Richard Atwater was born on December 29, 1892 in Chicago, and educated at the University of Chicago, where he later taught Greek. In addition to teaching, Atwater worked as a book editor and newspaper columnist. Atwater wrote several books in his lifetime, including Doris and the Trolls and Rickety Rimes of Riq. However, it was his children's book Mr. Popper's Penguins that made him famous. In this story a house painter receives several penguins as a present. He keeps them in his refrigerator and the trouble they create is chronicled in the story. In 1934, Atwater suffered a stroke. Atwater's wife revised and completed the manuscript. Richard Atwater died on August 21, 1948. Mr. Popper's Penguins won the Newberry Medal in 1939 and the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958.