Eloise (Jarvis) McGraw (C’37) wasn’t always an award-winning children’s author. As a senior at Principia College, she was an award-winning artist—the first recipient of the College’s Sally Brown Rainwater Memorial Art Award. Her prize: $25.00 and a write-up in the Purpose.
Art degree in hand, McGraw launched her career in the visual arts, taking mural and portrait commissions and teaching oil painting at Oklahoma City University. Ever the irrepressible creative, she also “dabbled in modern dance, puppetry, and radio and children’s theater,” according to the Oregon Encyclopedia.
It would appear that children’s theater stuck: In 1950, McGraw's entire focus shifted to children’s storytelling, publishing her first children’s book to critical acclaim from the New York Times and the Junior Literary Guild. By 1952, her third book in three years won the Newbery Honor Book Award, for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.”
Over the next 45 years, McGraw published 20 books—creating the jacket design for four—and winning three Newbery Awards. Today, McGraw is not just an award-winning author, she is the namesake of Oregon Literary Arts’ annual Eloise Jarvis McGraw Award for Children’s Literature.
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