|Virginia Hamilton's writing was deeply influenced by her family history. Her mother's side was descended from a fugitive slave named Levi Perry, and the extended families of both parents contained excellent storytellers. She majored in writing at Antioch College but left before graduating when an instructor encouraged her to test her writing skills in New York City. Living in New York, she attended the New School and extended one of her short stories into the novel ZEELY, which was published in 1967. Also during this time, she met and married poet and anthologist Arnold Adoff, who returned with her to her family farm in Ohio after living in New York for 15 years. In 1969 she received the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe Award for THE HOUSE OF DIES DREAR. In 1975 she won the National Book Award and the Newbery Medal for M.C. HIGGINS THE GREAT--the first book ever to achieve both honors. She was honored with the Regina Medal in 1990 and with the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1992. In 1995 she received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for her body of work. She died of breast cancer at the age of 65.