Life and Background
Elaine Lobl Konigsburg is the author and illustrator of humorous, thought-provoking novels and stories for adolescents and young children. She has won the Newbery Medal twice — first for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1967), and then for A View From Saturday (1991). In 1967, Konigsburg's novel Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth (1967) was named a Newbery Honor Book. Konigsburg is the only author to have one book win a Newbery Medal and another book receive a Newbery honor in the same year. Konigsburg's books are amusing; however, they include a serious element that usually relates to an adolescent's search for the answer to the question, "Who am I?" Her protagonists are witty, intelligent, articulate characters. Konigsburg writes about a wide variety of topics in many different genres, including historical fiction, contemporary realism, fantasy, and picture books for children.
Konigsburg was born on February 10, 1930, in New York City, to Adolph Lobl, a businessman, and Beulah Klein. She was the second of three daughters. Konigsburg didn't grow up in New York City. Instead, she spent most of her childhood living with her family in small towns in Pennsylvania. As a child, Konigsburg was a voracious reader. Most of the time, she read in the bathroom of her house, because it was the only room that had a lock on the door and because she could run water to hide the fact that she was crying over a sentimental scene in a book. Konigsburg admits that she read a lot of "trashy" books during her childhood and adolescence. Her favorite books however, were Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little by E.B. White and Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Konigsburg did exceptionally well in her school courses and graduated as valedictorian from Farrell High School.
During the year after high school, Konigsburg worked as a bookkeeper in a wholesale meat plant. David Konigsburg, a brother of one of the owners of the meat plant, visited the office and he and Elaine became friendly. When she finally had enough money for her first year of college, Konigsburg enrolled in Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh as a chemistry major. She was the first person in her family to go to college. In 1952, she graduated with honors and received a Bachelor of Science degree. She married David Konigsburg on July 6, 1952. While her husband studied psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, Konigsburg pursued her studies in chemistry. She attended graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh until 1954.
After her husband completed his doctoral degree in psychology, the couple moved to Jacksonville, Florida. Konigsburg got a job teaching science at Bartram, a private school for girls. While teaching, she became more interested in the uncomfortable feelings the adolescents were experiencing than in the science classes themselves. She quit teaching in 1955, a short time before her son Paul was born. A year later, after her daughter, Laurie, was born, Konigsburg took up painting. In 1959, her third child, Ross, was born. The following year, Konigsburg returned to teaching part-time. She taught for two years, and, in 1962, her family moved to the metropolitan New York area. When her younger son started school, Konigsburg began writing. Her first two books, Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, were published in 1967. Konigsburg and her family moved back to Jacksonville, Florida, in 1968. In the middle of moving, she found out that From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was a Newbery Medal winner and Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth was named a Newbery Honor Book.
Since winning her first Newbery Medal Award, Konigsburg has written and illustrated numerous books. Her audience is mostly made up of junior high school students or students in late elementary school. Her writing has received much acclaim. Twenty-nine years after winning her first Newbery Medal, Konigsburg won her second Newbery Medal Award, this time for The View From Saturday.
Today, Konigsburg lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, with her husband, David. When she isn't writing, she enjoys reading, drawing, painting, and walking on the beach.
Konigsburg's Selected Works
Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth (1967)
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1967)
About the B'Nai Bagels (1969)
Altogether, One at a Time (1971)
A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver (1973)
The Dragon in the Ghetto Caper (1974)
The Second Mrs. Giaconda (1975)
Father's Arcane Daughter (1976)
Throwing Shadows (1979)
Journey to an 800 Number (1982)
Up From Jericho Tel (1986)
The Mask Beneath the Face: Reading About and With, Writing About and for Children (1990)
Samuel Todd's Book of Great Colors (1990)
Samuel Todd's Book of Great Inventions (1991)
Amy Elizabeth Explores Bloomingdale's (1992)
T-Backs, T-Shirts, COAT, and Suit (1993)
TalkTalk: A Children's Book Author Speaks to Grown-Ups (1995)
The View From Saturday (1996)
Silent to the Bone (2000)