Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Lewistown, Mifflin County
Writing is something that Lewistown-born Meyer has been doing for most of her life, especially children's books about female historical figures like Queen Elizabeth I.
Born in Lewistown, Pennsylvania on June 8, 1935, Carolyn Meyer graduated from Bucknell University in 1962 and has published approximately 50 literary books. She has also won numerous awards for her children’s books and received the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association’s Outstanding Author Award.
Carolyn Meyer was born June 8, 1935, in Lewistown, Pennsylvania in Mifflin County. She married Joseph Smrcka on June 4, 1960, with whom she had three kids and later divorced. Meyer attended Bucknell University in Lewistown, Pennsylvania in 1957. Upon graduation, Meyer held several jobs. She worked as a secretary in the late 1950s and later began a career as a freelance writer in 1963 for the Institute of Children’s Literature. In 1973, she made her way back to her undergraduate institution of Bucknell University where she taught. Meyer was an Alpha Lambda lecturer and a guest lecturer in children’s literature between 1976-1979 where she presented at writing workshops in high school and college universities.
Meyer had always loved to read and write. After she married and had children, her family moved to the suburbs of Pennsylvania and stories began to pour out of her. Her first published book, in 1969, was a how-to-sew book for young girls, Miss Patch’s Learn- to-Sew Book. Then, in 1990, Carolyn and her family moved out of Lewistown, Pennsylvania, to a small town in Texas. It was here that Carolyn met with editors of Arch-Editor publishing and began her professional writing career.
In her early writing career, Carolyn Meyer wrote many how-to craft books for young adults. Shortly after, she began writing about different cultures such as the Amish, African Americans, the Irish and Europeans. Her interest in Europe resulted in her “royal series” books, which illustrate people such as Princess Elizabeth and Marie Antoinette. Meyer said that much of her inspiration came from personal life experiences or those experiences of her own children.
Growing up in Lewistown, Meyer and her family were exposed to the Amish people’s way of living without technology and luxuries of most people in modern society. She felt it was her duty to inform people about their way of life, since she herself knew very little. As a result, Meyer wrote, Amish People: Plain Living in a Complex World (1976), which The New York Times called, “an excellent introduction to Amishism.” Soon after, two more cultural books came her way thanks to her publishers at Arch-Editor. The first was Voices of South Africa: Growing Up in a Troubled Land (1986). For this book, Meyer traveled to South Africa where she interviewed many people and gained more insight into racial tensions between the oppressed black majority and the ruling white minority in South Africa. The second book entailed Meyer traveling to Ireland. This book, Voices of Northern Ireland: Growing Up in a Troubled Land (1987), is the story of her journey to Northern Ireland and includes interviews she conducted with Protestants and Catholics.
Another book that has received much praise is C.C. Poindexter(1982), the story of an awkward teenager who is abnormally tall and keeps on growing. C.C. also is struggling with her parent’s recent divorce. The book earned Meyer recognition for the “Best Books for Young Adults” from the American Library Association. Meyer’s “royal series” began in 1999 with the publishing of, Mary, Bloody Mary, which tells the tale of King Henry VIII’s oldest daughter. Later works in this series include Beware Princess Elizabeth (2001), Doomed Queen Anne (2002), and Isabel, Jewel of Castilla (2002).
One review, from the School Library Journal, raves about Meyer’s work in Beware Princess Elizabeth. The review states, “Because the story is told in first person, readers have a sense of being with Elizabeth and feeling the uncertainty, apprehension, and determination she feels. The author does not pull any punches when it comes to telling about Elizabeth's feelings for Tom Seymour, her religious convictions, or the bloodshed caused at the behest of Queen Mary.”
In 2003, Meyer published her first adult novel, Brown Eyes Blue, about multiple generations of women from the same family who conceal secrets from one another. Some of her later works in the royal series include, Kristina, the Girl King, Sweden, 1638 (2003), Patience, Princess Catherine (2004), Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess (2006), and Loving Will Shakespeare (2006).
Meyer has contributed articles and book reviews to numerous periodicals including; Family Circle, Redbook, Golf Digest, Los Angeles-Times (1989-1990), Publisher’s Weekly, and Americana. From 1967-1972, Meyer was the author of columns such as “Cheers and Jeers” and “Chiefly for Children” for McCall’s magazine. Meyer is a member of the Children’s Book Council, which features a biography of her on their website. She is a recipient of the Northwest Librarians Association Reader’s Choice Award and is a member of the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association. In 1990, Meyer received their Outstanding Author Award.
In 1987, Meyer met and married author and educator, E.A. Mares. Currently, Carolyn Meyer and her husband live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she writes and makes appearances at schools to talk to children about her work and accomplishments. To date, Meyer has published approximately 50 books for young readers, both fiction and non-fiction.
Miss Patch's Learn-To-Sew Book. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1969.
Amish People: Plain Living in a Complex World. New York: Atheneum, 1976.
C.C. Poindexter. New York: Atheneum, 1978.
Voices of Northern Ireland: Growing Up in a Troubled Land. San Diego: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1987.
Mary, Bloody Mary. San Diego: Harcourt Brace, 1999.
The Royal Diaries: Anastasia the Last Grand Dutchess. New York: Scholastic, 2000.
Beware Princess Elizabeth. San Diego: Harcourt, 2001.
Doomed Queen Anne. San Diego: Harcourt, 2002.
Brown Eyes Blue. Bridgehampton, NY: Bridge Works Publishing, 2003.
Kristina, the Girl King, Sweden, 1638. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 2003.
Patience Princess Catherine: A Young Royals Book. Orlando: Harcourt, 2004.