Jean Craighead George (b. 2 July 1919 in Washington, D.C.) is an American author. She lives in Chappaqua, New York.
Jean Craighead George has written over one hundred popular books for young adults, including the Newbery Medal and Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis-winning Julie of the Wolves and the Newbery Honor book My Side of the Mountain and the sequel, On the Far Side of the Mountain. Most of her books deal with topics related to the environment and the natural world. While mostly writing children's fiction, she has also written at least two guides to cooking with wild foods, and an autobiography, Journey Inward.
Jean Craighead George was born June 2,1919 in Washington D.C. and raised in a family of naturalists, Jean George has centered her life around writing and nature. Her father, mother, brothers, aunts and uncles were students of nature. On weekends they camped in the woods near their Washington, D.C. home, climbed trees to study owls, gathered edible plants and made fish hooks from twigs. Her first pet was a turkey vulture. In third grade she began writing and hasn't stopped yet. She has written over 100 books.
George graduated, in 1940, from Pennsylvania State University with degrees in both English and science. In the 1940s she was a member of the White House Press Corps and a reporter for The Washington Post. From 1969-1982, she was a writer and editor at Readers Digest. She married John Lothur George in 1944 and they divorced in 1963. Her first novels were written in collaboration with him, and she provided the illustrations for them, done in black and white watercolours or inks. A later editor encouraged her to use other illustrators for her books.
Ms. George has written over a hundred books, among them My Side of the Mountain, a 1960 Newbery Honor Book, and its 1990 sequel On the Far Side of the Mountain. In 1991, Ms. George became the first winner of the School Library Media Section of the New York Library Association's Knickerbocker Award for Juvenile Literature, which was presented to her for the "consistent superior quality" of her literary works.
Her inspiration for the Newbery Medal-winning Julie of the Wolves evolved from two specific events during a summer she spent studying wolves and tundra at the Arctic Research Laboratory of Barrow, Alaska: "One was a small girl walking the vast and lonesome tundra outside of Barrow; the other was a magnificent alpha male wolf, leader of a pack in Denali National Park.... They haunted me for a year or more as did the words of one of the scientists at the lab: 'If there ever was any doubt in my mind that a man could live with the wolves, it is gone now. The wolves are truly gentlemen, highly social and affectionate.' "
The mother of three children, Jean George is a grandmother who has joyfully read to her grandchildren since the time they were born. Over the years Jean George has kept one hundred and seventy-three pets, not including dogs and cats, in her home in Chappaqua, New York. "Most of these wild animals depart in autumn when the sun changes their behaviour and they feel the urge to migrate or go off alone. While they are with us, however, they become characters in my books, articles, and stories."