When Dorothy Straight of Washington, D.C. was 4 years old, she wrote a story for her grandmother entitled “How the World Began.” Her parents thought it was good enough to be published. They were right. Dorothy's book was published in 1964, making her the youngest published author.
Hilda Conkling was 4 years old when she started writing poetry. She wrote poems daily and read them to her mother every evening. Her mother, a teacher at Smith College in Massachusetts, began sending the poems to magazines when Hilda was 8. In 1920, when she was 10, Hilda had one hundred poems collected and published in Poems by a Little Girl.
Phillis Wheatley was sold as a slave to a Boston family when she was 6 years old. She was taught to read, and by the time she was 13 she had written her first poem. When she was 15 she was reading Latin. She was the first black woman to publish poetry in the U.S. Her book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, was published in 1773.
Edna St. Vincent Millay began composing verse almost as soon as she could write. At first she copied down the poems she read in books. Soon she decided it would be more interesting to write her own. She went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923.
Anne Frank started writing in her diary on her thirteenth birthday while she and her family were in hiding from the Nazis. Anne kept up her diary while living in secrecy. A year later the family hiding place was betrayed and they were all sent to concentration camps. Anne died of typhus while imprisoned. The only one to survive was her father. He returned to their hideout, where he found Anne's diary. He had it published in 1947. To date, more than 13 million copies have been printed in more than 50 languages.
Like Anne Frank, 13-year-old Zlata Filipovic of Sarajevo kept a wartime diary. When she was 11, Zlata started her diary. Her first entries told of school work and birthday parties. When Serbian troops invaded her country, the entries changed to stories of bombings and death. Zlata's diary was bought by a French publishing company who helped her family escape from Sarajevo. In the spring of 1994, Zlata's Diary was published in the U.S.
Louisa May Alcott was so determined to help her family financially that she taught school, sewed, and hired out as a houseworker when she was a teenager. Her passion was writing and at 18 she sold her first poem, “Sunlight.” In the same year (1851) she began to sell her short stories for five dollars apiece. She continued to support her family with her writing. She is most famous for her novel Little Women.
American poet Gwendolyn Brooks's first collection of verse, American Childhood was written when she was 13 years old. In 1950 she became the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize. She won for Annie Allen, which includes a poem describing the experiences of a black girl growing up in America.
We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
Die soon.Gwendolyn Brooks,
We Real Cool from The Bean Eaters
Janis Ian was 13 when she wrote “Society's Child,” a song about interracial love. The words and melody came to her while she was in school waiting to see her guidance counselor. Her recording of that song sold in the millions. She was on the road performing when she was 16. By the time she was 24, she had a Grammy for another of her songs, “At Seventeen,” which tells of teenage loneliness.
Emma Lazarus was a sickly child who spent most of her childhood at home alone. She was an avid reader and at 14 years old she began to write poetry. Her first book was published when she was 17. She is best known for her poem “The New Colossus” which is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.
New Moon: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams is a bimonthly magazine put out by 25 girls between ages 8 and 14. The girls live in Duluth, Minnesota, where they write articles, draw pictures, and edit stories submitted by other girls from around the world. For a subscription, write to: New Moon, P.O. Box 3587, Duluth, Minnesota 55803.