Judy Blume was born on February 12, 1938 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, United States, is an American author. She has written many novels for children and young adults which have exceeded sales of 80 million and been translated into 31 languages.
Blume’s novels for teenagers were among the first to tackle such controversial matters as racism (Iggie’s House), menstruation (Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.), divorce (It’s Not the End of the World, Just As Long As We’re Together), bullying (Blubber), masturbation (Deenie; Then Again, Maybe I Won’t) and teen sex (Forever), and as such have been the source of controversy over the appropriateness of such topics for her middle school audience.
A lifelong avid reader, Blume first began writing when her children were attending preschool, and published her first book, The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo, in 1969. The decade that followed proved to be her most prolific, with 13 more books being published, including many of her most well-known titles, such as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. (1970), Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972), Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great (1972), and Blubber (1974).
After publishing novels for young children and teens, Blume tackled another genre—adult reality and death. Her novels Wifey and Smart Women shot to the top of The New York Times best-seller list. Wifey has become a bestseller, with over 4 million copies sold to date. Her latest and third adult novel Summer Sisters (1998) was widely praised and has sold more than 3 million copies. It spent 5 months on The New York Times Bestseller list, with the hardcover reaching #3 and the paperback spent several weeks at #1.
Blume has won more than ninety literary awards. In 2004, she was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In 1996 the American Library Association selected Blume for its Margaret A. Edwards Award for her contributions to young adult literature. Blume received the Library of Congress Living Legends award in the “Writers and Artists” category in April 2000 for her significant contributions to America’s cultural heritage. Blume has also had several books to appear on the list of top all-time bestselling children’s books. Some of her books have become made for television movies, but she has had little success here.
Blume is also an advocate for teachers reading aloud to their students. She gets an uncountable amount of mail from students and adults whose teachers read aloud to them. Blume herself has specific memories of being read aloud to by her teachers. Blume believes that if teachers would take the time to introduce good books to students, perhaps there would not be as many reluctant readers.
Though light in tone, many of Judy Blume’s books deal with difficult issues for children, including questioning the existence of God, friendship, religion, divorce, body image, and sexuality. However, Blume states that she does not set out to tackle these issues when writing. She begins with a character, or sometimes a character and a situation.
On August 15, 1959, she married Johnny Blume, whom she had met while a student at New York University; the wedding was held in the summer of her sophomore year of college. He later worked as a lawyer, while she briefly supported her family as a homemaker before pursuing teaching and writing. The Blumes had two children: Randy Lee, an airline pilot (born 1961), and Lawrence Andrew, a filmmaker (born 1963). The couple separated in 1975 and were legally divorced by 1976. Blume would later describe the marriage as “suffocating”.
Shortly after her separation, a mutual friend introduced Blume to Thomas A. Kitchens, a physicist. The couple married in 1975, and Kitchens moved them to New Mexico for his work. They divorced in 1978. She later spoke up about their split: “It was a disaster, a total disaster. After a couple years, I got out. I cried every day. Anyone who thinks my life is cupcakes is all wrong.”
She met George Cooper, an author of mystery novels, at a tea room in Vancouver. Blume and Cooper were married in 1987. Cooper has an only child from a previous marriage, a daughter named Amanda. They currently reside in New York City.