Virginia Hamilton was born March 12, 1936 and raised in Yellow Springs, OH, which is said to be a station on the Underground Railroad. Her grandfather settled in the village after escaping slavery in Virginia. Hamilton received a scholarship to Antioch College, and then went on to the Ohio State University at Columbus and the New School for Social Research in New York. She published Zeely, her first book for children, in 1967. Virginia was the first African American woman to win the Newbery Award, for M.C. Higgins the Great. Since then, she has won three Newbery Honors and three Coretta Scott King Awards, as well as an Edgar Allan Poe Award, and was the first children's author to receive a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant in 1995. She also received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal in 1995. This award honors an author or illustrator whose books have made a substantial or lasting contribution to children's literature. In 1992, Virginia was awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, which is presented every two years by the International Board on Books for Young People, in recognition of her entire body of work, and is considered the most prestigious international award in children's literature. Virginia Hamilton passed away in Dayton, Ohio on February 19, 2002 at the age of 85 from breast cancer. She had written over 35 books, some of her most popular include The People Could Fly; The Planet of Junior Brown; M.C. Higgins, the Great; Bluish; Cousins; and the Dies Drear Chronicles.