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Judy Blume
Blume smiling while signing a book
Blume at a book signing in 2010
Born Judy Sussman
February 12, 1938 (1938-02-12) (age 83)
Elizabeth, New Jersey, U.S.
Occupation Writer, teacher
Nationality American
Alma mater New York University
Period 1969–present
Genre Realist young adult novels, children's books
Notable works
Notable awards Margaret Edwards Award
1996
Spouse
  • John M. Blume (1959–1975; divorced; 2 children)
  • Thomas A. Kitchens (1976–1979; divorced)
  • George Cooper (1987–present; 1 stepdaughter)

Judy Blume (née Judith Sussman; February 12, 1938) is an American writer of children's, young adult and adult fiction. In 1969, Blume began writing and has published over 25 novels since then. Some of her best known works are Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. (1970), Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972), Deenie (1973), and Blubber (1974). Blume's books have significantly contributed to children's and young adult literature.

Blume was born and raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and graduated from New York University in 1961. As an attempt to entertain herself in her role as a homemaker, Blume began writing stories. Throughout her life, Blume has been married three times. As of 2020, she has three children and one grandson.

Blume was a catalyst for the movement of controversial topics being expressed in children's and young adult literature. Her novels have sold over 82 million copies and have been translated into 32 languages.

She has won many awards for her writing, including American Library Association (ALA)'s Margaret A. Edwards Award in 1996 for her contributions to young adult literature. She was recognized as a Library of Congress Living Legend and also awarded the 2004 National Book Foundation medal for distinguished contribution to American letters.

Blume's novels are very popular and widely loved. Many praise Blume's novels for teaching children and young adults about their bodies.

There have also been several media adaptations from Blume's novels. The most well-known adaptation is of her novel Tiger Eyes which was turned into a movie in 2012, with Willa Holland starring as Davey.

Life

Early life

Blume was born on February 12, 1938, and raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the daughter of homemaker Esther Sussman (née Rosenfeld) and dentist Rudolph Sussman. She has a brother, David, who is five years older. Her family was culturally Jewish.

Throughout her childhood, Blume participated in many creative activities such as dance and piano. Blume attributes her love of reading as a trait passed on by her parents. She has recalled spending much of her childhood creating stories in her head. Despite the love of stories, as a child Blume did not dream of being a writer.

She graduated from the all-girls' Battin High School in 1956, then enrolled in Boston University. A few weeks into the first semester, she was diagnosed with mononucleosis and took a brief leave from school. In 1959, Blume's father died. Later that same year, on August 15, 1959, she married lawyer John M. Blume, whom she had met while a student at New York University. Blume graduated from New York University in 1961 with a bachelor's degree in Education.

Adult life

After college, Blume's daughter Randy Lee Blume was born and Blume became a homemaker. In 1963, she gave birth to her son, Lawrence Andrew Blume. Blume began writing when her children began nursery school. John M. Blume and Judy Blume were divorced in 1975. Shortly after her separation, she met Thomas A. Kitchens, a physicist. The couple married in 1976, and they moved to New Mexico for Kitchens' work. They divorced in 1979.

A few years later, a mutual friend introduced her to George Cooper, a former law professor turned non-fiction writer. Blume and Cooper were married in 1987. Cooper has one daughter, Amanda, from a previous marriage to whom Blume is very close.

In August 2012, Blume announced that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Blume was cancer-free following this surgery and able to recover.

Randy Blume became a therapist with a sub-specialty in helping writers complete their works. She has one child, Elliot Kephart who is credited with encouraging his grandmother, Judy Blume, to write the most recent "Fudge" books. Lawrence Blume is now a movie director, producer, and writer. As of 2020, Cooper and Blume are still married and reside in Key West.

Career

A lifelong avid reader, Blume first began writing through New York University courses when her children were attending preschool. Following two years of publisher rejections, Blume published her first book, The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo, in 1969. Only a year later, Blume published her second book, Iggie's House (1970), which was originally written as a story in Trailblazer magazine but then rewritten by Blume into a book. The decade that followed proved to be her most prolific, with 13 more books being published. Her third book was Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. (1970) which was a breakthrough best-seller and a trailblazing novel in young adult literature. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret established Blume as a leading voice in young adult literature. Some of Blume's other well-known novels during this decade were Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972), Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great (1972), and Blubber (1974).

As of 2020, her books have sold over 82 million copies and they have been translated into 32 languages. Although Blume has not published a novel since 2008, she continues to write. In October 2017, Yale University acquired Blume's archive, which included some unpublished early work.

In addition to writing books, Blume has been an activist against banned books in America. In the 1980s when her books started facing censorship and controversy, she began reaching out to other writers, as well as teachers and librarians, to join the fight against censorship. This led Blume to join the National Coalition Against Censorship which aims to protect the freedom to read. As of 2020, Blume is still a board member for the National Coalition Against Censorship. She is also the founder and trustee of a charitable and education foundation, called "The Kids Fund." Blume serves on the board for other organizations such as, the Authors Guild; the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators; the Key West Literary Seminar; and the National Coalition Against Censorship." In 2018, Blume and her husband opened a non-profit book store called Books & Books located in Key West.

Works

Children’s books

Young adult books

  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (1970)
  • Then Again, Maybe I Won’t (1971)
  • Deenie (1973)
  • Forever (1975)
  • Tiger Eyes (1981)
  • Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson (1993)
  • Places I Never Meant to Be (1999)

Adult books

  • Wifey (1978)
  • Smart Women (1983)
  • Summer Sisters (1998)
  • In the Unlikely Event (2015)

Collaborative short stories

  • It’s Fine to Be Nine (2000)
  • It’s Heaven to Be Seven (2000)

Non-Fiction books

  • The Judy Blume Diary (1981)
  • Letter to Judy: What Your Kids Wish They Could Tell You (1986)
  • The Judy Blume Memory Book (1988)

Awards and honors

Judy Blume has won more than 90 literary awards, including three lifetime achievement awards in the United States.

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