OBIT

04.23.13

Author E.L. Konigsburg Dies at 83

She is the author of the 1967 classic children’s book From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

Can you name what novel begins this way: “To my lawyer, Saxonberg.” If you guessed From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, you’re one of the many, many who read the children’s classic. The book launched the career of its author, E.L. Konigsburg, who died Friday. She was 83. Konigsburg was the only American author to win the prestigious Newberry Medal for children’s literature the same year that she also was the runner-up for a different novel—and she went on to win another Newberry Medal in 1977 for The View from Saturday. Koigsburg, who also illustrated her books, championed childhood as a time when “most of us are outsiders.” She told Scholastic in an interview that children “want two contradictory things. They want to be the same as everyone else, and they want to be different from everyone else. They want acceptance for both.” Born in New York in 1930, Konigsburg grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and said her parents never imagined she would go to college, since they could never afford it—although she eventually went on to graduate from Carnegie Institute of Technology.  She began writing when her children were in school, and her first book was published in 1967.