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Barbara Hathaway Biography

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

Born in New York, NY. Education: High school graduate.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Houghton Mifflin, 222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116-3764.


Retired healthcare worker; writer.

Honors Awards

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent, 2005, for Missy Violet and Me.

In Hathaway's debut novel, eleven-year-old Viney learns some important lessons about life and gains a sense of her own strengths and future while working as a midwife's assistant.


Missy Violet and Me, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.


After a long career in healthcare, Barbara Hathaway turned to writing at the recommendation of her mother, who was trying to help Hathaway find ways to spend her time while away from work on disability leave. The result was Missy Violet and Me, an award-winning middle-grade novel that brings to life the crucial role of the midwife in the African-American communities of the rural South during the early years of the twentieth century.

Hathaway draws on the story recounted by her own grandmother, a woman who worked as a midwife for many years, her role often underappreciated by local town folk. The story is told through the eyes of Viney, an eleven-year-old girl who is honored to assist the older woman in her important task, sometimes helping to "catch a baby" and sometimes dealing with more life-threatening issues. As the story continues, Viney grows in knowledge and respect for Missy Violet, and hopes to one day become a midwife herself.

"Unspooled as leisurely as a summer afternoon spent on the front porch, this appealingly nostalgic tale conveys the tenor of the time as well as the affable narrator's growth during one momentous summer," stated a Publishers Weekly reviewer in an appraisal of Missy Violet and Me. According to a Kirkus Reviews critic, "Hathaway's narrative is at its best when describing Viney's reaction to birth." Noting that the storyline sags slightly when used as "a vehicle to explain history," the critic concluded that "first-time author Hathaway, through Viney's irrepressible, plainspoken voice, has a fine debut."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, February 15, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Missy Violet and Me, p. 1075.

Horn Book, March-April, 2005, p. 236.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2004, review of Missy Violet and Me, p. 442.

Publishers Weekly, June 7, 2004, review of Missy Violet and Me, p. 50.

School Library Journal, May, 2004, Faith Brautigam, review of Missy Violet and Me, p. 148.


Houghton Mifflin Web site, http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/ (August 10, 2005), "Barbara Hathaway."

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Bob Graham (1942-) Biography - Awards to Francis Hendy Biography - Born to Sew