2004 Notable Authors

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Marion Dane Bauer
John George Reitci (Jack Ritchie)
Charles D. Stewart
Peter Straub

Marion Dane Bauer 1938-

Marion Dane Bauer was born in Oglesby, Illinois, a small prairie town that she once described as "idyllic." As a dreamy and imaginative child, she made up and wrote stories. Following college in Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma, Bauer married an Episcopal priest, taught high school in Wisconsin and began raising her family. Snatching time to write as a busy wife, mother and foster parent felt like a "secret vice" until her daughter began grade school and she committed herself to her writing.

After first trying her hand (unsuccessfully) at picture books, Bauer worked in the genre of contemporary novels for young people and there found her voice. Foster Child and Shelter From the Wind were her first published novels and garnered critical acclaim and the attention of young readers. She received a Newbery honor for On My Honor in 1986, and a number of other awards and honors for subsequent work.

Throughout her career, she has expanded her writing to include non-fiction for children, picture books, beginning readers, board books, historical fiction, information books for preschoolers and several how-to books for would-be young writers. Her realistic settings, characters and plots are the result of research and travel that allow her to "write what she knows," advice she often gives young writers. The breadth of her work and the detail she brings to each book -- whether for a toddler or a middle grader -- is particularly noteworthy. Her invitation to each reader to join her in the wonder as well as the hardships and choices of real life are a hallmark of her distinctive body of work.

Selected Bibliography:
Shelter from the Wind, Clarion, 1976
On My Honor, Ticknor & Fields, 1986
Touch the Moon, Ticknor & Fields, 1987
A Question of Trust, Scholastic, 1994
When I Go Camping with Grandma, Bridgewater Books, 1995
Sleep, Little One, Sleep, Clarion, 1999
If You Had a Nose Like an Elephant's Trunk, Holiday, 2001
Frog's Best Friend, Holiday, 2002
Runt, The Story of a Wolf Pup, 2002
Land of the Buffalo Bones: The Diary of Mary Ann Elizabeth Rodgers, an English Girl in Minnesota, Scholastic, 2003
Toes, Ears and Nose, Little Simon, 2003

John George Reitci (Jack Ritchie), 1922-1983

Jack Ritchie was born in Milwaukee in 1922, where he remained until joining the Army during World War II. After the war, he returned to Milwaukee and worked in his family's tailor shop. It was not until 1953, at the age of 31, that he sold his first short story, "Always the Season," to the New York Daily News.

In 1954, he married Rita Krohn, an author of historical adventure novels, and moved to Washington Island. In 1964, as their family grew, they moved near Jefferson, Wisconsin.

Jack Ritchie is primarily known for his crime and mystery short stories. He contributed over 100 short stories to Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine during the 1970's. Between 1961 and 1979, his works appeared 17 times in The Best Detective Stories of the Year.

He created Detective Henry Turnbuckle and Cardula, the vampire sleuth. In 1971, one of his stories, "The Green Heart," was made into a movie, The New Leaf, starring Walter Matthau and Elaine May. He is also credited as a writer for an episode of Tales of the Unexpected and an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

His short story, "The Absence of Emily," won an Edgar Award in 1981, from the Mystery Writers of America.

He is credited with writing over 500 short stories before his sudden death of a heart attack in 1983.

Selected Bibliography:
A New Leaf and Other Stories, Dell, 1971
The Adventures of Henry Turnbuckle: Detective Comedies, Southern Illinois University Press, 1987
Little Boxes of Bewilderment: Suspense Comedies, St. Martin's Press, 1989
Tiger Island, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Foundation, 1987

Charles D. Stewart, 1868-1960

Charles D. Stewart was born in Zanesville, Ohio, on March 18, 1868, and, as a small boy, moved with his family to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He briefly attended Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam before dropping out at age 16 to seek his fortune as a crew member on Mississippi and Missouri river steamboats. That adventure was followed by a period during which he worked as a ranch hand in central Texas. In 1887, Stewart returned to Wisconsin. He moved to a home on Pike Lake near Hartford in 1907, and resided there until his death in 1960.

Stewart's first published works were a series of humorous sketches written for Peck's Sun, followed by another series of articles written for the "Reflections" column in Century Magazine.

From that point on, Stewart devoted the rest of his life to writing and public speaking, except for a brief time (1915-1916) during which he served as the executive secretary for Wisconsin Governor Emanuel Philipp.

"An essayist of the old-fashioned mode, familiar and witty, leisurely, but literate. His reputation rests largely on his two collections of essays (Essays on the Spot and Fellow Creatures), but he was also a writer of great merit." -Richard Boudreau, The Literary Heritage of Wisconsin.

"A keen appreciation of the beautiful and a ready imagination." -Charles Rounds, Wisconsin Authors and Their Work.

"(His) books and short stories have more than ordinary merit...and will well repay a careful reading and rereading." -Titus, Wisconsin Writers.

Stewart's best novels are The Fugitive Blacksmith, the story of a blacksmith wrongly accused of murder, and Partners in Providence, a bittersweet tale of Missouri River steamboating, similar to Huckleberry Finn. Stewart was also a noted Shakespeare critic.

Selected Bibliography:
The Fugitive Blacksmith, Century, 1905
Partners in Providence, Century, 1907
Essays on the Spot,
 Houghton Mifflin, 1910
Finerty of the Sand-house, Century, 1913
Fellow Creatures, Little, Brown, and Company, 1935

Peter Straub, 1943- 

Peter Straub is well known as a best-selling horror writer, but that perception is somewhat incomplete. Certainly, most of Straub's novels do have elements of horror; however, Straub's writing is also characterized by a literate, witty style; thoughtful considerations of the nature of evil; and playful, complex plot elements.

Peter Straub was born March 2, 1943, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He received a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.A. from Columbia University. He has been writing full-time since 1969, producing over 14 novels, numerous short stories and occasional poetry.

Straub has set high standards for himself, thus often expanding the limits of horror fiction. In fact, Straub has won and/or been nominated for the World Fantasy Award three times. He has been awarded the Bram Stoker Prize from the Horror Writers Association three times. He has also received the August Derleth Award.

In his breakthrough novel, Ghost Story, critic Christopher Lehmann-Haupt observed that Straub is "very good at writing eerie set-pieces" and creating complex stories. Though reviews of earlier works were mixed, a Newsweek critic has stated that Ghost Story was "the best thing of its kind since Shirley Jackson's Haunting of Hill House." Readers and critics both felt that Floating Dragon, which tells of a malevolent spirit that periodically visits an affluent New England suburb, represented a new level of narrative sophistication in his work. However, the Blue Rose Trilogy (Koko, Mystery, and Throat), which is the story of four Vietnam vets who cooperate to track down a former platoon member who may be a serial killer, has attracted the most glowing reviews. One critic described Koko as "not only a tale of murder, but rather an examination of fear in the human soul." And Mr. X is a delight for H.P. Lovecraft fans, as this clever novel plays games with the classic Lovecraftian myth. According to a Washington Post critic, Lost Boy Lost Girl, his most recent book, which is about a malevolent spirit in an abandoned house in Milwaukee, "deserves to be shelved with Borges, Hawthorne and Henry James."

Indeed, Peter Straub now creates literate, disturbing, psychological novels, which are also horror novels, with style and originality.

Selected Bibliography:
Ghost Story, Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1979
Floating Dragon, Putnam, 1983
Koko, Dutton, 1988
Mystery, Dutton, 1991
The Throat, Dutton, 1993
The Hellfire Club, Random House, 1996
Mr. X, Random House, 1999
Lost Boy Lost Girl, Random House, 2003