Facts About S. E. Hinton-The Voice of the Youth

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1. Susan Eloise Hinton was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is well-known for her books written for teenagers and young adults. Her books are course material in many schools, though there was a time when they were banned in some schools.

2. Hinton was motivated to write for teenagers because she noticed that the fiction available at the time did not reflect the troubled realities that most young people had to face. She wrote her first book, The Outsiders, when she was 17. This book, written in the first person, describes the travails of a young boy from a working class family. The boy tells of the clashes between rival gangs, one of which has well-off members. The protagonist belongs to the other gang. Hinton’s publisher told her to use her initials instead of the obviously feminine first names, and thereafter, she continued to write as S.E. Hinton.

3. The Outsiders created a stir when it was published, because of its unlikely hero, and its frank description of the class divide prevalent in many American schools. There were many critics, but the book sold more than 4 million copies, and Hinton used the profits to pay for her enrolment at the University of Tulsa. Here, she met her future husband, David Inhofe.

4. The excitement and pressure of being a well-known person resulted in a drying up of Hinton’s creativity. She stopped writing, until David Inhofe goaded her into writing two pages each day. Finally, in 1971, That Was Then, This Is Now was published. This book targeted the same age group and was successful. She then published two more titles, which were also popular.

5. Taming the Star Runner was published in 1988, and marked a departure from her usual style. For the first time, she wrote in the third person. After the publication of this book, she took a seven year break from writing.

She married David Inhofe in 1970, and they had a son, Nicholas, in 1983. Motherhood spurred Hinton on to writing for a much younger readership. She wrote Big David, Little David and Puppy Sister, based on her experiences with her young son, Nick.

7. A number of Hinton’s stories have been made into movies. The Outsiders and Rumble Fish were directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Tex was produced by Disney Studios and a film adaptation was also made of That Was Then, This Is Now.

8. Hinton also acted in some movies and TV series. She played a minor role in the famous Supernatural series and played small parts in her own film adaptations. She was actively involved in the production of The Outsiders and Rumble Fish, co- writing the screenplay with Coppola for Rumble Fish, and scouting for locations. She played the part of the school principal in the film The Legend of Billy Fall. Matt Dillon acted in three of her movie adaptations, and became a good friend.

9. She was the first person to receive the YASD/SJL Author Achievement Award which is given by the Young Adult Services Division of the American Library Association and School Library Journal. Rumble Fish, Tex and Taming the Star Runner have all won the American Library Association Award for Best Book for Young Adults.

10. Hinton’s writing has been based on her own experiences. Her early stories expressed the fears and concerns that many young people feel. She has struck a chord with young readers because of her forthright style and her unabashed depiction of the unpleasant side of growing up. Her stories for small children are inspired by her daily interactions with her own child; perhaps this is what her little readers have found fresh and endearing.

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