Award-Winning Author Ellen Levine (1939-2012) Dies at Age 73
New York, NY (May 30, 2012)--Ellen Levine, award-winning author, teacher, mentor and fierce fighter for social justice, died on May 26, 2012, after a valiant 19-month battle with lung cancer. She died peacefully with her beloved spouse and partner of 40 years, Anne Koedt, and her devoted sister Mada Liebman and adored brother-in-law Burt Liebman by her side.
Ms. Levine graduated with a B.A., magna cum laude with honors, from Brandeis University, an M.A. from University of Chicago, and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.
She was the author of fiction and non-fiction for children, young readers, and adults that focused on important social issues and historical periods. Her rigorous research and devotion to accuracy made her stories compelling. “Henry’s Freedom Box” (a Caldecott Honor) is the true story of a slave who mailed himself to freedom; “Darkness Over Denmark” details the rescue of Jews by the Danes in World War II; “A Fence Away from Freedom” details the internment of Japanese Americans in the 1940s; “Freedom’s Children,” a profile of young black civil rights activists in the 1960s, was termed “nothing short of wonderful” in a New York Times review; “I Hate English,“ about a Chinese girl struggling to learn English, has become a resource for ESL teachers.
Prior to embarking on her writing career, Ellen clerked for Chief Judge Joseph Lord of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and practiced law with the Prisoners Rights Project of the NY Legal Aid Society.
Ms. Levine’s mother, Ide Gruber Levine, was a theater and arts reviewer for the "Review of Reviews" in the 1930’s and was a frequent contributor to the columns of Walter Winchell. Her father, Nathan Levine, one of the first attorneys appointed as a Trial Attorney in the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1947, became a lawyer for immigrant rights after retiring from the INS. “I grew up,” Ellen wrote, “knowing there were battles to be fought and worlds to change.”
Another beloved sister, the actress Dori Brenner, died in 2000.
Ellen is survived by her dear spouse Anne Koedt, herself an author and illustrator of children’s books and a leading voice in the “second wave” of feminism in the 1960s and 70s; her loving sister and brother-in-law Mada and Burt Liebman; beloved niece and nephew Sara Liebman and Dan Liebman and niece-in-law Lis Davis; adored great nephews Nathan Davis Liebman and Lucas Davis Liebman; and the many friends she constantly inspired with her joy of life, her quest for justice, and her indomitable spirit.
Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, May 30, 2012, at 1:45 p.m. at the Plaza Funeral Home, 630 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, New York. Donations in Ellen’s honor may be made to Planned Parenthood or a progressive agency of your choice.
Tracy van Straaten; 212/389-3782: TvanStraaten@scholastic.com