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Mary Virginia Fox (1919-) Biography

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

Born 1919, in Richmond, VA; deceased); Education: Northwestern University, B.S. (with honors), 1940. Politics: "Very flexible." Religion: United Church of Christ.




National League of American PEN Women, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Council for Wisconsin Writers (board member, 1984-86).

Honors Awards

Midwest Writers Award, 1960, for Apprentice to Liberty; Juvenile runnerup, Council for Wisconsin Writers, 1976, for Lady for the Defense: A Biography of Belva Lockwood.



Apprentice to Liberty, illustrated by Mel Silverman, Abingdon (Nashville, TN), 1960.

Treasure of the Revolution, Abingdon (Nashville, TN), 1961.

Mary Virginia Fox

Ambush at Fort Dearborn, illustrated by Lorence Bjorklund, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1962.

Treasure of the Hills (a "First Love" book), Silhouette Press (New York, NY), 1987.


Ethel Barrymore: A Portrait, Reilly & Lee (Chicago, IL), 1970.

Pacifists: Adventures in Courage, Reilly & Lee (Chicago, IL), 1971.

Lady for the Defense: A Biography of Belva Lockwood, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1975.

Jane Fonda: Something to Fight For, Dillon (Minneapolis, MN), 1980.

Barbara Walters: The News Her Way, Dillon (Minneapolis, MN), 1980.

Janet Guthrie: Foot to the Floor, Dillon (Minneapolis, MN), 1981.

Jane Goodall: Living Chimp Style, illustrated by Nona Hengen, Dillon (Minneapolis, MN), 1981.

The Skating Heidens, Enslow (Hillside, NJ), 1981.

Richard Leakey, Dillon (Minneapolis, MN), 1981.

Tracy Austin, Dillon (Minneapolis, MN), 1981.

Robin Williams, Dillon (Minneapolis, MN), 1981.

Olivia Newton-John, Dillon (Minneapolis, MN), 1981.

Grandma Moses, Dillon (Minneapolis, MN), 1981.

Mister President: The Story of Ronald Reagan, Enslow (Hillside, NJ), 1982.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Enslow (Hillside, NJ), 1983.

Women Astronauts: Aboard the Space Shuttle, Julian Messner (New York, NY), 1984.

The Statue of Liberty, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1985.

Princess Diana, Enslow (Hillside, NJ), 1986.

A Texas Queen Named King, Eakin (Austin, TX), 1986.

A Life of Her Own, Enslow (Hillside, NJ), 1986.

Ohio, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1987.

About Martin Luther King Day, Enslow (Hillside, NJ), 1989.

The Story of Women Who Shaped the West ("Cornerstones of Freedom" series), Children's Press (New York, NY), 1991.

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians: Champion of Liberty ("People of Distinction" series), Children's Press (New York, NY), 1992.

Bette Bao Lord: Novelist and Chinese Voice for Change ("People of Distinction" series), Children's Press (New York, NY), 1993.

Edwin Hubbel: American Astronomer, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1997.

Douglas MacArthur, Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1999.

Cuba ("Modern Nations of the World" series), Lucent Books (San Diego, CA), 1999.

Colombia, Heinemann Library (Chicago, IL), 2000.

Australia, Heinemann Library (Chicago, IL), 2001.

South American, Heinemann Library (Chicago, IL), 2001.

Costa Rica, Heinemann Library (Chicago, IL), 2001.

North America, Heinemann Library (Chicago, IL), 2001.


Tunisia, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1990.

Gabon, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1991.

New Zealand, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1991.

Iran, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1991.

Bahrain, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1992.

Cyprus, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1993.

Papua New Guinea, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1994.

Somalia, Children's Press (New York, NY), 1996.

Also author of Islands of the Pacific.


Lasers, Benchmark Books (Tarrytown, NY), 1996.

Rockets, Benchmark Books (Tarrytown, NY), 1996

Satellites, Benchmark Books (Tarrytown, NY), 1996.


(Editor) Light up the Sky: HBJ Treasury of Literature, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1993.

Also author of short fiction. Contributor to Encyclopaedia Britannica and to periodicals, including Chicago Tribune, Capital Times, Wisconsin State Journal, Milwaukee Sentinel, Exclusively Yours, Wisconsin Trails, Wanderlust, and Space World. Author of radio scripts.


Mary Virginia Fox has devoted the larger part of her writing career to providing young adults with accurate information on interesting topics through her evergrowing list of nonfiction titles. From bibliographies on female leaders to histories that focus on neglected subjects, Fox offers her readers insight into the lives and challenges of people who have changed our world. Through her contributions to several book books that investigate various countries and new advances in technologies, Fox provides readers access to distant lands and esoteric sciences.

Fox, whose mother was a poet, has "always been a compulsive writer," as she once told SATA. She sold her first short story to Wee Wisdom Magazine when she was just twelve years old; by her early twenties she could boast that her first hardcover book had been published. That book, titled Apprentice to Liberty, was distinguished with a Midwest Writers award, and Fox established herself as a young writer of promise. The author wrote two other historical novels after Apprentice to Liberty, but it was not long before she began to concentrate her efforts on writing biographies.

Fox's earliest biographies allow young readers a look into the lives of influential and high achieving women. Jane Fonda: Something to Fight For, for example, demonstrates how a famous young actress gained the courage to make unpopular political statements. In Barbara Walters: The News Her Way Fox recounts one woman's struggle to become a respected television news reporter. Fox focuses on the adventures and difficulties of a brilliant young scientist who braved the jungle to study primates in Jane Goodall: Living Chimp Style. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is Fox's story of the first female U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Fox offers young readers an understanding of the lives of potential role models with Women Astronauts: Aboard the Space Shuttle. This book, complete with NASA photos, tells a great deal about the careers of these women, from how they train for their jobs to what they wear on the job. Biographical information on eight female astronauts, including Sally Ride, is provided as well. While a critic for Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books wrote that Women Astronauts is marked by enthusiasm and contains "occasional gushing," the reviewer appreciated its "brisk and informative style."

Fox has expanded the subject of her biographies beyond important female figures in more recent books. About Martin Luther King Day explains why a day is set aside to honor a man who advocated peaceful means of achieving racial harmony. Fox explores the ideals and struggles of a courageous Native American leader who fought for freedom in Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians: Champion of Liberty, and in Douglas MacArthur she profiles the famous American World War II military leader. Praising Fox's treatment of the life of a famous astronomer as "accessible," Booklist reviewer Hazel Rochmen added that in Edwin Hubble: American Astronomer the author makes no effort to hide her subject's faults as well as his strengths.

Although much of Fox's work is devoted to American historical and biographical subjects, an appreciation for other lands and cultures is apparent in her contribution to young-adult literature. Fox lived abroad for several years while her husband worked as an adviser to industry in developing countries like the Philippines, Iran, Colombia, and Tunisia. Enriched with such a background, Fox wrote a number of books for the Children's Press "Enchantment of the World" series. In this series, countries are described in terms of their cultures, histories, geography, wildlife, and economies; a glossary, photographs, maps, and a facts-at-a-glance section accompany each text. Fox's Papua New Guinea, for example, tells how the land in this Southeast Asian country was settled by Europeans, explains how the people later earned their independence, and describes contemporary Papua New Guinea society. In Papua New Guinea, Fox also relates how, in 1930, contact was established with an isolated society of indigenous people unknown to the rest of the world. According to Nancy E. Zuwiyya in School Library Journal, Fox's work demonstrates a "fine combination of expository, narrative, and descriptive writing." Other books by Fox that focus on geography include Cuba, part of the Lucent "Modern Nations of the World" series and a book that discusses the country's culture, geography, and history as well as its place in the world economy.

Although she has made a career as a writer of fiction, biography, history, and social studies, Fox once told SATA that she is also "fascinated with space technology and the science of the future. Science fiction isn't half as exciting as the history being written today for our world tomorrow." The author shares her enthusiasm for science in three books for the "Inventors and Inventions" series: Rockets, Lasers, and Satellites. In Rockets, Fox outlines the history of rocket science, beginning in China in 1231 A.D., and examines contemporary rocketry, while Lasers includes a discussion of laser use in crime detection, communications, and medicine.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, September 1, 1989, p. 70; December 1, 1997, Hazel Rochman, review of Edwin Hubble: American Astronomer, p. 621.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 1985, review of Women Astronauts.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 1975, p. 461.

Library Journal, April 15, 1971, p. 1522.

School Library Journal, January, 1993, p. 112; August, 1994, Nancy E. Zuwiyya, review of Papua New Guinea, p. 162; November, 1997, John Peters, review of Edwin Hubble, p. 127; December, 1999, Randi Hacker, review of Douglas MacArthur, p. 149.

Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 1986, p. 243.*

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