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Donald J. Sobol
Born (1924-10-04)October 4, 1924
New York City, New York
Died July 11, 2012(2012-07-11) (aged 87)
Miami, Florida
Occupation Novelist
Genre Juvenile Mystery Fiction
Notable works Encyclopedia Brown
Spouse Rose Tiplitz

Donald J. Sobol (October 4, 1924 – July 11, 2012) was an American writer best known for his children's books, especially the Encyclopedia Brown mystery series.

Early life and education

Donald Sobol was born in The Bronx, New York City, New York, to Ira J. and Ida (Gelula) Sobol. Ira Sobol owned a few gas stations that eventually were sold. Donald attended the NYC Ethical Culture Fieldston School and graduated in 1942.

He served with the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II in the Pacific Theater. Following the war, he attended Oberlin College, where he earned a bachelor's degree. He also attended the New School of Social Research.


Sobol's career began as a copy boy for the New York Sun, and he eventually worked his way up to reporter. In 1949, he started work at the Daily News and remained there for two years. After a brief stint as a buyer at Macy's in New York, he moved to Florida and started writing full-time.

He started writing the syndicated series Two-Minute Mysteries in 1959, starring criminologist Dr. Haledjian. It proved very popular and ran for more than ten years. In 1963, he started writing the Encyclopedia Brown series, featuring Leroy "Encyclopedia" Brown, a schoolboy that was an amateur sleuth. Encyclopedia Brown books are more juvenile-oriented, often dealing with matters such as pranks or petty theft. Sobol's Encyclopedia Brown titles have never been out of print and have been translated into twelve languages. Sobol was rejected two dozen times before his first Encyclopedia Brown book was published.

In 1975, the Mystery Writers of America honored Sobol and his Encyclopedia Brown series with a Special Edgar Award. The last book in the series penned by Sobol, Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Soccer Scheme, was published in October 2012, three months after the author's death.

Sobol wrote the children's novel Secret Agents Four, in which a group of Miami teenagers attempt to thwart foreign saboteurs. Sobol also penned the non-fiction book True Sea Adventures, published in 1975.

Sobol wrote more than 65 books. In addition to the books he wrote for children, Sobol also wrote a number of nonfiction books on topics ranging from US civil war history to investing. He also wrote and contributed to magazines under a variety of pen names. His manuscripts are stored at the University of Minnesota, in the Kerlan Collection.

Personal life and final years

Sobol was married to Rose (née Tiplitz) who was both an engineer and author. Sobol left behind three children: John, Eric and Diane as well as four grandchildren. A fourth child, Glen, died at age 23 in a car accident in 1983.

On July 11, 2012, Sobol died from gastric lymphoma at the age of 87.

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