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M. E. Kerr

Biography

M. E. Kerr

"I was very much formed by books when I was young," says M. E. Kerr, award-winning author of many young adult novels. "I was a bookworm and a poetry lover. When I think of myself and what I would have liked to have found in books those many years ago, I remember being depressed by all the neatly tied-up, happy-ending stories, the abundance of winners, the themes of winning, solving, finding --- when around me it didn't seem that easy. So I write with a different feeling when I write for young adults. I guess I write for myself at that age."

Marijane Meaker (which is M. E. Kerr's real name) was born in Auburn, New York and attended the University of Missouri. She then came to New York City with some sorority sisters after graduation. "We were all going to be in advertising or publishing, but I didn't know shorthand, which was my great blessing. Since I couldn't get the good jobs, I got very boring jobs, and wrote all the while." Her first story was sold to Ladies' Home Journal in 1951. Twenty years later, M. E. Kerr wrote her first book for young adults, DINKY HOCKER SHOOTS SMACK! It was an immediate critical and popular success and later was adapted into an ABC-TV "Afterschool Special." Alleen Pace Nilsen's PRESENTING M. E. KERR (1997 Updated Edition, Twayne/Simon & Schuster Macmillan) is an extended examination of Ms. Kerr's life and works.

Ms. Kerr now lives in East Hampton on Long Island, New York. She has written adult mysteries under the name Vin Packer; as M. J. Meaker she has written other books for adults. She finds that there is an important distinction between writing for adults, whose values are already formed, and for young adults, who are concerned with the basics of making and losing friends and wondering what to do with their lives. And, she states, "My 'job' as a writer of books for young people is to entertain them, hope they will want to come back for more."

In 1993, the ALA's Young Adult Library Services Association presented the Margaret A. Edwards Award to M. E. Kerr for DINKY HOCKER SHOOTS SMACK!, GENTLEHANDS, ME ME ME ME ME: Not a Novel, and NIGHT KITES. "M. E. Kerr," says the citation, "is one of the pioneers in realistic fiction for teenagers. Her courage to be different and to address tough current issues without compromising and with a touch of leavening humor, has earned her a place in young adult literature and in the hearts of teenagers."

M. E. Kerr