Virginia Esther Hamilton (March 12, 1934 – February 19, 2002) was an African-American author of children’s books. She wrote 41 books, including M. C. Higgins, the Great, for which she won the U.S. National Book Award in category Children’s Books and the Newbery Medal in 1975.
For lifetime achievement Hamilton won the international Hans Christian Andersen Award for writing children’s literature in 1992 and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for her contributions to American children’s literature in 1995.
Named for her grandfather’s home state, Virginia Hamilton grew up in Yellow Springs, Ohio among a sprawling extended family, many of whom owned neighbouring farms where the young Virginia was welcome. Her family encouraged her to read and write widely.
She met the poet Arnold Adoff while living in New York, and married him in 1960. The two would later return with their children to live on the farm where Hamilton was raised, which her family had owned since the 1850s.
Hamilton’s first book as a child was “The Novel”. In 1967, she published Zeely.
Hamilton died of breast cancer on February 19, 2002, in Dayton, Ohio although she was a resident of Yellow Springs. Three books have been published posthumously: Bruh Rabbit and the Tar Baby Girl (2003), Wee Winnie Witch’s Skinny (2004), and Virginia Hamilton: Speeches, Essays, and Conversations, edited by Arnold Adoff and Kacy Cook (2010).