Jane Hyatt Yolen was born on in New York City in 1939. Her father was a journalist and her mother created crossword and acrostic puzzles. As she was growing up, her family moved between New York, California, Virginia, and Connecticut.
She started writing at an early age and by the time she was in junior high school she and her brother were writing stories for an apartment newsletter they created. In high school she was the editor of the school paper (and captain of the girls’ basketball team).
Yolen attended Smith College where she won numerous awards for her poetry. She wrote the lyrics to a class musical where she sang in the senior show, earning a standing ovation.
After graduation, she moved to New York City and began working as an editor. But was writing her own stories and poems in every spare moment and sold her first book on her birthday in 1961. The following year, she married David Stemple. Together they had 3 children.
Yolen has written over 300 books, many of which have won awards. She has also received numerous honors for lifetime achievements. Newsweek magazine called her the “Hans Christian Andersen of America”.