Scott O’Dell was originally born Odell Gabriel Scott on May 23, 1898 in Los Angeles, California. His father, Bennett Mason Scott, worked for the Union Pacific Railroad and the family frequently moved throughout Southern California during his childhood. After graduating high school, he enlisted in the Army during World War I. He then attended several universities including Occidental College, University of Wisconsin, and Stanford University. He worked for Paramount Pictures as a cameraman on the 1925 version of Ben Hur, shot in Rome, Italy. He stayed in Rome to study writing at the University of Rome La Sapienza. Upon returning to California he worked for the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Mirror. He released his first novel for adults, Woman of Spain: A Story of Old California, in 1934. He finished two more novels and then became the book editor for the Los Angeles Daily News. A typesetter at the paper mistakenly transposed his name and O’Dell liked it so much that he had it legally changed.
He was convinced by his friend, the children’s author Maud Lovelace, to turn his manuscript about the legend of “The Lost Woman of San Nicholas Island” into a book for children. Published in 1960, Island of the Blue Dolphins became a worldwide success and went on to win the Newbery Medal and was adapted into a motion picture. He continued writing historical fiction for children, winning the Newbery Honor Book for his next two novels, The King’s Fifth (1966) and The Black Pearl (1967). In 1981, he established the Scott O’Dell Historical Fiction Award, which recognized outstanding works in historical fiction. He wrote twenty-five novels for children before passing away on October 15, 1989.
Children’s Literature Review, vol. 126.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 52.
Something About the Author, vol. 60.
"Scott O’Dell," Wikipedia, accessed December 19, 2011, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_O'Dell.
This collection consists of a typescript for the book Island of the Blue Dolphins and related award ceremony materials.
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