Jerry Spinelli (born February 1, 1941) is an author of children's novels on adolescence and early adulthood. He is best known for the novels Maniac Magee and Wringer.
Spinelli was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania and currently resides in Wayne, PA. At the age of sixteen, his love of sports inspired him to compose a poem about a recent football victory. Later, unbeknownst to him, his father published it in the local newspaper. It was at this time he realized that he would not become a Major League Baseball player, and decided to become a writer instead.
During his time at Gettysburg College, Spinelli spent his time writing short stories and was the editor of the college literary magazine. After graduation, he became a writer and editor for a department store magazine. The next twenty years, he spent his time working ordinary jobs during the day so that he had the energy to write fiction in his spare time. He found himself writing during lunch breaks, on weekends, and after dinner.
His first four novels were written for adults and were all rejected. His fifth novel was also intended for adults, but became his first children's book. This work, Space Station Seventh Grade, was published in 1982.
Spinelli graduated from Gettysburg College in 1963 and acquired his MA from Johns Hopkins University in 1964. He married Eileen Mesi in 1977, who also writes children's books. They have six children and sixteen grandchildren.