Author Beverly Cleary, author of numerous children’s books featuring such memorable characters as Henry Huggins and Ramona Quimby, died Thursday at the age of 104, according to a statement from her publisher, HarperCollins.
Cleary wrote more than 40 books for children, beginning in 1950 with Henry Huggins, about a third grader who adopts a stray dog named Ribsy. A reviewer for Kirkus called it “a collection of light, gay episodes, sure to please.”
Cleary wrote several more books featuring Henry, but she was best known for the character of Ramona Quimby. Ramona began as the obnoxious little sister of Henry’s friend Beatrice “Beezus” Quimby in Henry and Beezus, and soon she was the central figure in a number of books, including Ramona the Pest, Ramona the Brave, and Ramona Forever.
Cleary won Newbery Honors for Ramona and Her Father in 1978 and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 in 1984. Her books have sold more than 85 million copies worldwide and been translated into 29 different languages. The Ramona Quimby books were adapted for a 2009 film, Ramona and Beezus, starring Joey King and Selena Gomez.
Cleary was born in McMinville, Oregon, in 1916, and grew up on her family farm in Yamhill and later in Portland. After earning a degree in librarianship from the University of Washington, she worked as a children’s librarian before starting to write her own books. Cleary wrote about her early life in two memoirs, A Girl From Yamhill and My Own Two Feet.
Cleary’s many fans responded to the news of her death on Twitter. Bestselling author Laurie Halse Anderson wrote, “Oh, my heart! Thank you, Miss Beverly, for helping turn me into a reader. I hope you are enjoying the library on the other side.”
Chelsea Clinton tweeted, “Ramona brought me so much joy as a child and inspired me to ask my Grandma Ginger to quit smoking for my 8th birthday (she did!). Have loved sharing her books with my children.”
Holding Beverly Cleary’s family and loved ones in my heart. Ramona brought me so much joy as a child and inspired me to ask my Grandma Ginger to quit smoking for my 8th birthday (she did!). Have loved sharing her books with my children.— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) March 26, 2021
May her memory be a blessing. https://t.co/SMWPubdPzg
And Errin Haines, editor at large for The 19th, said, “Thank you Beverly Cleary for creating characters we could relate to as young girls. I never had a sister, but felt like I understood what sisterhood was like because of Beezus and Ramona. Long live Klickitat Street.”
Thank you Beverly Cleary for creating characters we could relate to as young girls. I never had a sister, but felt like I understood what sisterhood was like because of Beezus and Ramona. Long live Klickitat Street. https://t.co/9r49pVV0AI— Goodnight, Books 📚 (@emarvelous) March 26, 2021
Tom Beer is the editor-in-chief.