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About the Author
Vera B. Williams is the creator of many distinguished books and was the U.S. Illustrator Nominee for the 2004 Hans Christian Andersen Award. She lives in New York City.
In Her Own Words...
Throughout my childhood I was encouraged to make pictures, tell stories, act, and dance—all of this at a heaven in our New York City neighborhood called the Bronx House.
On Saturdays I painted with a crusading art director, Florence Cane. In her book The Growth of the Child Through Art, I appear under the name Linda. I was sixteen when the book appeared and embarrassed by it. But at age nine I had been totally proud when a painting of mine was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art and I was later shown in the Movietone News explaining to Eleanor Roosevelt its Yiddish title, Yentas.
In 1945 I went to Black Mountain College in North Carolina, a unique educational community. I graduated in 1949 in graphic art, which I studied with Josef Albers. Along the way I planted corn, made butter, worked on the printing press, and helped to build the house in which I lived with Paul Williams, a fellow student I married there.
I wanted that connection of art and community to continue. And it did at the Gate Hill Cooperative, a community we built with other Black Mountain people—a poet, musicians, and potters. I lived and worked there from 1953-1970 (after which I moved to Canada). My children (Sarah, Jenny, and Merce) grew up there. For them, we branched out into a school, part of the Surnmerhill movement. The gingerbread houses that led to my first book for Greenwillow I first made in sticky variety at our school. I have always liked to teach, and have taught art, cooking, writing, and nature study, for nursery age on.
At forty-six, no longer married, living in a houseboat on the bay at Vancouver, British Columbia, I did my first book. But before that could happen, the fates decreed a stint of cooking and running a bakery at a small school in the Ontario countryside. My love affair with Canada included also a 500-mile trip on the Yukon River. Many of those adventures I put in Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe.
I also write and draw for adults-short stories, leaflets, and posters. As a lover of children, I try to do what I can to help save their earth from nuclear disaster. This pursuit, too, has added its excitement to my biography, including, in 1981, a month's stay in the federal penitentiary in Alderson, West Virginia (an outcome of a women's peaceful blockade of the Pentagon). Perhaps this experience will some day appear in one of my books. So far I've found children's books a wonderfully accommodating medium where any of my various activities might pop up.
"I suspect many readers will talk about the consequences of unspoken generational trauma in These Ghosts Are Family, but I'm most amazed by the deft use of characterization, place and embodiment here. This book is a master class in writing home as a collection of odd spirits and a mobile metaphor."-- "Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division"
"Card's relentlessly inventive debut is a thrilling exploration of family, memory, and which pasts we choose to haunt us."-- "Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman"