Cornelia Meigs

American children's writer

Cornelia Lynde Meigs (December 6, 1884 – September 10, 1973) was an American writer. She wrote many kinds of writing. She wrote made-up stories for children. She wrote true stories for children about the lives of important people. She wrote about important things that happened in the past. She wrote about what books for children were good or bad. She also taught other people how to write in the English language.

One of the books that Cornelia Meigs wrote won the Newbery Medal in 1934. That book was called Invincible Louisa. It told about the life of Louisa May Alcott.[1] Three other books that Cornelia Meigs wrote were made Newbery Honor Books. That meant that the people who chose the Newbery Medal winner each year thought that those were very good books.


Cornelia Meigs was born in Rock Island, Illinois, on December 6, 1884. Her father was called Montgomery Meigs.[2] Her mother was called Grace Lynde Meigs. Montgomery and Grace already had four other daughters who were older than Cornelia. Later they had one more daughter.

When Cornelia was one month old, the Meigs family moved to Keokuk, Iowa. Cornelia went to school there. She finished studying at Keokuk High School in 1901.[3] After that, she went to Bryn Mawr College. In 1907, she got an A.B. degree from Bryn Mawr.[4] After that, she went to Davenport, Iowa. She taught children to write good English. The school where she taught was called St. Katherine's School. While she was teaching there, Cornelia started writing books.[5]

The first book that Cornelia wrote was called The Kingdom of the Winding Road. It was first printed in 1915. Macmillan US was the publisher. In 1921 she wrote The Windy Hill, and in 1922 that book was made a Newbery Medal Honor Book. In 1929 her fiction book Clearing Weather was made a Newbery Honor Book, and in 1933 her fiction book Swift Rivers was made a Newbery Honor Book. She also wrote other books for children during this time. Some of these books said that they were written by Adair Aldon. Adair Aldon was a pretend name or pseudonym that Cornelia Meigs used sometimes. The Trade Wind, which was first printed in 1927, won a prize from Little, Brown, and Co., a book publishing company.

In 1934, Cornelia Meigs won the Newbery Medal for writing the true story book Invincible Louisa. This book told about the life of Louisa May Alcott, a famous American writer during the 1800s. Kirkus Reviews said that this book was very good. Kirkus Reviews said that children who liked Louisa May Alcott's most famous book, Little Women, should read Invincible Louisa too.[6]

In 1932, Cornelia Meigs started teaching English at Bryn Mawr College. She taught there until 1950.[7] During World War II, she worked for the United States War Department.[8]

After 1950, Cornelia Meigs taught writing at the New School of Social Research in New York City. In 1953, she helped to write a book called A Critical History of Children's Literature. This was a very important book. It said many things about writing for children. In 1969 she helped to write the second edition of this book.

Cornelia Meigs wrote more than 30 books for children in her life. Most of them were made-up stories. Two of them were true stories about the lives of famous people. Two of her books were plays. She also wrote some books and articles for grown-up people.

Cornelia Meigs died in Havre de Grace, Maryland, on September 10, 1973. She was 88 years old. Most of the papers that she left when she died are in the Special Collections Library at Dartmouth College. Some of her papers are in the de Grummond Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.[9] Some of them are at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa.


  • 1915 Drama League prize, The Steadfast Princess
  • 1922 Newbery runner-up, Windy Hill
  • 1928 Newbery runner-up, Clearing Weather
  • 1933 Newbery runner-up, Swift Rivers
  • 1927 Beacon Hill Bookshelf Prize, The Trade Wind
  • 1934 Newbery Medal, Invincible Louisa
  • 1963 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, Invincible Louisa

Some books that Cornelia Meigs wroteEdit

Made-up stories for childrenEdit

  • The Kingdom of the Winding Road, Macmillan, 1915
  • Master Simon's Garden, Macmillan, 1916
  • The Windy Hill, Macmillan, 1921
  • The Trade Wind, Little Brown, 1927
  • Clearing Weather, Little Brown, 1928
  • The Crooked Apple Tree, Little Brown, 1929
  • Swift Rivers, Macmillan, 1934
  • Young Americans, Ginn, 1936
  • The Scarlet Oak, Macmillan, 1938
  • The Two Arrows, Macmillan, 1949
  • The Dutch Colt, Macmillan, 1952
  • Wild Geese Flying, Macmillan, 1957
  • Mystery at the Red House, Macmillan, 1961

Made-up stories using the name "Adair Aldon"Edit

  • The Island of Appledore, Macmillan, 1917
  • The Pirate of Jasper Peak, Macmillan, 1918
  • At the Sign of the Two Heroes, Century, 1920
  • The Hill of Adventure, Century, 1922


  • The Steadfast Princess, Macmillan, 1916
  • Helga and the White Peacock, Macmillan, 1922


  • Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of "Little Women", Little, Brown, 1933
  • Jane Adams: Pioneer for Social Justice: A Biography, Little Brown, 1970

For adultsEdit

  • Railroad West, Little Brown, 1937, (novel)
  • The Violent Men: A Study of Human Relations in the First American Congress, Macmillan, 1949
  • A Critical History of Children's Literature: A Survey of Children's Books in English from Earliest Times to the Present, Prepared in Four Parts Under the Editorship of Cornelia Meigs, Macmillan, 1953 (624pp); Cornelia Meigs with Anne Thaxter Eaton, Elizabeth Nesbit and Ruth Hill Viguers
Second edition, A Critical History of Children's Literature: A Survey of Children's Books in English, Macmillan, 1969 (708pp)
  • What Makes a College? A History of Bryn Mawr, Macmillan, 1956


  1. ""Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922–Present"". Archived from the original on 2011-10-24. Retrieved 2013-08-28.
  2. "Obituary. Montgomery Cunningham Meigs". The New York Times. January 3, 1892.
  3. "Keokuk High School Graduates  1871". Archived from the original on 2007-03-19. Retrieved 2013-08-28.
  4. Chevalier, Tracy (editor), Twentieth-Century Children's Writers, St. James Press, 1989, pp. 673.
  5. "Cornelia Lynde Meigs" Archived 2010-03-23 at the Wayback Machine. Belinda O. Pennsylvania Center for the Book. Fall 2001. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
  6. "Invincible Louisa". Kirkus Reviews. (1933). Retrieved 2012-05-30.
  7. "The Papers of Cornelia Meigs at Dartmouth College". Rauner Special Collections Library. Dartmouth College. Retrieved 2013-06-27. With biographical timeline.
  8. Bostrom, Kathleen Long (2003). Winning Authors: Profiles of the Newbery Medalists. Libraries Unlimited. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-56308-877-3.
  9. "Cornelia Meigs Papers". de Grummond Children's Literature Collection. University of Southern Mississippi. June 2001. Retrieved 2013-06-27. With biographical sketch.

Other websitesEdit