Born Alice Mary Norton, this science fiction and fantasy pioneer published novels under the androgynous name Andre Norton (as well as the masculine names Andrew North and Allen Weston). She published science fiction and fantasy novels when the genres were not only a boy’s club, but also geared toward short stories and the pulp fiction of magazines and comic books. She published for young adults long before the genre was popular, or even understood!
The first female winner of the Grand Master Fantasy Award, she was interviewed on her 75th birthday and offered insight into her YA writing and her push for female protagonists. For Norton, writing young protagonists allowed her to explore themes of isolation and growing into maturity and strength. Writing female lead characters was a logical step because women also experience issues of loneliness, the desire to prove themselves and evolve into mature adults. But she recalls her publisher saying, ‘”women didn’t read science fiction, and that men would not read a book in which a woman was the protagonist.”‘ When her novel, Ordeal in Otherwhere (her first novel featuring a female protagonist) was published in 1964, she proved her publisher wrong.
In celebrating Andre Norton’s birthday, let’s continue to prove such publishers and readers wrong. Here’s to many more years of women reading, writing and starring in fantasy and science fiction. Happy birthday, Andre Norton.
For a complete list of her works, check out her bibliography.