Gary James Paulsen (born May 17, 1939) is an American author of young adult fiction best known for his wilderness coming-of-age novels. In 1997, he received the American Library Association's Margaret Edwards Award for his lifelong commitment to teen literature. He has also been awarded the National Outdoor Book Award for Young People's Literature.
Paulsen was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and raised in St. Paul. He graduated from Macalester College with a bachelor's degree in English literature and psychology in 1961. After working as a school teacher for two years, he moved to California where he worked as an advertising copywriter until 1969. He took several extended vacations during this time, traveling across North America on a motorcycle and working as a ski instructor and mountaineer.
In 1970, he returned to California and began writing full time. His first book, Runaway Jim, was published in 1976 by William Morrow & Company. It was followed by six more Jim books, all of which were set in the Rocky Mountains. A seventh book in the series, called The Wandering Boy, was written but not published until 2014. A new series titled The Edge Series focuses on the lives of teenagers who live at the edge of civilization. There are currently three books in this series too.
Besides writing books, Paulsen is also a popular speaker at schools and libraries around the country.
He authored over 175 books and over 200 papers. He believes in youth's enormous potential. Paulsen is a well-known author for young adult readers. His three novels, Hatchet, Winter Room, and Dogsong, are well-known among young people all around the world, and they have received the Newberry Honor Book Medal.
Besides being an author, Paulsen is also a speaker who visits schools and libraries across the United States and Canada with his message of hope and encouragement for young people.
He has been married to his wife Tana since 1969. They have two children together: a daughter named Chloe and a son named Graham.
Paulsen was born on January 4th, 1945, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up in St. Louis Park, a suburb of Minneapolis. His father was a surgeon and his mother was a nurse. He had one sister named Laurie who is also an author.
When he was only nine years old, Paulsen started writing stories. Some of them were published in school journals while others weren't. But he never stopped writing even though he went to Harvard University at age 19. There he earned two degrees: a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in library science.
After graduating from Harvard, he worked as a librarian for several years before deciding to try his hand at writing full time. He has written many books for both children and adults.
In addition to young adult literature, Paulsen has written multiple books of children's nonfiction, two plays, and countless works of adult fiction and nonfiction. Paulsen, the son of first-generation Danish and Swedish parents, was born in Minnesota in 1939. He grew up in Maple Grove, about 20 miles north of Minneapolis.
He attended Princeton University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in English literature and psychology in 1961. After graduating from college, Paulsen worked as an assistant manager at a bookstore in Minneapolis while writing stories during his spare time. In 1964, he sent out 50 copies of his novel, The Boy Who Wanted to Go Riding Every Day, to book reviewers across the United States. All of them wrote back asking for more books by this "new author". That same year, Random House published Paulsen's first book, which became a bestseller. Since then, all of his novels have been hit movies or television shows.
After selling more than 10 million books, he retired in 2001 to write full time. He lives in Park City, Utah with his wife, writer Laura Paulsen. They have one son together, Griffin Paulsen, who is also a bestselling author. Griffin wrote a book about his father's life called A Great Big World: A Biography of Gary Paulsen.
Gary Paulsen has never married nor does he have any biological children.