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Scott O'Dell (1898 - 1989)
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Scott O'Dell was born Odell Gabriel Scott, on Terminal Island in Los Angeles, California, to parents May Elizabeth Gabriel and Bennett Mason Scott. He attended multiple colleges, including Occidental College in 1919, the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1920, Stanford University in 1920-1921, and the University of Rome La Sapienza in 1925. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Air Force. Before becoming a full time writer he worked in Hollywood as a cameraman and technical director, as a book columnist for the Los Angeles Mirror, and as book review editor for the Los Angeles Daily News. It was during his period as a newspaper columnist that an editor transposed his name into Scott O'Dell, which Scott liked well enough to legally change his name to.
O'Dell began writing both nonfiction and fiction books for adults and articles in 1934. In the late 1950s he began writing children’s books. Scott O’Dell received the Hans Christian Andersen Award for lifetime achievement in 1972. In 1976 he received the University of Southern Mississippi Silver Medallion, and the Regina Medal in 1978.
In 1981, he established the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, an award for $5,000 that recognizes outstanding works of historical fiction. The winners must be published in English by a U.S. publisher and be set in the New World (North, Central, and South America). In 1986, The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books awarded O’Dell this same award.
Scott O’Dell died of prostate cancer on October 15, 1989 at the age of 91.