Susan Eloise Hinton was born in 1950 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Outsiders was published in 1967, when Hinton was only 17 years old and attending Will Rogers High School. She began writing the first draft of the novel when she was 15, and writing and rewriting took a year and a half before she was happy with the final copy.
The publisher — believing that the book would have more credibility if people assumed that a male had written it — advised her to use her initials, S. E.
Hinton was not a member of a gang when she wrote The Outsiders, but she was a friend to many greasers. She has stated that her biggest compliment was that her greaser friends liked the book. Although she also had friends who were Socs, she definitely did not consider herself a part of that group. Her mother's reaction to the novel was shock; she said, "Susie, where did you pick up all of this?"
The success of The Outsiders enabled Hinton to attend the University of Tulsa where she earned a degree in education in 1970. However, during her student teaching, she decided that she did not have the physical stamina to be a teacher. She found herself teaching all day and then worrying about the kids all night.
Hinton did meet her future husband, David Inhofe, in a freshman biology class, and it was due to him that she finished her second book, That Was Then, This is Now. Hinton was suffering from writer's block, and he forced her to write two pages a day. If she failed to produce two pages during the day, they wouldn't go out that night. They were married in 1970, and That Was Then, This is Now was published in 1971.
Hinton considers her second book, That Was Then, This Is Now, to be better written than The Outsiders. It is about two 16-year-old friends, Mark and Byron, who are like brothers. However, they find their lives pulling apart due to involvement with girls, gangs, and drugs.
Rumble Fish, published in 1975, contains Hinton's most complex character, Motorcycle Boy. She was inspired to write this book from a saved 1967 magazine photo of a boy on a motorcycle. Rumble Fish is a story of two brothers, Rusty-James and Motorcycle Boy, who are almost always there for each other.
Hinton's next book, Tex, published in 1980, is about two delinquent brothers left on their own by a rambling father. In 1982, Disney Studios released Tex, and Hinton agreed to the movie deal with the condition that her horse got to play the lead horse in the movie.
Taming the Star Runner was book number five and a departure from her usual story-telling technique. This story about a brave young girl taming her horse is told in the third person. With the completion of this novel, Hinton took a seven-year break in her writing to concentrate on her only child, Nick.
Big David, Little David and The Puppy Sister were both published in 1995 and are children's books. Big David, Little David is a picture book that was conceived from a joke that her husband played on their child. Hinton considers The Puppy Sister to be her most autobiographical work, because it is about her son and the sibling rivalry that existed between him and their puppy.
Honors and Awards
S. E. Hinton has received numerous honors and awards. She won the Margaret Alexander Edwards Award in 1988. This award honors authors "whose book or books, over a period of time, have been accepted by young people as an authentic voice that continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions, giving insight into their lives."
S. E. Hinton has won the following awards for her first novel, The Outsiders:
- New York Herald Tribune Best Teenage Books List, 1967
- Chicago Tribune Book World Spring Book Festival Honor Book, 1967
- Media and Methods Maxi Award, 1975
- American Library Association Best Young Adults Books, 1975
- Massachusetts Children's Book Award, 1979
Hinton received the following awards for That Was Then, This Is Now:
- American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults, 1971
- Chicago Tribune Book World Spring Book Festival Honor Book, 1971
- Massachusetts Children's Book Award, 1978
Hinton won these awards for Rumble Fish:
- American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults, 1975
- School Library Journal Best Books of the Year, 1975
Hinton has received the following awards for Tex:
- American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults, 1979
- School Library Journal Best Books of the Year, 1979
- New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age, 1980
- American Book Award Nomination, 1981
- Sue Hefly Honor Book, Louisiana Association of School Librarians, 1982
- California Young Reader Medal Nomination, 1982
- Sue Hefly Award, Louisiana Association of School Librarians, 1983