Obituaries

Carlos Ruiz Zafon (1964-2020)

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

Spanish novelist Carlos Ruiz Zafón has died at the age of 55.

Ruiz Zafón was best known for a quartet of books known collectively as the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, which includes The Angel's Game, The Shadow of the Wind, The Prisoner of Heaven, and The Labyrinth of the Spirits...

 

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Tomie dePaola (1934-2020)

Friday, April 3rd, 2020

Award-winning children's author and illustrator Tomie dePaola has passed away at the age of 85.

Best known for works like Strega Nona, The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, and Quiet, dePaola wrote and illustrated more than 200 books.  He was an artist from a young age, earning a scholarship to study at the Pratt Institute in New York City.  He worked in a wide variety of media, from acrylic paint to collage to pen and ink, creating relatable images with his young audience in mind.  “I try to be as clear and simple as I can be in my illustrations,” he told the Globe, “so that the child can tell what is going on and what the emotions are.”

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Katherine Johnson, 1918-2020

Friday, February 28th, 2020

NASA mathematician and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Katherine Johnson passed away this week at the age of 101.

Johnson's work was instrumental to many of the most famous space flights in American history, from John Glenn's pioneering orbit to the Apollo 11 moon landing.  Despite the crucial nature of her calculations and her inimitable skill, her work, and that of other women of color working at NASA at the time, went largely unnoticed as the spotlight focused on their white, male counterparts.

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Clive Cussler, 1931-2020

Monday, February 24th, 2020

#1 New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Clive Cussler died on February 24. He was 88.

Born in 1931, Clive Cussler started writing after years in the Air Force and working as a copywriter and creative director at advertising agencies. His first novel, the Edgar Award nominated The Mediterranean Caper, was published in 1973, setting off a career that resulted in 84 books, which have been translated into more than 40 languages in over 100 countries. In addition to writing his five perennially bestselling fiction series, Cussler is also the author of five non-fiction titles and two children’s books. Almost every one of his books has been an instant bestseller, including eleven #1 New York Times bestsellers in fiction and one in nonfiction.

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Toni Morrison (1931-2019)

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

Iconic author and Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison has died at the age of 88.

Best known for her works Song of Solomon, Beloved, and The Bluest Eye, Morrison came late to writing.  Her early aspirations included work in academia, but she found herself disenchanted with the race- and color-based hierarchies she found even within the lecture halls of Howard University, where she completed her undergraduate studies...

 

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W.S. Merwin (1927-2019)

Monday, March 18th, 2019

Pultizer Prize-winning poet W.S. (William Stanley) Merwin has passed away at the age of 91.

The author of more than 50 books, including poetry, prose, essays, and translations, Merwin was known both for his work and his activism.  He was first awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1971 for his collection The Carrier of Ladders, but, in an act of protest against the Vietnam War, he refused the prize purse, requesting that it instead be donated to peace activism and draft resistance.  Merwin would later be awarded a second Pulitzer, as well as a National Book Award and other honors.

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Mary Oliver (1935-2019)

Friday, January 18th, 2019

Award-winning and much beloved poet Mary Oliver passed away this week.

Best known for her accessible writing style and attunement to nature, Oliver's work made her one of the most popular poets in the country.  Though she was not always critically acclaimed, her work nonetheless earned her both a Pulitzer Prize (in 1984 for her collection American Primitive) and a National Book Award (in 1992 for New and Selected Poems).

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Stan Lee (1922-2018)

Thursday, November 15th, 2018
By Jodie Brandt, Brilliant Books Comics Curator

Stanley Martin Lieber, known to the world as Stan Lee, was born on December 28th, 1922 in New York, New York. A storyteller from a very young age, Mr. Lee would eventually collaboratively create such iconic comic book characters as the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, and the one I most closely identified with, Spider-Man.

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Harlan Ellison (1934-2018)

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Visionary and volatile science fiction writer Harlan Ellison has died.

A prolific writer, Ellison produced thousands of works ranging from books to articles to reviews to screenplays.  He insisted that his work should be considered "fiction" or "speculative fiction" rather than science fiction, and was known for his contentious and provocative statements.  He reportedly once sent a dead gopher to a publisher and frequently called out film and television studios when their stories too closely resembled his own. 

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