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Charlotte Zolotow Papers

Identifier: DG1088

Scope and Contents

The collection contains a 1975 photograph of Zolotow and materials pertaining to eight books published between 1966 and 1983. The titles are arranged in alphabetical order; for each title, the organization of the material reflects the probable order in which it was created. The material for many of the titles reflects Zolotow's dual position as editor and author.

For But Not Billy (1983), the whimsical account of a mother's countless nicknames for her new baby Billy, the collection contains an edited typescript with six magazine pictures of a baby attached, showing the various positions of the baby described in the text. There also is a photograph of an unidentified baby. In If It Weren't for You (1966), the only title in the collection written in the 1960s, an older brother speculates about what life would be like without his younger brother. For this title, the collection has an edited typescript, a proof of the text, and the uncut press sheet.

For It's Not Fair (1976), a young girl's envious description of all the things her friend Martha has, materials include two typescript drafts of the text, typescript for the jacket copy, first and second run galleys of the jacket copy and text, and three versions of the printer's proof of the verso of the title page. It is unusual to find items such as jacket copy in an author's papers. In 1974 Zolotow published one of the first children's books to deal with the subject of death, My Grandson Lew. This book, illustrated by William P'ene du Bois, explores the feelings of a six-year-old boy as he remembers his grandfather and the companionship they shared before he died. For this title, the collection has typescript of the jacket copy, first and second run galleys, and a proof of the title page and other front matter. Also included are two artist's proofs showing all illustrations extensively marked for better color reproduction, a complete paste-up dummy of the book and jacket flaps, and a final press sheet indicating changes to be made in future editions.

In contrast to most of her children's picture books is Zolotow's 1973 anthology of stories for teenagers, An Overpraised Season. For this title the collection holds final proofs of the front matter and text. In 1974 Zolotow reissued The Night Mother Was Away (1958) under the title of The Summer Night and with new illustrations by Ben Shecter. For this title, the collection includes a galley of the text and jacket copy, and a proof of the jacket copy. The Unfriendly Book (1975), also illustrated by du Bois, focuses on children's social (and unsocial) relations through the view of a girl who criticizes everyone. The collection contains a galley of the title page and proofs of the text, title page, and verso of the title page. Finally, for the book, When the Wind Stops (1975), in which a mother answers numerous questions about the end of things, the collection contains a typescript of the jacket copy, a galley of the text and jacket copy, and a proof of the dedication, text, and jacket copy.


  • 1966-1983
  • Majority of material found within [1973-1976]

Conditions Governing Access

Noncirculating; Available for research

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Reproductions can be made only if they are to be used for "private study, scholarship, or research." It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials.

Biographical / Historical

Born on June 26, 1915 in Norfolk, Virginia, Charlotte Shapiro Zolotow spent her childhood in Detroit, Brookline, Massachusetts and then New York City. Even as a child she knew she wanted to be a writer/illustrator, and as a teenager she published an essay in American Girl. She attended the University of Wisconsin on a writing scholarship from 1933 through 1936. Two years later, she married Maurice Zolotow, a writer whom she had met at Wisconsin and moved to Greenwich Village.

In 1937 she began working at Harper & Brothers as a stenographer for Ursula Nordstrom, editor of juvenile books. Zolotow cites her involvement with Nordstrom as the major influence in her writing and editing career, and her association with Harper continues into the 1990s. Zolotow was editor of Harper's children's book department from 1940 to 1944. She published her first children's picture book, The Park Book (1944), at Nordstrom's suggestion just before she left her editorial position in order to raise her children, Stephen and Ellen. Throughout the 1940s and 50s, Zolotow continued to write, basing her books on bedtime stories she told to her children, observations of their world and fantasies, and memories of her own childhood.

She returned to Harper (later Harper & Row and now HarperCollins) in 1962, as senior editor of the children's book department, a position she held until 1976, when she became vice-president and associate publisher of Junior Books. In 1982, Zolotow was named editorial consultant for the Children's Book division and vice-president and director of Charlotte Zolotow Books. She retired in 1991 to concentrate on her own writing, retaining the position of Publisher Emeritus.

Throughout four and a half decades, Zolotow skillfully combined her work as an author and editor. She wrote more than seventy books exploring the everyday experiences of young children and guided to production the works of numerous prize-winning children's authors. Best known for her children's picture books in which a universal truth is presented with artful understatement, Zolotow was most productive during the 1960s and 1970s. Many of her books were illustrated by prominent illustrators, including H. A. Rey, Roger Duvoisin, Maurice Sendak, Arnold Lobel, William P'ene du Bois, and Ben Shecter.

Zolotow's numerous awards included American Library Association's notable book citations for Do You Know What I'll Do? (1958), Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present (1962), William's Doll (1972), and My Grandson Lew (1974); Caldecott honor book citations, 1953, for The Storm Book , and 1963, Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present; Newbery honor book in 1962 for Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present; New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year (1972) and School Library Journal best book award (1972), for William's Doll; Christopher Award, 1974, for My Grandson Lew; and Redbook Best Children's Picture Book of the Year Award, 1984, for I Know a Lady. In both 1974 and 1976 Zolotow received the Harper Gold Medal Award for Editorial Excellence. She was awarded the University of Southern Mississippi Silver Medallion in 1990.

Ms. Zolotow passed away in November of 2013.


Something About the Author, vol. 35, pp. 237-245.

Twentieth-Century Authors, pp. 1081-1082.

More Junior Authors (1963), p. 235.

Publisher's Weekly, August 31, 1990, p. 9.


.60 Cubic Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Material received from Charlotte Zolotow between 1966 and 1990.

Related Materials

H.A. and Margret Rey Papers (DG0812); Joe Lasker Papers (DG0584)
Charlotte Zolotow Papers
In Progress
Julia Marks Young
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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This finding aid is the product of a grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities

Repository Details

Part of the de Grummond Childrens Literature Collection Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001