Biography of Emily Cheney Neville
At the age of 42, when her youngest child finally went off to school, a housewife named Emily decided to dust off her Remington and get back to writing. This was in 1963, when personal computers didn’t exist. Her five children had taken all her time for the past decade or so, and she was eager to get started on the next phase of her life.
Emily had been born just after Christmas of 1919 in Manchester, Connecticut. She grew up in a large, close-knit family and went to school exclusively with her cousins until she was eleven years old. In an era without television or radio, she did a lot of reading and enjoyed trying to write her own stories. She says “they were the usual kind of childhood and school girl efforts, on up to the high school and college literary magazine and newspaper reports”.
After graduation from Bryn Mawr, she moved to New York and went to work for the New York Daily Mirror as a reporter. After a brief career there, she married co-worker Glenn Neville and left the paper to raise their five children.
With all the children off at school, she began to think of writing a book for young people. She thought there were too many “boy-and-dog” stories, so she decided to try a “boy-and-cat” tale. The result was It’s Like This, Cat, aimed at 10 to 14-year old boys. The book was such a success it won the John Newbery Medal the following year. A reviewer for the Christian Science Monitor commented “Here’s a nice change from those books for boys that are set in an idyllic countryside hardly known to many of them. The conversation is modern teen but never phony, and the happenings in Dave’s life are not adventures but interesting and entertaining vignettes of city life”.
Emily Cheney Neville passed away in December 1997, just two weeks shy of her 78th birthday. In addition to her family, she left a legacy of children’s literature that includes a dozen popular books and several school readers.
Some Books by Emily Cheney Neville
The China Year
Garden of Broken Glass
Laura and Graylady
A Look at Our Town
The Seventeen-Street Gang
Traveler From a Small Kingdom
Note: this list was compiled from several sources and may not be complete