Patricia C. McKissack, 1944 - Patricia C. McKissack was born on August 9, 1944 in Smyrna Tennessee. After her parents divorced, she went to live with her grandparents in St. Louis. Years later, she moved back to Tennessee with the rest of her family and made the reacquaintance of her old friend Frederick. They both attended Tennessee State University, where Patricia graduated from in 1964 with a Bachelor's Degree of Arts in English. She went on to receive her Master's in Early Childhood Literature and Media Programming at Webster University in St Louis in 1975. After college, Patricia worked as a junior high English teacher and a children's book editor, but she didn't truly enjoy either job. One day her husband asked her what she'd really like to do and she said, "Write books." They have been collaborating together on books ever since the 80's, writing over a hundred books. Frederick does the research and Pat does the writing, with subjects ranging from racism, the Civil War, slavery and biographies of famous African Americans. Pat writes fiction on her own. Patricia has won many awards, including the 1993 Newberry Honor Book Award for "The Dark Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural," the 1993 Coretta Scott King Award, the Caldecott Medal for "Mirandy and Brother Wind" and the 1998 Virginia Hamilton Award for making a contribution to the field of multicultural literature for children and adolescents, as well as the NAACP Image Award for "Sojourner Truth."
Frederick L. McKissack was born on August 12, 1939, in Nashville, Tennessee. He received a degree in civil engineering from Tennessee State University. He was a civil engineer and a construction worker before he and his wife decided to become full-time writers. Since the 1980's, he and his wife Patricia C. McKissack have written over 100 books together. Most of their titles are biographies with a strong focus on African-American themes for young readers. Their early 1990s biography series, Great African Americans, included volumes on Frederick Douglass, Marian Anderson, and Paul Robeson. Over their 30 years of writing together, the couple won many awards including the C.S. Lewis Silver Medal, the Coretta Scott King Award for Christmas in the Big House, Christmas in the Quarters, the Jane Addams Peace Award, and the 1998 Virginia Hamilton Award for making a contribution to the field of multicultural literature for children and adolescents, as well as the NAACP Image Award for Sojourner Truth: Ain't I a Woman?. He died of congestive heart failure on April 28, 2013 at the age of 73.