Virginia Esther Hamilton (March 12, 1936 – February 19, 2002) grew up in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She was a multi-award winning children’s book author, including the U.S. National Book Award and the Newbery Medal–the first African-American to do so– in 1975.
In 2010, The American Library Association established in 2010 the Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Award to recognize an African American author, illustrator, or author/illustrator for a body of his or her published books for children and/or young adults who has made a significant and lasting literary contribution.
In her lifetime, Virginia wrote and published 41 books in multiple genres that spanned picture books and folktales, mysteries and science fiction, realistic novels and biography, such as Zeely; The House of Dies Drear; Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush; and The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales . Woven into her books is a deep concern with memory, tradition, and generational legacy, especially as they helped define the lives of African Americans. Virginia described her work as “Liberation Literature.”
After her untimely death from breast cancer on Feb. 19, 2002, three of her books have been published posthumously: Time Pieces, Bruh Rabbit and the Tar Baby Girl, and Wee Winnie Witch’s Skinny.
Wee Winnie Witch’s Skinny draws on African-American folklore for this scary tale of bewitchment and fright, where young James Lee discovers his Uncle Big Anthony has been cursed by a Wee Winnie Witch, who rides him like a broom across the night sky. But Mamma Granny knows just what to do.
For more information on Virginia and her books, visit her legacy website.