Born in New Jersey in 1938, Judy Blume began her writing career in the 1960s. She found success with the 1970 coming-of-age story Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret, and cemented her popularity among young readers with Blubber (1974) and Forever... (1975). A proponent of intellectual freedom, Blume has also penned such books as Wifey (1978) and In the Unlikely Event (2015) for adult audiences.
Author Judy Blume was born Judith Sussman on February 12, 1938, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The second child of Esther, a homemaker, and Rudolph, a dentist, Blume was given the chance to expend her creative energies through an array of activities that included piano and dance lessons. She especially enjoyed reading, and constantly made up stories in her head.
After attending the all-girls' Battin High School, Blume was forced to leave Boston University after just two weeks upon contracting mononucleosis. She resumed her education at New York University, during which time she met lawyer John Blume. They were married shortly after the death of Judy Blume's father in 1959, and she graduated with a B.S. in education in 1961.
Having given birth to two children, daughter Randy and son Lawrence, by age 25, Blume sought to satisfy her creative urges by taking a writing course at NYU. Following years of rejections, she became a first-time author when her illustrated children's book The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo was published in 1969. Blume followed with her first novel, Iggie's House (1970), about an African-American family that moves into a white neighborhood.
It was Blume's following book, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret (1970), that firmly established her as a leading voice for younger readers. Focusing on a girl who wonders about the pending arrival of her period and her parents' competing faiths, Blume deftly tapped into her experiences from pre-adolescence to deliver an endearing, honest coming-of-age story.
Her subsequent books Deenie (1973) and Forever… (1975) touched on the similarly sensitive but universal issues of body image and teenage sexuality. Other works, such as Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972), Blubber (1974) and Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself (1977), while geared toward younger readers, nonetheless stood out for stark portrayals of family strife and childhood angst.
By 1975, Blume had grown bored with her suburban life and divorced her husband. She met physicist Thomas Kitchens and quickly remarried, but by the end of the decade she was divorced again. Such experiences fueled the creation of more mature material, and in 1978 she published Wifey, about a repressed housewife.
Blume added another adult novel with Smart Women in 1983, but she mainly continued writing for younger audiences. She revisited her Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing characters with the 1980 sequel Superfudge, and mined the painful memory of losing her father for Tiger Eyes (1981). Later young adult fare included Just as Long as We're Together (1987) and its 1993 follow-up, Here's to You, Rachel Robinson.
Despite the overwhelming popularity of her stories, Blume found herself a target for censors who sought to have her sensitive material removed from bookshelves. Five of her works – Forever…, Blubber, Are You There, God?, Deenie and Tiger Eyes – made the American Library Association's list of the 100 most frequently challenged books from the decade of 1990–99.
As a result, Blume joined the National Coalition Against Censorship to speak out in favor of intellectual freedom. She also edited the 1999 book Places I Never Meant to Be, a collection of short stories by authors who had also felt pressure from censors.
Recent Works and Accolades
Blume teamed up with son Lawrence, a filmmaker, to write and produce the screen version of Tiger Eyes. Released in 2012, it was the first major adaptation of one of her books.
In the spring of 2015, Blume published her first novel in 17 years, In the Unlikely Event. Based on an unusual period from her childhood, when three planes crashed in her hometown over the span of two months, the book explores how such tragic events can affect families for generations.
The famed author has sold more than 85 million books, her words translated into nearly three dozen languages. Among her lengthy list of accolades, she was honored by American Library Association with the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1996, and the Library of Congress with its Living Legends Award in 2000.
Having found stability and happiness in her third marriage, to former law professor George Cooper, Blume splits her time between Key West, New York City and Martha's Vineyard. The couple have been married since 1987. She is also stepmother to Amanda Cooper, a political consultant. Along with her writing, she has developed a reputation for engaging with fans over Twitter.
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