"I can't remember a time when I wasn't trying to get something down on paper." -- Robert Cormier
Robert Edmund Cormier (January 17, 1925 — November 2, 2000) was an American author, columnist and reporter, known for his deeply pessimistic, downbeat literature. His most popular works include I Am the Cheese, After the First Death, We All Fall Down and The Chocolate War, all of which have won awards. The Chocolate War was challenged in multiple libraries. His books often are concerned with themes such as abuse, mental illness, violence, revenge, betrayal and conspiracy. In most of his novels, the protagonists do not win.
"All the stories I'll ever need are right here on Main Street.""Family life was wonderful. The streets were bleak. The playgrounds were bleak. But home was always warm. My mother and father had a great relationship. I always felt 'safe' there.""I had my bully, and it was excruciating. Not only the bully, but the intimidation I felt.""I have always had a sense that we are all pretty much alone in life, particularly in adolescence.""I simply write with an intelligent reader in mind. I don't think about how old they are.""I take real people and put them in extraordinary situations.""I've had aunts and uncles who not only haven't read my books but could hardly believe that I was a writer.""My dream was to be known as a writer and to be able to produce at least one book that would be read by people. That dream came true with the publication of my first novel - and all the rest has been a sweet bonus.""The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping simile.""There are no taboos. Every topic is open, however shocking. It is the way that the topics are handled that's important, and that applies whether it is a 15-year-old who is reading your book or someone who is 55.""You seldom get a censorship attempt from a 14-year-old boy. It's the adults who get upset."
Robert Cormier was born to Geoffrey Leonard and Irma Cormier, in Leominster, Massachusetts, United States, in the French-Canadian section of the town called French Hill. He was the second of eight children. His family moved frequently to afford rent, but never left his hometown. Even when he was much older and owned a summer home, it was still 19 miles away from Leominster. Cormier attended a private Catholic school, St. Cecilia's Parochial School. He began writing when he was in the first grade. He was praised at school for his poetry. He first realized his aspiration to become a writer during his year in 7th grade, when he was encouraged by a nun to write a poem. He attended Leominster High School, graduating as the president of his class. As a freshman at Fitchburg State College, he had his first short story published when a college professor, Florence Conlon, sent one of his stories to The Sign, a national Catholic magazine, without his knowledge for $75. Cormier began his professional writing career scripting radio commercials and went on to become an award-winning journalist. Even though he became widely known, he never stopped writing for his local newspaper, the Fitchburg Sentinel.
Cormier became a full-time writer after the success of his first novel for teenagers, The Chocolate War, followed by others such as I Am the Cheese and After the First Death. He was concerned with the problems facing young people in modern society, and this concern was reflected in his novels. He soon established a reputation as a brilliant and uncompromising writer. Included in his awards is the Margaret A. Edwards Award of the Young Adult Services Division of the American Library Association. This award is presented in recognition of those authors who provide young adults with a window through which they can view the world, and which will help them to grow and understand themselves and their role in society.
In a few of his books, Cormier's hometown of Leominster became the fictional town of Monument, and French Hill became Frenchtown.
Due to its language and sexual references, The Chocolate War has been challenged in various libraries and schools. In addition to language, the book also depicted secret societies and anarchic students. Between 1990 and 2000, it was rated as the fourth most challenged book according to the American Library Association.