Born Alice Norton, 17 February 1912, Cleveland, Ohio
Also writes under: Andrew North
Daughter of Adalbert F. and Daisy Stemm Norton
Although famous as a fantasy and science fiction author for juvenile readers, Andre Norton has written in various genres. Her choice of profession was influenced by her high school teacher of creative writing, under whose encouragement Norton wrote her first book, Ralestone Luck (1938). She originally planned to become a history teacher, but during the Depression took a job at the Cleveland Public Library, and for some years worked at various libraries, including the Library of Congress, until ill health forced her to become a full-time writer. Her love for history reveals itself in many of her novels, particularly the early titles. Typical of these are Huon of the Horn (1951), set in the time of Charlemagne; Scarface (1948), about the exploits of a pirate; Follow the Drum (1942), about colonial Maryland; and Yankee Privateer (1955), a historical adventure about privateering.
In 1934 Norton legally changed her name from Alice to Andre, intuiting that a masculine pseudonym would sell more books. She published her first science fiction novel in 1952, Star Man's Son, 2250 A.D. (reissued as Daybreak, 2250 A.D., 1954), which was warmly received. Many of Norton's science fiction novels feature an adolescent male and are strictly adventure stories. Night of Masks (1964) is typical; it is an adventure story that takes place on the planet Dis, which is lit by a red sun. Only with special goggles can one see in its infrared light. Here Nik Kolherne, an orphan outcast with a severely disfigured face, is sent on an adventure with Vannie, a younger boy wanted by several warring interests. Kolherne agrees to kidnap the boy and takes him to Dis in exchange for plastic surgery on his face and a chance at a normal life. While on Dis, however, he rescues the boy, and in the end Kolherne has a new face as well as an understanding of the responsibilities accompanying manhood.
To even the most familiar and routine fast-moving adventures, Norton brings added dimensions by varying the ethnicities of her characters in a genre in which white male heroes are the norm. American Indian heroes are featured in several of Norton's novels: The Beast Master (1959), The Sioux Spaceman (1960), and The Defiant Agents (1962). These heroes are often exiled from Earth and thrust out to survive on an alien planet. Ordeal in Otherwhere (1964) is the first science fiction story to feature a female heroine, and Storm over Warlock (1960) features the first black protagonist in this genre. Other novels such as Star Man's Son have mutant heroes in ethnically varied worlds.
In later years, Norton increasingly featured female protagonists. Her Witch World series, with its strong, talented women and mysterious matriarchal society, has been extremely successful. Her protagonists as a rule are impetuous, adaptable loners who feel a kindred to animals. Many are shapeshifters or share their adventures with bestial allies, notably with cats or catlike beings. Her tormented adolescent, sometimes orphaned heroes struggle to survive and find a place to belong.
Supporting Norton's themes of conflict and communication between the individual and society, magical powers and talismans are often central to her fiction. She often gifts her characters with the abilities for telepathy and teleportation and with props such as magical gems and amulets. Her particular interest in stones as the source of, or aid to, magical talents has been widely remarked. Her heroes feel a strong attachment to nature and her plots dramatize her distrust of technology run amok. Even her futuristic tales are flavored with Earth's past: Norton often draws on folklore, myth, and feudal societies in her world-building.
Norton draws clear, striking portraits of alien ways and settings. This attention to detail, to the establishing of the human in the nonhuman, makes Norton's writing popular. She is one of the most prolific and bestselling of all fantasy and science fiction writers. She has also been a respected editor, both at Gnome Press from 1950 to 1958 and as an anthologist. She has written many series, and allows other writers to write in her invented universes. Norton earned the Grand Master or "Gandalf" award for lifetime achievement from the World Science Fiction Association in 1977. She lives in Florida, where she continues to write and collaborate.
The Prince Commands (1934). The Sword is Drawn (1944). Rogue Reynard (1947). Sword in Sheath (1949, reissued as Island of the Lost, 1952). Star Rangers (1953, reissued as The Last Planet 1955). At Swords' Points (1954). Murders for Sale (as Allen Weston, pseudonym for Grace Hogarth 1954, reissued as Sneeze on Sunday 1992). The Stars are Ours! (1954). Sargasso of Space (as A. North, 1955). Star Guard (1955). The Crossroads of Time (1956). Plague Ship (as North, 1956). Stand to Horse (1956). Sea Siege (1957). Star Born (1957). Star Gate (1958). The Time Traders (1958). Galactic Derelict (1959). Secret of the Lost Race (1959), reissued as Wolfshead (1977). Voodoo Planet (as North, 1959). Shadow Hawk (1960). Catseye (1961). Ride Proud, Rebel! (1961). Star Hunter (1961). Eye of the Monster (1962). Lord of Thunder (1962). Rebel Spurs (1962). Judgment on Janus (1963). Key out of Time (1963). Witch World (1963). Web of the Witch World (1964). Quest Crosstime (1965, reissued as Crosstime Agent 1974). Steel Magic (1965, reissued as Gray Magic 1967). Three Against the Witch World (1965). The X Factor (1965). Year of the Unicorn (1965). Moon of Three Rings (1966). Victory on Janus (1966). Octagon Magic (1967). Operation Time Search (1967). Warlock of the Witch World (1967). Dark Piper (1968). Fur Magic (1968). Sorceress of the Witch World (1968). The Zero Stone (1968). Bertie and May (with B. S. Norton, 1969). Postmarked the Stars (1969). Uncharted Stars (1969). Dread Companion (1970). Ice Crown (1970). High Sorcery (1971). Android at Arms (1971). Exiles of the Stars (1971). Breed to Come (1972). The Crystal Gryphon (1972). Dragon Magic (1972). Garan the Eternal (1972). Spell of the Witch World (1972). Forerunner Foray (1973). Here Abide Monsters (1973). Iron Cage (1974). The Jargoon Pard (1974). Lavender-Green Magic (1974). The Many Worlds of Andre Norton (1974). Outside (1974). The Book of Andre Norton (1975). The Day of the Ness (with M. Gilbert, 1975). Knave of Dreams (1975). Merlin's Mirror (1975). No Night Without Stars (1975). Star Ka'at (with D. Madlee, 1976). The White Jade Fox (1975). Perilous Dreams (1976). Red Hart Magic (1976). Wraiths of Time (1976). The Opal-Eyed Fan (1977). Trey of Swords (1977). Velvet Shadows (1977). Quag Keep (1978). Star Ka'at World (with D. Madlee,1978). Yurth Burden (1978). Zarsthor's Bane (1978). Seven Spells to Sunday (with P. Miller, 1979). Snow Shadow (1979). Star Ka'ats and the Plant People (with D. Madlee, 1979). Iron Butterflies (1980). Lore of the Witch World (1980). Forerunner (1981). Gryphon in Glory (1981). Horn Crown (1981). Star Ka'ats and the Winged Warriors (with D. Madlee, 1981). Ten Mile Treasure (1981). Moon Called (1982). Caroline (with E. Cushing, 1983). 'Ware Hawk (1983). Wheel of Stars (1983). Gryphon's Eyrie (with A. C. Crispin, 1984). House of Shadows (with P. Miller, 1984). Stand & Deliver (1984). Were-Wrath (1984). Magic in Ithkar (1985). Magic in Ithkar 2 (1985). Ride the Green Dragon (with P. Miller, 1985). Forerunner: The Second Venture (1985). Flight in Yiktor (1986). Magic in Ithkar 3 (1986). The Gate of the Cat (1987). Magic in Ithkar 4 (1987). Serpent's Tooth (1987). The Magic Books (1988). Moon Mirror (1988). Wizards' Worlds (1989). Imperial Lady: A Fantasy of Han China (with S. Schwartz, 1989). The Jekyll Legacy (with R. Bloch,1990). Black Trillium (with M. Z. Bradley and J. May, 1990). Dare to Go A-Hunting (1990). Tales of the Witch World 3 (1990). The Elvenbane (with M. Lackey, 1991). Storms of Victory (1991). Catfantastic II (1991). Flight of Vengeance (1992). The Mark of the Cat (1992). Songsmith (with A. C. Crispin, 1992). Brother to Shadows (1993). Redline the Stars (with P. M. Griffin, 1993). Golden Trillium (1993). Empire of the Eagle (with S. Schwartz,1993). Annals of the Witch World (1994). Catfantastic III (1994). Firehand (with P. M. Griffin, 1994). The Hands of Lyr (1994). On Wings of Magic (with P. Mathews and S. Miller, 1994). Elvenblood (with M. Lackey, 1995). Empire of the Eagle (1995). The Key of the Keplian (with L. McConchie, 1995). Mirror of Destiny (1995). Tiger Burning Bright (with M. Z. Bradley and M. Lackey, 1995). Catfantastic IV (1996). The Magestone (with M. H. Schaub,1996). The Monster's Legacy (1996). The Warding of Witch World (1996). Derelict for Trade (with S. Smith, 1997). A Mind for Trade (with S. Smith, 1997). Ciara's Song (with L. McConchie,1998). Scent of Magic (1998). The Shadow of Albion (with R. Edghill, 1999).
Beebe, D. M., The Quest for Harmony with the Other in Andre Norton's Young Adult Literature (1995). Bleiler, E. F., ed., Supernatural Fiction Writers (1985). Broughton, I., ed., The Writer's Mind: Interviews with American Authors (1989). Braude, A., ed., Andre Norton: Fables & Futures (1989). Deusterman, J. M., Andre Norton's Witch World Series (1976). Elwood, R., ed., The Many Worlds of Andre Norton (1974). Fletcher, M. P., ed., Reader's Guide to Twentieth-Century Science Fiction (1989). Hensley, C. Andre Norton's Science Fiction and Fantasy, 1950-1979 (1980). Lacy, N. J., ed., The Arthurian Encyclopedia (1986). Lofland, R. D., Andre Norton (1960). MacNee, M. J., Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Writers (1995). Magill, F. N., ed., Survey of Science Fiction Literature (1979). Schlobin, Roger C., Andre Norton, a Primary and Secondary Bibliography (1980, revised edition with I. Harrison,1994). Schwartz, S., ed., Moonsinger's Friends. An Anthology in Honor of Andre Norton (1985). Staicar, T., ed., The Feminine Eye (1982). Stephensen-Payne, P., Andre Norton, Grand Master of the Witch World, a Working Bibliography (1993). Sullivan, C. W., ed., Science Fiction for Young Readers (1993). Turner, D. G., The First Editions of Andre Norton (1974). Wilbur, S., Andre Norton (1966). Yoke, C. B., Roger Zelazny and Andre Norton, Proponents of Individualism (1979).
Facts on File Bibliography of American Fiction 1919-1988 (1991). The 100 Most Popular Young Adult Authors (1996). St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers (1996). St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers (1996). Contemporary Science Fiction Authors (1975). SATA (1971, 1997). Twentieth-Century American Science Fiction Writers (1981). TCCW (1978).
Algol (Summer/Fall 1977). Children's Literature Association Quarterly (Summer 1985). Extrapolation (Fall 1985). Fantastic (Oct. 1980). Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts (1991). Locus (June 1991, Apr. 1992, July 1993, Jan. 1995). Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine (Spring 1991). Riverside Quarterly (Jan. 1970). School Librarian (July 1967). Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review Annual 1991 (1994). Science Fiction Chronicle (Oct. 1988, Aug. 1994). Starlog (Nov. 1985).
—BILLIE J. WAHLSTROM,
UPDATED BY FIONA KELLEGHAN