Beverly Cleary, the beloved children’s books author famous for “Henry Huggins,” “Ribsy” and “Ramona Quimby,” has died. She was 104.
HarperCollins, her longtime publisher, announced her death Friday. Cleary, whose books have sold more than 85 million copies and have been translated into 29 different languages, died Thursday in her longtime home of Carmel, California.
“We are saddened by the passing of Beverly Cleary, one of the most beloved children’s authors of all time,” the publisher said in a statement. “Looking back, she’d often say, ‘I’ve had a lucky life,’ and generations of children count themselves lucky too — lucky to have the very real characters Beverly Cleary created, including Henry Huggins, Ramona and Beezus Quimby, and Ralph S. Mouse, as true friends who helped shape their growing-up years. We at HarperCollins also feel extremely lucky to have worked with Beverly Cleary and to have enjoyed her sparkling wit. Her timeless books are an affirmation of her everlasting connection to the pleasures, challenges, and triumphs that are part of every childhood.”
A cause of death was not given, but her publisher noted that the family gives special thanks to Dr. Richard King and the health center staff at the Carmel Valley Manor.
Cleary’s name is etched into the hearts of people everywhere since her debut children’s novel “Henry Huggins,” which was first published in 1950.
For her 90th birthday, Cleary told The Post that despite her mass success, she was done writing forever.
“I got rid of my typewriter,” the Oregon native said in 2006. “I’ve always hated to type.”
She also said that before writing her first “Henry Huggins” book, she was new to writing.
“I didn’t know how to write a book,” she said. “But I had done storytelling in the library, where we studied a story and then told it. We didn’t read it aloud, we told it. And so, I mentally told ‘Henry Huggins,’ and wrote it down.”
Cleary also said her whimsical books were often drawn from her own experiences. When asked about inspiration, she’d say: “From my own experience and from the world around me.” In one such instance, the “Henry Huggins” story in which he catches a salmon with his bare hands is based on a true story from her cousin.
But as for Ramona Quimby — the spirited but brash gal who inspired the 2010 movie “Ramona and Beezus” — that’s just one side of her.
“I wasn’t a pest, but I often had Ramona-like thoughts,” she said.
But Cleary herself was no pest. In 2000, the author was named a “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress as an honor to her contributions to children’s literature. She was also awarded the 2003 National Medal of Art from the National Endowment for the Arts.
She was predeceased by her husband, Clarence Cleary, and is survived by their two children, Malcolm and Marianne, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
HarperCollins said fellow children’s literature superstar Judy Blume was even inspired by her. Ilene Cooper said of her: “When it comes to writing books kids love, nobody does it better.”