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Kay Cornelius (1933-)


Young-adult author Kay Cornelius has had a passion for words ever since she was a little girl growing up in the south. Today she is the author of novels for both adults and younger readers as well as works of nonfiction reflecting her interest in history. Her books include the juvenile biographies Francis Marion; The Swamp Fox and Chamique Holdsclaw as well as the historical novels Love's Gentle Journey, Anita's Fortune, and Twin Willows, all of which are Christian romances. Carolyn Janssen, writing in School Library Journal, praised Francis Marion for its "lively" narrative focusing on the man who led the British cavalry into the muck and mire of a South Carolina swamp during the American Revolution.

Prior to writing full time, Cornelius worked as an English teacher up until her retirement in 1990. She also wrote test units for the PSAT and College Board specialized-subject achievement tests, as well as reviewing the Board's English literature examination. As she told Something about the Author: "Like most authors, I was read to long before I started to school. Born Southern, I was surrounded by natural storytellers, Drawing on letters and other original documents, Cornelius introduces readers to Revolutionary War leader General Francis Marion, who led the South Carolina militia to victory against the British in sometimes difficult terrain and gained the name "the swamp fox." and since my father ran the local 'picture show,' I also absorbed hundreds of movies. I loved working with words and finding new ways to express myself, so it was only natural that after winning a four-year college scholarship for a 750-word essay in a national contest, I should major in English and become a teacher.

"While I continued to write sporadically, my present writing career grew out of my participation in the National Writing Project at Auburn University in 1981. The intensive writing led me to combine my love of historical research and story-telling to produce my first novel, Love's Gentle Journey. Since its publication in 1985, it has been almost constantly in print. After I retired from teaching in 1990, I started writing full-time. I approach each new project with prospective readers in mind. I want my work to be entertaining as well as informative and inspiring.

"It's satisfying to conduct writing workshops and mentor authors. I tell them writing is hard work, but seeing their name in print on something that will live on after they are gone is well worth the effort."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Publishers Weekly, January 18, 1999, review of Twin Willows, p. 336.

School Library Journal, July, 2001, Carolyn Janssen, review of Francis Marion: The Swamp Fox, p. 118.


Heartsong Presents Web site, http://www.heartsongpresents.com/ (October 22, 2004).

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Ciara Biography - Wrote Out Goals to Elizabeth David (1913–1992) BiographyKay Cornelius (1933-) Biography - Writings, Sidelights - Personal, Addresses, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Work in Progress