Ursula Nordstrom

Harper & Row Publishers

Biographical Statement

 from Good Reads

Ursula Nordstrom is primarily known as one of the twentieth century's great editors --- as many have remarked, "The Maxwell Perkins of children's literature." Yet besides being an editor, she was also the author of two remarkable novels, one published, The Secret Language (1972), and the second --- now lost forever --- unpublished. 

She was publisher and editor in chief of juvenile books at Harper & Row from 1940 to 1973. A collection of her correspondence was published in 1998 as Dear Genius: the Letters of Ursula Nordstrom

Nordstrom is credited with presiding over a transformation in children's literature in which morality tales written for adult approval gave way to works that instead appealed to children's imaginations and emotions.

She edited some of the milestones of children's literature, including E. B. White's Stuart Little (1945) and Charlotte's Web (1952), Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon (1947), Crockett Johnson's Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955), Syd Hoff's Danny and the Dinosaur (1958), Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are (1963), and Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974). Other authors she edited included Laura Ingalls Wilder, Margaret Wise Brown, Ruth Krauss, Crockett Johnson, Charlotte Zolotow, John Steptoe, M.E. Kerr, among others.

Nordstrom began at Harper & Row in 1936 and was promoted to editor in chief of the Department of Books for Boys and Girls in 1940. In 1960 she became Harper's first female vice president. She stepped down as publisher in 1973, but continued on as senior editor with her own imprint, Ursula Nordstrom Books, until 1979. She was succeeded by her protege, author Charlotte Zolotow, who began her career as Nordstrom's stenographer.

Ursula Nordstrom died in 1988, aged 78, from ovarian cancer. With her at the time of death was her longtime companion, Mary Griffith. (Wiki).