Parish, Margaret Cecile
In addition to continuing her writing after returning to Manning, Parish became the children’s book reviewer for the “Carolina Today” television show on WIS-TV in Columbia. She also participated in teacher workshops and taught creative writing techniques to elementary-school children.
Author. “Peggy” Parish was born in Manning on July 14, 1927, the daughter of Herman Stanley Parish and Cecile Rogers. She attended Manning public schools and graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in English in 1948. Parish also completed graduate work at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in 1950. She lived briefly in Oklahoma and Kentucky before moving to New York to teach reading and to serve as director of second and third grades at the Dalton School in New York City. While teaching at Dalton, Parish began writing books for children. Her first book, My Golden Book of Manners, was published by Golden Pleasure Books in 1962. A second book, Let’s Be Indians, published in 1963, remained a popular children’s book for decades.
International fame for Parish, however, followed the creation and publication of Amelia Bedelia in 1964. The title character is a maid who interprets everything literally, leading her to use real sponges to make a sponge cake and to “dress” a turkey in stylish clothes, much to the delight of children all over the world. Thank You, Amelia Bedelia (1965) and Amelia Bedelia and the Surprise Show (1967) followed. Ultimately, Parish wrote a series of eleven books about Amelia Bedelia and her comic antics, as well as more than thirty other children’s books. Her books have sold more than seven million copies and have been translated into many different languages.
In 1972 Parish returned to her hometown, where she continued her writing until her untimely death in 1988. She won a Palmetto State Award, a Garden State Children’s Book Award, and a School Library Journal award for Dinosaur Time in 1977. Parish also received the Milner Award from the city of Atlanta in 1984 and the Keystone State Children’s Book Award from the state of Pennsylvania in 1986 for Teach Us, Amelia Bedelia. In addition to continuing her writing after returning to Manning, Parish became the children’s book reviewer for the “Carolina Today” television show on WIS-TV in Columbia. She also participated in teacher workshops and taught creative writing techniques to elementary-school children. In 1988, to celebrate Amelia Bedelia’s twenty-fifth birthday, the publishers Harper and Row and Greenwillow and Avon sponsored celebrations across the nation, encouraging students to send thousands of cards and letters to special mailboxes installed in libraries and bookstores. In August 1988 Parish published Amelia’s Family Album. Three months later, on November 19, 1988, she died of a ruptured abdominal aneurysm in a Manning hospital. A bronze statue of Amelia Bedelia, commissioned by the citizens of Manning in 1999, stands in front of the Clarendon County Library.
Obituary. Columbia State, November 20, 1988, p. D6.