Walter Dean Myers was an American writer, best known for writing children’s and young adult books. There are lots of interesting facts about the prolific writer.
Walter Dean Myers was born on August 12, 1937
Walter Dean Myers was born on August 12, 1937, in Martinsburg, West Virginia, however, he grew up on 121st and Morningside in Harlem, New York City. His biological mother, Mary Dolly Myers, died when he was 18 months old. At the age of three, he started living with Florence Dean, his stepmother, and her husband, Herbert Dean. He was born Walter Milton Myers.
He began to answer Dean much later in life
Named Walter Milton Myers at birth, the legendary writer replaced ‘Milton’ with ‘Dean’. This, he did in honor of his foster parents, Florence and Herbert Dean. They took him in when he was three and raised him. This was one of his way of showing his appreciation.
Growing up, Myers had a speech impediment
As a child, he had a speech impediment and was teased for it. He often lashed out at those who teased him for that. He was encouraged by his teacher to write in order to express himself better. Myers wrote poems, short stories and also read a lot. Sensing that he might drop out of school, his high school teacher, Bonnie, encouraged him to write even more. Eventually, he dropped out of school. On his 17th birthday, he joined the army. He served in the US Army from 1957 to 1960.
Life after the Army
After serving in the US Army, Myers worked at the Harlem Post Office and the New York State Department of Labor. He also participated in classes at City College of New York, Columbia University, and SUNY Empire College. He graduated in 1984.
Career as a writer
Myers started writing as a child. He was encouraged by his teacher to do so in order to express himself better since he had a speech impediment and was often teased for that. Discovering James Baldwin’s ‘Sonny Blues’ turned things around for him, because after that, he started writing stories from his own experiences. This resulted in many of his masterpieces.
With John Oliver Killen’s encouragement, he published his first poem in the Delta Review in 1962. He wrote a lot of children’s and young adult books. He dabbled into sports, fantasy, adventure, science fiction, African and African American history, biography, mystery, and so on. Walter Dean Myers was simply versatile.
He also won so many awards. Notable amongst them are: American Library Association Award (1994), Hans Christian Andersen Award (2010), Margaret A. Edwards Award (1994). Margaret A. Edwards Award is one that recognizes one writer and a specific work of art for its immense contribution to young adult Literature. Here are some of Walter Dean Myers’ works that won him this award: ‘Myers Hoops’ (1983), ‘Motown and Didi’ (1985), ‘Fallen Angels‘ (1988), and ‘Scorpions’ (1988). He was also an inaugural winner for ‘Monster’, published by HarperCollins in 1999 as the year’s best book for teens based on merit.
Myers married twice
Walter Dean Myers married twice at separate times. First, to Joyce Elen Myers from 1960 to 1970 and then to Constance Brendel from 1973 to 2014. He had four children. A good number of Walter Dean Myers’ books were illustrated by his son, Christopher Myers.
Fish was his favorite dish
Walter Dean Myers was a popular writer, he did a good job keeping life outside of his career private. Apart from what he wanted people to know like most of the facts already mentioned (for instance, that fish was his favorite dish and his favorite holiday destination was London, England) not much is known about him.
Walter Dean Myers died at the age of 76 at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, New York, United States. He died after a brief illness. He had over seventy books to his name, most of them children’s and young adult books.
At what age did Walter Dean Myers join the army?
Walter Dean Myers joined the US Army at the age of 17. In fact, it was on his 17th birthday that he joined the army. He dropped out of school to do this. He served in the army for three years, from 1957 to 1960. After that, he became depressed and had to go back to writing.
When asked to state two fun facts about Walter Dean Myers, what comes to mind?
Apart from what Myers wanted people to know, only little else is known about him. So, right now, if I am asked to state two fun facts about him, I would say: his favorite dish was fish and his favorite holiday destination was London, England.
Where did Walter Dean Myers grow up?
Even though Walter Dean Myers was born in Martinsburg, West Virginia, he grew up in Harlem, New York City. He was raised by his foster parents Florence and Herbert Dean. A lot of his stories are also set in Harlem.
How many children did Walter Dean Myers have?
Walter Dean Myers was a father of four. His son, Christopher Myers illustrated some of his books. ‘Monster’ (1999) is one of those books. Not much is known about his other children.