Vera B. Williams
I have been thinking about Vera B. Williams a lot lately. I have been rereading her books. I have been paging through pictures of her.
I had met her a few times. In my library at Bank Street. At book stores. At PEN events. At the offices of Greenwillow Books.
This is a picture, Susan Kuklin (writer, photographer, activist) made of Vera that is on the back cover of Amber was Brave and Essie was Smart.
Vera B. Williams. So there is a rabbit hole of research that I was having a bit of difficulty finding my way out of.
There is always more to find. I stumbled across this C-Span Book TV video of a PEN panel.
How I got there
I did a Google search for Vera B. Williams, PEN and video and found this one on the C-Span site https://www.c-span.org/video/?123530-1/writing-childrens-memoirs
It is Vera as the chair of the Children’s /Young Adult Author’s Committee moderating a panel on Jul 25, 1999, twenty years ago.
Searching on the PEN site for more about Vera B. Williams brought me to this amazing video of Vera moderating a panel discussion with Lois Lowry, Anita Lobel, and Jean Fritz.
Liz Levy wrote in a tribute on PEN website (PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.)
“Vera B. Williams, our beloved chair of the PEN Children’s/Young Adult Book Authors Committee, one of the world’s most honored authors and illustrators, political activist, and possessor of one of the greatest laughs, died on October 16, 2015, at age 88. Vera and I were co-chairs of the committee for many years, until we handed the reins over to Susan Kuklin and Fran Manushkin. Vera was a fierce defender of children’s right to read and choose their own books.”
The Voyage of the Reader: Using Children’s books to Create a Lifelong Love of Reading