De Angeli, Marguerite Lofft
DE ANGELI, Marguerite Lofft
Born 14 March 1889, Lapeer, Michigan; died June 1987
Daughter of S. C. and Ruby Tuttle Lofft; married John deAngeli, 1910
Marguerite Lofft de Angeli perfected her contralto voice and planned for a musical career, but her inclination to draw was stronger. After 15 years of illustrating for magazines such as Country Gentleman and books such as Elizabeth Vining's Peggy MacIntosh, her editor, Helen Ferris, encouraged her to write the text of a book and illustrate it herself. She created a series of short picture books for six-year-olds based on family situations, which were also the inspiration for later stories, but expanded into chapter-length episodes. De Angeli recreated her father's childhood in Lapeer, Michigan, in Copper-Toed Boots (1938). Fiddlestrings (1974) is a fictionalized biography of her husband.
Jeffrey, de Angeli's six-year-old grandson, was the model for Just Like David (1951). Butter at the Old Price (1971) is her autobiography, written in her eighties.
In addition to family stories, her subjects have been ethnic, traditional, and historical. She pioneered in introducing immigrant groups in Pennsylvania to children through literature. Two books—Henner's Lydia (1936) and Yonnie Wondernose (1944)—are about Amish children on Pennsylvania Dutch farms. De Angeli captured the quaintness of the language in her dialogue. The pioneer days of William Penn and the Pennsylvania woods was the background for Skippack School, Being the Story of Eli Shrawder and of One Christopher Dock, Schoolmaster about the Year 1750 (1939).
She illustrated a book of prayers and graces and then selected 50 songs for Marguerite de Angeli's Book of Favorite Hymns (1963). She excerpted from the King James version of the Bible and illustrated The Old Testament (1960). She also wove Bible verses into her books. Bright April (1946) ends with "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Skippack School concludes with, "The word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."
De Angeli's most ambitious work is Marguerite de Angeli's Book of Nursery and Mother Goose Rhymes (1954). She selected 376 rhymes for which she did 260 illustrations. After World War II, de Angeli traveled to England and sketched churches, castles, inns, and scenery for two months. She specialized in the 13th century under the rule of Edward III.
De Angeli's strength is in the setting of her stories and character development. She researched each book to recreate the time and place correctly. Her carefully drawn characters are developed with insight, and they inevitably mature through the story. The Newbery award was given to her in 1966 for The Door in the Wall (1949), while Black Fox of Lorne (1956) was later an honor book. Yonnie Wondernose and her Book of Nursery and Mother Goose Rhymes were Caldecott honor books. She was the first recipient in 1963 of the Drexel award for children's literature given by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1968 she was awarded the Regina Medal by the Catholic Library Association for a "lifetime of devotion to literature for children."
Ted and Nina Go to the Grocery Store (1935). Ted and Nina Have a Happy Rainy Day (1936). Petite Suzanne (1937). A Summer Day with Ted and Nina (1940). Thee, Hannah! (1940). Elin's Amerika (1941). Up the Hill (1942). Turkey for Christmas (1944). Jared's Island (1947). A Pocket Full of Posies (1961). The Ted and Nina Storybook (1965). The Empty Barn (with A. de Angeli, 1966). The Old Testament (1967). The Door in the Wall: A Play (1969). The Lion in the Box (1975). Whistle for the Crossing (1977).
Hoffman, M., and E. Samuels, Authors and Illustrators of Children's Books (1972). Hopkins, L., More Books by More People (1974). Miller, B., Illustrators of Children's Books (1947). Miller, B., and E. Field, eds., Newbery Medal Books: 1922-1955 (1955).
Junior Book of Authors (1951). SATA (1971).
Children' Literature Review (1976).
—KAREN NELSON HOYLE