Beverly Cleary; in memoriam
Beloved childhood author of “Ramona and Beezus” passes away at 104.
“I don’t think children themselves have changed that much. It’s the world that has changed.” -Beverly Cleary
Everyone has characters from their childhood that they read about in books and connect with on some level. Those characters we read about when we were younger are the ones we carry throughout our lives. Ramona and Beezus Quimby may be those characters for some, and for others they may just be some familiar names.
The Quimby sisters were first introduced in 1955 by the beloved childhood author Beverly Cleary. On March 25, Beverly Cleary passed away at the age of 104. Her stories, including “Ramona and Beezus,” will carry on Cleary’s legacy for years to come.
Cleary wrote her first book in 1950 titled “Henry Huggins” and it immediately became a new standard for children’s fiction. Cleary was a librarian at the time and wanted to take children’s fiction to a new, realistic degree. She wanted her characters to be relatable to any middle class young reader.
Cleary was born up here in the Pacific Northwest in McMinnville, Oregon. She then married Clarence Cleary in 1940, against her parent’s wishes. After uniting, the two moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea, California where they lived with their two children, Malcolm and Marianne. Beverly was married to Clarence for 64 years until he passed away in 2004.
Cleary graduated from our very own University of Washington in 1939 before becoming a librarian. With her love of books, Cleary began to write for children. She went on to write numerous children’s novels from 1950 until 1999, when she published her final book, “Ramona’s World.”
Her character, Ramona, was actually created by accident. Ramona Quimby, along with her sister Beezus, started as friendly neighbors in the “Henry Huggins” stories. Before Cleary knew it, people seemed to love Ramona, so she decided to create her own world and stories, which quickly became a hit.
Apart from her most well known works like “Ramona and Beezus” and “Henry Huggins,” Cleary also wrote other titles such as “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” in 1965. This was the start of a series about a talking mouse and his everyday life. In these books, you can expect a similar formula to Cleary’s other titles — Ralph the mouse faces problems in his life that he learns to solve. Cleary’s goal was to keep writing about realistic problems but this time through the perspective of a mouse, hoping that younger readers would connect better.
Losing authors is never easy, especially when we were able to get a glimpse into their minds during their lifetime. Losing an author from your childhood is a completely different story because the characters and stories those authors created are often the ones we hold dearly. The stories Beverly Cleary gave us have lived on for many years, and will continue to do so for years to come.