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Barbara Brenner Papers

Identifier: DG0115

Scope and Contents

The collection contains manuscripts, typescripts, galleys, proofs, dummies, blues and dust jackets for 17 titles. The materials are arranged alphabetically by title. Within each title the materials are arranged in the probable order in which they were created. The correspondence is arranged chronologically by title with the exception of correspondence with the de Grummond collection. The titles in the collection can be separated into two groups, fiction and non-fiction.

There are five non-fiction books in the collection: Bodies (1973), Beware! These Animals Are Poison (1979), If You Were an Ant (1973), Have You Ever Heard of a Kangaroo Bird? (1965) and Two Orphan Cubs (1989). There are typescripts, correspondence and research notes for all of these titles. There are galleys for Beware! These Animals Are Poison, If You Were an Ant, and Two Orphan Cubs. If You Were an Ant was illustrated by Brenner's husband, Fred Brenner. There is a dummy, proofs, and a dust jacket for this title as well. Two Orphan Cubs was co-authored by Brenner's editor and friend May Garelick, who saw two bears while visiting her and suggested they write a book together. After numerous rejections and rewrites, the book was finally published by Walker. Unfortunately, Garelick died shortly after it was published. There are also galleys, sketches, a dummy and a press sheet for this title.

There are typescripts and correspondence for the twelve fiction books in the collection: The Flying Patchwork Quilt, A Snake-Lover's Diary (1970), A Year in the Life of Rosie Bernard (1971), Hemi, a Mule (1973), Baltimore Orioles (1974), Cunningham's Rooster (1975), Lizard Tails and Cactus Spines (1975), On the Frontier with Mr. Audubon (1977), Our Class Presents Ostrich Feathers, Mystery of the Disappearing Dogs (1982), The Gorilla Signs Love (1984), and If You Were There in 1776 (1994).

Many of Brenner's books are based on her own experiences or those of her family and friends. Brenner often told her children stories about her childhood in Brooklyn. Her children liked the stories so much, she decided to write the stories down. The stories turned into A Year in the Life of Rosie Bernard, which she said might be classified as a "fictionalized autobiography." There are also galleys, proofs, and layouts for this title. A Snake-Lover's Diary, one of Brenner's favorites, was her first ALA Notable book. The boy in the story loves snakes and was inspired by her son Mark, but the photographs in the book are of her younger son Carl. There are also manuscript notes, galleys, proofs, and a press sheet for this title.

In 1975, Cunningham's Rooster was published. The story is about Brenner's friend, Arthur Cunningham, her son's piano teacher, who had written the music for Ostrich Feathers. In addition to typescripts and correspondence, there are also manuscript notes and corrections for this title. The Mystery of the Disappearing Dogs was Brenner's first mystery book and was inspired by her second dog. There is also a galley, a bound uncorrected proof, and a dust jacket for this title.

The Flying Patchwork Quilt is the story of a little girl named Ellen who learns to fly on a quilt. After witnessing both of her boys trying to "become airborne," she realized it was an experience that many children desire. Her idea for the quilt came from a patchwork quilt she had bought and her children had loved. Her husband Fred also illustrated this book. There is also a galley, illustration proofs, press sheets, and a proof for the dust jacket for this title. On the Frontier With Mr. Audubon is a fictional biography of a boy who traveled with Audubon down the Mississippi River. Brenner stated that her love for the country inspired this book and many of her other books about nature. The book was named as an Outstanding Science Book by the Children's Book Council and the National Science Teacher's Association in 1977. That same year it was selected as one of School Library Journal's Best of the Best Books. In addition to typescripts and correspondence, there are also manuscript notes for this title.


  • 1965-1997

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

Barbara Johnes Brenner was born on June 26, 1925 in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother died when she was a year old and she went to live with her maternal grandparents in Rockland County, New York. Her father would visit on weekends and read to her. When the Depression began, she returned to Brooklyn to live with her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins together in a three story house. At eight, she moved to New Jersey to live with her father and new step mother and baby brother. It was with her brother at bedtime that she began telling stories. In high school, she wrote "Love Congas All," a play that she directed and starred in for a senior production. After high school, she got a job as a messenger for Prudential Life Insurance Company and was later transferred to the house magazine department. She attended Seton Hall from 1942 to 1943, Rutgers from 1944 to 1946, and New York University from 1953 to 1954.

After working as an artist's agent for her husband, illustrator Fred Brenner, she decided to do some writing. Her first book, Somebody's Slippers, Somebody's Shoes, was published in 1957 and was based on her son's love for a pair of bunny slippers. Her husband Fred also illustrated some of her books including The Flying Patchwork Quilt (1965), If You Were an Ant (1973), and Summer of the Houseboat (1968).

Brenner wrote a musical called "Ostrich Feathers" with music by Arthur Cunningham. The play first appeared as an off Broadway play, starring a young boy named Morgan Freeman, who Brenner said "seemed particularly talented." The play was later published in 1978 as Our Class Presents Ostrich Feathers: A Play in Two Acts. Since that time Brenner has written both fiction and non-fiction books for children, been a contributor to Cricket, Good Housekeeping, and Newsweek, and written the narration for "Noah's Ark," a video narrated by James Earl Jones. She was a writer and editor for the Bank Street College of Education. She has also written books for adults, including Love and Discipline (1983) and The Preschool Handbook (1990).

In 1986, Brenner was given the Pennsylvania School Librarian Association’s Outstanding Pennsylvania Author Award. Voices: Poetry and Art from around the World, a volume of poetry that Brenner edited, was named an ALA Notable Book for Children and recieved an ALA Best Book for Young Adults award.


Contemporary Authors, vol. 31NR, pp. 47-48.

Something About the Author, vol 1, pp. 34-36.

Something About the Author, Autobiography Series, vol 14, pp. 21-35.


4.60 Cubic Feet (14 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Material was donated by Barbara Brenner from 1971 to 1997.

Related Materials

The Anne Rockwell Papers (DG0828); The May Garelick Papers (DG0363)
Barbara Brenner Papers
In Progress
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the de Grummond Childrens Literature Collection Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001