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Betsy Byars
Born Betsy Cromer
(1928-08-07)August 7, 1928
Charlotte, North Carolina, US
Died February 26, 2020(2020-02-26) (aged 91)
Seneca, South Carolina, US
Occupation Children's author, novelist, freelance writer
  • Furman University
  • Queens College
Period 1962–2010
Genre Children's fiction, Young adult fiction, Historical fiction, Realistic fiction
Notable works
Notable awards Newbery Medal
National Book Award

Betsy Byars (née Cromer; August 7, 1928 – February 26, 2020) was an American author of children's books. Her novel Summer of the Swans won the 1971 Newbery Medal. She has also received a National Book Award for Young People's Literature for The Night Swimmers (1980) and an Edgar Award for Wanted ... Mud Blossom (1991).

Byars has been called "one of the ten best writers for children in the world" by Nancy Chambers, editor of the British literary journal Signal, and in 1987 Byars received the Regina Medal for lifetime achievement from the Catholic Library Association. Due to the popularity of her books with children, she was listed as one of the Educational Paperback Association's top 100 authors.


Betsy Cromer Byars was born August 7, 1928, in Charlotte, North Carolina to George Guy, a cotton mill executive, and Nan (née Rugheimer) Cromer, a homemaker. Her childhood was spent during the Great Depression. She attended Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, from 1946 to 1948, before transferring to Queens College in Charlotte, where she graduated in 1950 with a bachelor's degree in English.

After graduating, Cromer met Edward Ford Byars, a graduate student in engineering at Clemson University, and they married on June 24, 1950. They had three daughters and a son between 1951 and 1958: Laurie, Betsy Ann, Nan, and Guy. In 1956, the family moved from Clemson, South Carolina, to Urbana, Illinois, where Edward pursued further graduate work at the University of Illinois, eventually becoming a professor of engineering at West Virginia University in 1960. While her husband was busy during the day with his studies, Betsy began writing for magazines. Her work was eventually featured in The Saturday Evening Post, Look, Everywoman's Magazine, and TV Guide. Her first novel, Clementine, was published in 1962. Betsy and Ed Byars are both licensed aircraft pilots and lived on an airstrip in Seneca, South Carolina, the bottom floor of their house being a hangar.

Daughters Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers are also children's writers.

Byars moved back to Seneca in 1980 and retired in 1990. She died in Seneca on February 26, 2020.


Collaborations with daughters Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers

  • 2000 My Dog, My Hero
  • 2004 The SOS File
  • 2007 Dog Diaries
  • 2010 Cat Diaries


  • 1991 The Moon and I

Short stories

  • Look back at the Sea
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