Writer. Byars was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, on August 7, 1928, the daughter of George Guy Cromer and Nan Rugheimer. After attending Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, she graduated in 1950 from Queens College in Charlotte with a bachelor of arts degree in English, although she had begun college as a mathematics major. On June 24, 1950, she married Edward Ford Byars, a professor of engineering and a writer. Byars began her writing career with magazine articles until dedicating herself to children’s literature. In 1962 her first book, Clementine, was published. It was the first of many books that Byars would create from her personal experiences.
Among her numerous novels, Byars won the most critical acclaim for The Summer of the Swans (1970), the story of a young girl named Sara and her experiences with her mentally handicapped brother, Charlie. This book won many honors, including the John Newbery Medal from the American Library Association. In total, Byars has written more than fifty books, including The Night Swimmers (1980), Wanted . . . Mud Blossom (1991), and Keeper of the Doves (2002). Several have been adapted for television. In her autobiography, The Moon and I, published in 1991, Byars used the arrival of a blacksnake she named Moon to reveal her insights on a writer’s life along with anecdotes from her childhood.
Byars has three daughters and a son. With her daughters Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers, she wrote My Dog, My Hero (2000). Byars resides in Clemson with her husband.
Byars, Betsy. The Moon and I. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: J. Messner, 1991.