Daughter, Guild Press/Emmis Publishing (Zionsville, IN), 2003.


Living and Learning for Credit, Phi Delta Kappa, 1978.

(With Joan G. Schine and Diane Harrington) New Roles for Early Adolescents in Schools and Communities, National Commission on Resources for Youth, 1981.

(With Freddi Stevens-Jacobi) Learning Unlimited: A Model for Options Education, Washington Township Schools, 1981.

(With Margaret Love Denman) Novel Ideas: Contemporary Authors Share the Creative Process, Alpha Books (Indianapolis, IN), 2001.

Contributing editor, Arts Insight, 1984, and Other Voices, beginning 1991. Contributor to periodicals, including Mississippi Valley Review, Crazy Quilt, Persuasions, Hurricane Alice, Other Voices, Louisville Review, Rhino, Artful Dodge, Writer, Voice of Youth Advocates, Nuvo Newsweekly, and New York Times.


In addition to her long career as an educator, Barbara Shoup has been active as a writer, producing articles, poems, stories, and reviews as well as interviews for various periodicals and also penning longer works of fiction for children and adults. Her novels include Night Watch, Wish You Were Here, Stranded in Harmony, and Vermeer's Daughter.

Wish You Were Here, Shoup's first novel for teens, finds seventeen-year-old Jackson Watt attempting to weather the fall-out from his parents' divorce, trying to sort out his mixed feelings toward a now-absent friend, and figuring out where his responsibility for others ends—including an emotionally dependant girfriend he knows he does not love. "This ambitious debut touches on safe sex, death, self-worth, relationships, love, and the meaning of it all," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer, while in Booklist Jeanne Triner praised Wish You Were Here as "beautifully written" and "a touching, thought-provoking, and very candid coming-of-age tale." "Jackson … is exactly the kind of teenager I love," Shoup once explained of her novel. "He's earnest and funny. He desperately tries to understand things. He's a much, much better person than he believes himself to be. What I find most compelling about him, however, is the grief he feels about his parents' divorce and how the divorce complicates the large and small problems of his adolescent life. I think that it is in the way Jackson wrestles with the ongoing effects of the divorce that he most poignantly represents so many real teenagers of his generation and offers some useful insights into their lives." Praising Vermeer's Daughter as a "warm, compelling story" that introduces readers to the "loving, but chaotic household" of the seventeenth-century Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, School Library Journal contributor Kathy Tewell added that through Shoup's book "the luminous glory of Vermeer's masterpieces are brought vividly to life." While in Vermeer's Daughter Shoup creates a fictional protagonist in the person of Carelina—Vermeer did not have a daughter of that name—many of the historical details are accurate. Carelina serves as the painter's pupil and confidante, working alongside her father in his studio, and sits with him as he discusses the ideas of the day with friends. In addition, the young woman's passion for her father's work, and her continuation of her narrative two decades after her father's death, provides insight into not only Vermeer's art but also into the art's place within the culture that inspired it.

Shoup once told Something about the Author: "I wanted to be a writer from the time I understood what a book was. As soon as I learned how to form the alphabet, I began to write stories in a special blue notebook. I was eleven when I attempted my first novel, the story of a black slave girl journeying north by Underground Railroad. I came home every day after school and worked diligently, secretly until I got the story told. Certainly fame and fortune were imminent—or so I thought until we got to the unit on the Civil War in Social Studies and I learned that the slave railroad was not a subway train that ran from Atlanta to New York City, as I'd imagined it to be. I was so mortified by my mistake that I gave up writing for nearly twenty years. When I began again, it was because one of my high school students asked me whether teaching was what I had always meant to do with my life.

"Teaching has played an important part in my writing and my sense of myself as a writer ever since. I am infinitely fascinated by the lives of my young writers, inspired by the earnestness and courage with which the best of them approach their work. In my years as writer-in-residence at Broad Ripple High School's Center for the Humanities, I collected a wealth of insight about the lives of my students and their families. I've unearthed wonderful details that just cry out to be put into stories."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, October 15, 1994, Jeanne Triner, review of Wish You Were Here, p. 420; July, 1997, Randy Meyer, review of Stranded in Harmony, p. 1811.

Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 1982, p. 898.

Library Journal, October 1, 1982, p. 1896; October 1, 2001, Denise Sticha, review of Novel Ideas: Contemporary Authors Share the Creative Process, p. 116.

Publishers Weekly, July 30, 1982, p. 63; October 24, 1994, review of Wish You Were Here, p. 62; May 12, 1997, review of Stranded in Harmony, p. 77; July 28, 2003, review of Vermeer's Daughter, p. 96.

School Library Journal, September, 2003, Kathy Tewell, review of Vermeer's Daughter, p. 241.


Barbara Shoup Web site, http://www.barbarashoup.com/ (December 31, 2004).

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Paul Anthony Samuelson (1915– ) Biography to Bessie Smith (1895–1937) Biography