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Beverly Cleary Biography

Updated on October 11, 2014

Author Beverly Cleary

The author Beverly Cleary is a well-known children's author. Her books include Beezus and Ramona, Henry Huggins, and Ralph S. Mouse. In all Beverly Cleary wrote nearly 40 children's books that are as well loved today as when she first started writing them more than 60 years ago.

Beverly Cleary also wrote two memoirs, A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet. These true stories are even better than her children's books!

Photo of a beat up (well loved) Beverly Cleary book. Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

Clarence and Beverly Cleary at the Ramona statue in Grant Park, Portland, Oregon.
Clarence and Beverly Cleary at the Ramona statue in Grant Park, Portland, Oregon.

Beverly Bunn

A Girl from Yamhill

Beverly Atlee Bunn was born in 1916 in McMinnville, Oregon, and was raised in Yamhill, Oregon, until she was school age. She was an only child, and her family moved to Portland, Oregon, where Beverly attended school.

She lived in Northeast Portland and played on the streets where her characters Henry, Beezus, and Ramona played. She even named the streets in those books after the real Portland streets where she lived, like Klickitat Street.

Beverly left Portland to attend college in California. She graduated in 1938 from the University of California, Berkeley. After graduation, she went to library school and became a librarian. She worked in the Portland library system until she and her husband moved to California.

In 1940, she married Clarence Cleary. They had twins, a son and daughter. In 1950, her first novel, Henry Huggins was published. Beverly Cleary now lives in Carmel, California.

Source: Beverly Cleary's Web Site

Photo of the Cleary's with the Ramona statue in Grant Park, Portland, Oregon.

Photo Credit: Multnomah County Library

Beverly Cleary Memoirs

Two Autobiographies by Beverly Cleary

I've read both of Beverly Cleary's memoirs: A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet. (I love reading memoirs / autobiographies by writers I admire.) I found these books to be fascinating and revealing.

If you get a chance to read them, you'll be surprised at her own family's dynamics, her story of going to college during the Depression and going on to graduate school, which was almost unheard of, and more.

"I had a very wise mother.

She always kept books that

were my grade level in our house."

~ Beverly Cleary

The Mother of Twins - Wrote About Twins in Mitch and Amy

Beverly Cleary and her husband had two children--twins! When Beverly Cleary wrote Mitch and Amy, a children's book about siblings who are twins, she probably drew on the experience of parenting twins.

"Children should learn that reading is pleasure, not just something that teachers make you do in school."

~ Beverly Cleary

Grant Park in Portland, Oregon - Home to the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden

The Beverly Cleary sculpture garden is located just south of the playground in Grant Park on N.E. 33rd Ave., between Knott Street and Broadway. To see the statues of Henry, Ribsy, and Ramona with fountains, you have to enter the park. The Portland Parks Department turns on the water when weather and conditions permit.

A markerGrant Park, home to a sculpture garden featuring Henry Huggins, Ramona Quimby, Ribsy. -
Northeast 35th Avenue at Knott Portland, Oregon 97212
get directions

Henry Huggins - and Ribsy!

Henry Huggins was Beverly Cleary's first book. Henry is my second favorite Beverly Cleary character.

Ramona is My Favorite Beverly Cleary Character

I've been a big fan of Romana Quimby for decades. I can totally relate to being the little sister, misunderstanding why things are the way they are, and being a pest.

"People are usually surprised to hear this, but I don't really read children's books."

~ Beverly Cleary

Do You Have a Favorite Book Character by author Beverly Cleary?

Beverly Cleary made up such memorable characters in her books.

Which character is your favorite?

See results

"I read my books aloud

before they were published."

~ Beverly Cleary

Awards for Beverly Cleary Books

Beverly Cleary was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1984 for Dear Mr. Henshaw. Her books Ramona and Her Father in 1978 and Ramona Quimby, Age 8 in 1982 were named Newbery Honor Books.

She also was named the Library of Congress Living Legend for 2000, and she won the National Medal of Arts from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2003.

Share your memories of Beverly Cleary's books.

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    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Thanks for the wonderful review here - obviously you were very thorough. Blessed!

    • gypsykitschpres profile image

      gypsykitschpres 5 years ago

      I loved her as a child and I read them to my kids when they were little and they loved her too. Thanks for a great lens.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      When I was a kid I loved Ramona! Great lens.

    • Lynne-Modranski profile image

      Lynne Modranski 5 years ago from Ohio

      Love her books. My Grandkids are reading them now. I thought it was kind of funny that Beverly Bunn married Clarence Cleary - that sounds more like a story than real life!

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 6 years ago

      Sure looks like cute books but I've never read them. If I had kids, I would though (I doubt the dogs would be appreciative....)

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 6 years ago

      I read every one of them I could find at the library when i was in third grade! My fifth graders love reading her books even today!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      @Virginia Allain: I agree, Virginia. I loved her books. I'll link your Ramona and Beezus movie lens here.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 6 years ago from Central Florida

      Beverly Cleary should be available to every child. Such fun, wholesome books! I was glad they made Ramona and Beezus into a movie so more kids would discover Beverly Cleary. I made a lens about the movie when was first released.