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Winter Park Library Archive

Andre Norton

Renowned Winter Park Sci/Fi author.

Author Andre Norton made Winter Park her home for over 30 years. Readers and critics alike gave her the title of the Grand Dame of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Her best known works include: The Beast Master series, the Witch World Chronicles, The Magic Books, and the Time Traders series.

Andre Norton (originally Alice Mary Norton) was born on February 17th, 1912 in Cleveland, Ohio. Ms. Norton was born into a family that had a fondness for books and valued reading highly. She began to write while in high school, and was also an editor of a literary page in the school's paper, called The Collingwood Spotlight. As such, she had to write many short stories. It was while she was still in school that she wrote her first book, Ralestone Luck.

She intended to become a history teacher and attended Flora Stone Mather College of Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve) 1930 – 1931. Due to the Great Depression, she was forced to find work in order to support the household. But she was able to take evening courses in journalism and writing that were offered by Cleveland College.

In 1932, she started working for the Cleveland Library System. Although she worked throughout the entire library system, most of her career was spent as an assistant librarian in the children's section of the Nottingham Branch Library. Despite her talents and familiarity with books, the lack of a college degree prevented her from advancement. She couldn't change jobs, however, because there weren't any employment opportunities during these hard economic times.

After she left the Cleveland Library System, she began working as a reader at Gnome Press. She eventually left that position in order to devote all of her time to writing. Her first contacts with the publishing world led her to quickly choose a literary pseudonym, and she legally changed her name to Andre Norton. It was anticipated that she would be writing for young boys, and the male name was expected to increase her marketability.

In 1934, her second book, The Prince Commands was published. Four years later, the book she had first written in high school, Ralestone Luck, was published.

In 1941, she owned and managed a bookstore and lending library called the Mystery House, which was located in Mount Ranier, Maryland. This venture was a failure. During that same time period, she also worked in the cataloguing department of the Library of the Congress, but that position was abruptly terminated by the beginning of the World War II.

In November 1966, her health issues necessitated a move to Winter Park, Florida, where she lived until 1997. During those three decades, she penned over 150 books.

In total, she was the author of over 220 books, her writing career spanning eight decades. Her books were published from 1934 to 2005. Ms Norton was the recipient of numerous honors and awards . . . not only from her contemporaries but also from various groups and associations that wanted to recognize and celebrate her achievements.

Later she moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Here, she established the High Hallack Genre Writers’ Research and Reference Library. This was a foundation intended to provided writers and scholars of popular literature (the genres of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, western, romance, gothic, and horror) a peaceful place for research, reference, and study.

She remained in Tennessee until her life ended. She died On March 17th, 2005, at the age of 93.

This article was written by former archivist, Barbara White, MLIS.