Skip to main content
Select Source:

Hinton, S(usan) E(loise) 1950-

HINTON, S(usan) E(loise) 1950-

Personal

Born July 22, 1950, in Tulsa, OK; married David E. Inhofe (in mail-order business), September, 1970; children: Nicholas David. Education: University of Tulsa, B.S., 1970.

Addresses

Home Tulsa, OK. Agent c/o Author Mail, Viking, Penguin Putnam, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014. E-mail [email protected]

Career

Writer. Actor in film adaptations of her novels, including (Mrs. Barnes) Tex, 1982; (hooker on strip), Rumble Fish, 1983; and (nurse) The Outsiders, 1983.

Awards, Honors

New York Herald Tribune Best Teenage Books citation, 1967, Chicago Tribune Book World Spring Book Festival Honor book, 1967, Media & Methods Maxi Award, American Library Association (ALA) Best Young Adult Books citation, both 1975, and Massachusetts Children's Book Award, 1979, all for The Outsiders; ALA Best Books for Young Adults citation, and Chicago Tribune Book World Spring Book Festival Award Honor Book, both 1971, and Massachusetts Children's Book Award, 1978, all for That Was Then, This Is Now; ALA Best Books for Young Adults citation, and School Library Journal Best Books of the Year citation, both 1975, and Land of Enchantment Book Award, New Mexico Library Association, 1982, all for Rumble Fish; ALA Best Books for Young Adults citation, and School Library Journal Best Books of the Year citation, both 1979, New York Public Library Books for the Teen-Age citation, 1980, American Book Award nomination for children's paperback, 1981, Sue Hefly Award Honor Book, Louisiana Association of School Libraries, and California Young Reader Medal nomination, California Reading Association, both 1982, and Sue Hefly Award, 1983, all for Tex; Golden Archer Award, 1983; ALA Young Adult Services Division/ School Library Journal Margaret A. Edwards Award, 1988, for body of work.

Writings

YOUNG-ADULT NOVELS

The Outsiders, Viking (New York, NY), 1967.

That Was Then, This Is Now, illustrated by Hal Siegel, Viking (New York, NY), 1971, reprinted, Puffin (New York, NY), 1998.

Rumble Fish (also see below), Delacorte (New York, NY), 1975.

Tex, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1979.

Taming the Star Runner, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1988.

FOR CHILDREN

Big David, Little David, illustrated by Alan Daniel, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1995.

The Puppy Sister, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1995.

FOR ADULTS

Hawkes Harbor, Tor (New York, NY), 2004.

OTHER

(With Francis Ford Coppola) Rumble Fish (screenplay; adapted from her novel), Universal, 1983.

Adaptations

Film adaptations of Hinton's novels include Tex, starring Matt Dillon, Walt Disney Productions, 1982; The Outsiders, directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring C. Thomas Howell and Matt Dillon, Warner Bros., 1983; Rumble Fish, 1983; and That Was Then, This Is Now, starring Emilio Estevez and Craig Sheffer, Paramount, 1985. The Outsiders was adapted as a television series by Fox-TV, 1990. Current Affairs and Mark Twain Media adapted The Outsiders and That Was Then, This Is Now as filmstrips with cassettes, both 1978. Rumble Fish was adapted as a record and cassette, Viking, 1977; Hawkes Harbour was adapted as an audiobook, Brilliance Audio, 2004.

Sidelights

In 1967 The Outsiders, S. E. Hinton's novel about teen gangs and the troubled process of fitting in, changed the face of publishing and created the genre of gritty young-adult "problem" fiction. Perhaps ironically, this quiet revolution in book writing and publishing was wrought by a seventeen-year-old girl, who by all rights should have been one of the intended readers of the novel, not its author. Hinton's impact on young-adult literature was confirmed by her receipt of the 1988 Margaret A. Edwards Award for career achievement. Although she has produce only a handful of books, sales of The Outsiders number in the millions and four of her five YA titles have been filmed.

Hinton was born in 1948, in Tulsa, Oklahoma and grew up a voluntary tomboy in love with horses. A self-confessed outsider as a youngster, she did not belong to any one clique in school, but was friends with a wide variety of students. Along with horses Hinton also developed an early love of reading. "I started reading about the same time everyone else did," she once wrote in the Fourth Book of Junior Authors, "and began to write a short time later. The major influence on my writing has been my reading. I read everything, including Comet cans and coffee labels."

Hinton's first writing efforts focused on horses, and her stories were generally told from a boy's point of view. By the time she reached high school, she was ready to tackle a larger subject, namely the rivalry between two groups in her high school, the "greasers" and the affluent "socs" (pronounced "soshes" for Socials).

"I felt the greasers were getting knocked when they didn't deserve it," Hinton told an interviewer for Seventeen shortly after publication of her novel. "The custom for instance, of driving by a shabby boy and screaming 'Greaser!' at him always made me boil. But it was the cold-blooded beating of a friend of mine that gave me the idea of writing a book."

Beginning The Outsiders as a way of coping with her father's illness, Hinton worked through four drafts of her story before she was happy with it. While she had not considered publication, the mother of one of her school friends read the manuscript and immediately saw commercial possibilities for the book. The woman, a writer herself, urged Hinton to get in touch with her own New York agent. Because The Outsiders is narrated from a male perspective, Hinton's publisher, Viking, suggested that she adopt the genderless author name S. E. Hinton.

The Outsiders follows a few days in the lives of a small group of Tulsa teenagers, and begins and ends with the same lines: "When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home." The book purports to be a composition the narrator, Ponyboy Curtis, is writing for English class. Trailed home from the movie by a group of Socs, Ponyboy is jumped by the rival gang and saved by his older brothers, Darry and Sodapop, and his gang, the greasers. Other characters include tough guy Dallas Winston and switchblade-packing Two-Bit Matthews.

A late-night rendezvous with Soc girls Cherry and Marcia leads to another gang confrontation, and ultimately Ponyboy and Johnny run away, but not before Johnny kills Sheldon in another gang showdown. Eventually deciding to face their fate, the boys return, but an act of heroism lands Johnny in the hospital in critical condition. Johnny's death pushes the edgy Dallas over the line, and he is killed by police during a grocery-store robbery; Ponyboy, meanwhile, is prepared to take the murder rap for Johnny, but ultimately he is acquitted and begins to come to terms with events.

Critical reception to The Outsiders was mostly laudatory; those with reservations noted that the novel errs on the side of over-sentimentality and clichéed writing. Writing in Horn Book, Jane Manthorne called Hinton's work "remarkable," and "a moving, credible view of the outsiders from inside." Reviewing the book in Atlantic Monthly, Nat Hentoff lamented the sometimes "factitious" plot, but declared that Hinton, "with an astute ear and a lively sense of the restless rhythms of the young, also explores the tenacious loyalties on both sides of the class divide." Hentoff surmised that the book was popular among teen readers "because it stimulates their own feelings and questionings about class and differing life-styles." Regardless of the opinion of adult reviewers, a Times Literary Supplement contributor concluded, "Young readers will waive literary discrimination about a book of this kind and adopt Ponyboy as a kind of folk hero for both his exploits and his dialogue."

Royalties from The Outsiders helped to finance Hinton's education at the University of Tulsa where she studied education and where she met her future husband, David Inhofe. However, for several years she suffered from writer's block. As she recalled in an interview with Linda Plemons for the University of Tulsa Annual, after her first novel was published "I couldn't write. I taught myself to type in the sixth grade, and I couldn't even type or use my typewriter to write a letter. Things were pretty bad because I also went to college and started reading good writers and I thought, 'Oh, no.' I read The Outsiders again when I was 20, and I thought it was the worst piece of trash I'd ever seen." Finally, with encouragement from Inhofe, Hinton started a second novel. Producing two pages a day, Hinton had, after a few months, a rough draft of That Was Then, This Is Now.

In her second novel Hinton sets her action in the same Tulsa-like surroundings and focuses on an orphan, Mark, who has lived with the narrator, Bryon, and Bryon's mother since his own parents killed each other in a fight. The days of hippies are at hand, and drugs are now a major part of the teen landscape. One of the characters, M&M, is a proto-hippy whose LSD overdose tips the balances between Bryon and Mark. No angel himself, Bryon turns in his foster brother for supplying M&M with drugs. There is gang violence aplenty, teens on the prowl and on their ownPonyboy Curtis even makes an appearance.

Overall That Was Then, This Is Now "lacks something" in the way of inspiration, according to Jay Daly in Presenting S. E. Hinton. Other reviewers found the author's second novel an effective portrait of yet another teenager in pain. For Michael Cart, writing in the New York Times Books Review, Hinton creates "a mature, disciplined novel, which excites a response in the reader. Whatever its faults, her book will be hard to forget." In School Library Journal, Brooke Anson remarked called the novel an "excellent, insightful mustering of the pressures on some teen-agers today," while Horn Book contributor Sheryl B. Andrews called it "disturbing" and "sometimes ugly." Nonetheless, Andrews added, That Was Then, This Is Now "will speak directly to a large number of teen-agers and does have a place in the understanding of today's cultural problems."

In Hinton's third novel, Rumble Fish, narrator Rusty-James is another classic sensitive outsider type who begins his narrative with the blunt declaration: "I was hanging out at Benny's, playing pool, when I heard Biff Wilcox was looking to kill me." Like Hinton's other novels, Rumble Fish takes place in compressed time, focusing on incidents that change the life of the narrator forever. Dubbed Hinton's "most ambitious" novel by Geoff Fox and George Walsh writing in the St. James Guide to Children's Writers, the book follows Rusty-James's attempts to make some meaning of life while feeling overshadowed by the gang conflicts that had made his older brother, the volatile Motorcycle Boy, a hero in the eyes of his peers. Now, however, Motorcycle Boy feels out of place, without hope, and he meets an ignoble end when he is gunned down while breaking into a pet store. By novel's end Rusty-James is on his own and directionless, having lost his brother, his reputation, and his girl.

As Jane Abramson noted in School Library Journal, "it is Rusty-James, emotionally burnt out at 14, who is the ultimate victim" in Rumble Fish. While Abramson concluded that the "stylistically superb" novel "packs a punch that will leave readers of any age reeling," Anita Silvey echoed the sentiments of other reviewers by noting in Horn Book that the novel is unsatisfying and Hinton's continued writing efforts "unpromising."

Although it earned mixed reviews, Rumble Fish found many admirers. A Publishers Weekly contributor declared that "Hinton is a brilliant novelist," and Margery Fisher, writing in Growing Point, found the book "as uncompromising in its view of life as it is disciplined." While some reviwers complained of blatant symbolism in the character of Motorcycle Boy and the fighting fish that give the book its title, Fisher concluded that, "Of the three striking books by this young author, Rumble Fish seems the most carefully structured and the most probing."

Exploring themes from aloneness to biological necessity, Rumble Fish tackles large questions in a small package. As Daly concluded of the novel, "In the end we respond to Rumble Fish in a much deeper way than we do to That Was Then, This Is Now. It's an emotional, almost a physical response, as opposed to the more rational, intellectual reaction that the other book prompted." Daly went on to note that despite its defects in too-obvious symbolism, it "works as a novel . And there is a name usually given to this kind of success. It is called art."

Hinton herself noted that she had been reading a lot about color symbolism and mythology when writing Rumble Fish, and that such concerns crept into the writing of the novel, especially in the character of Motorcycle Boy, the alienated, colorblind gang member looking for meaning.

The standard four years passed again before publication of Hinton's fourth title, Tex, which was, according to Daly, "Hinton's most successful effort" to date. Once again the reader is on familiar ground with near-orphan protagonists, and troubled youths. With Tex, however, Hinton creates a more sensitive and perhaps less troubled narrator.

Fourteen-year-old Tex is left in the care of his older brother Mason while their father is riding the rodeo circuit. When Mason is forced to sell off the family horses to pay bills, Tex's own horse, Negrito, must go. Straining an already strained relationship between the brothers, this loss prompts Tex to run off in search of his horse. When Mason and Tex are kidnaped by a hitchhiker (Mark from That Was Then, This Is Now, who has busted out of jail), Tex's presence of mind saves them, but gets the hitchhiker killed. The notoriety that follows brings the boys' father home, but disappointment follows when Dad fails to track down Negrito as he promised. Tex gets into more trouble and ultimately lands in the hospital with a bullet wound. After he learns that his real father was another rodeo rider, he begins to sort out his life and relationships, and ultimately finds a job working with the horses he loves.

While noting that "Hinton's style has matured since she exploded onto the YA scene in 1967," Marilyn Kaye added in a School Library Journal review of Tex that the author's "raw energy has not been tamedits been cultivated" to create "a fine, solidly constructed, and well-paced story." Growing Point reviewer Fisher once again had high praise for Hinton, concluding that in the novel she "has achieved that illusion of reality which any fiction writer aspires to and which few ever completely achieve."

Throughout the early 1980s, Hinton was busy with movie adaptations of her novels; in addition, her son was born in 1983. In 1988 she produced another novel, Taming the Star Runner, which, while dealing with her characteristic themes, also forged a new directions. Hinton moves from first-to third-person narration in the story of fifteen-year-old Travis Harris who is sent to work at his uncle's Oklahoma ranch in lieu of juvenile hall. Travis nearly killed his stepfather with a fireplace poker in an attack not unprovoked by the abusive step-parent. Unwillingly, Travis learns hard lessons on the ranch, and the change from urban to rural is not a Technicolor idyll. Travis arrives in the middle of his uncle's divorce, and the man is distant from him. In addition to deciding to become a writer, Travis spends much of his free time hanging out at a barn on the property that is rented to horse trainer Casey Kincaid. Casey is in the process of taming the eponymous stallion, Star Runner, and the story follows the relationship that grows between this unlikely pair.

Reviews of Taming the Star Runner were largely positive. Nancy Vasilakis commented in Horn Book that it "has been generally agreed that no one can speak to the adolescent psyche the way S. E. Hinton can," and with this novel the author "hasn't lost her touch." In the New York Times Book Review, Patty Campbell noted that "Hinton has produced another story of a tough young Galahad in black T-shirt and leather jacket. The pattern is familiar, but her genius lies in that she has been able to give each of the five protagonists she has drawn from this mythic model a unique voice and a unique story." Campbell also commented on the "drive and the wry sweetness and authenticity" of the authorial voice, concluding that "Hinton continues to grow in strength as a young adult novelist." A Kirkus Reviews contributor also found much to praise in the novel, remarking that "Hinton continues to grow more reflective in her books, but her great understanding, not of what teen-agers are but of what they can hope to be, is undiminished."

In addition to writing for teens, Hinton has also produced two books for younger readers. Big David, Little David is a picture book based on a joke Hinton and her husband played on their son Nick when the boy was entering kindergarten. In the book, a boy named Nick wonders if a classmate who resembles his father and has the same name could possibly be the same person as his father. Another title inspired by her son is The Puppy Sister, about a sibling rivalry between a puppy and an only child, a situation complicated when the puppy slowly changes into a human sister. Praising the book, a Publishers Weekly contributor dubbed The Puppy Sister an "irresistible fantasy" that presents "a unique, consistently witty account of growing pains."

In 2004 Hinton also experimented with the adult novel genre, producing Hawkes Harbor. Although it features a teen protagonist, the novel speaks to a more mature readership due to the elements of sexuality included in its plot; nonetheless, this story of an orphaned man named Jamie Sommers who slowly recalls his enslavement by a vampire boss when he is admitted to a mental ward. Described as "a dark, funny, scary, suspenseful tale" by a Publishers Weekly contributor, Hawkes Harbor was viewed as a good choice for Anne Rice fans, although Booklist critic Jennifer Mattson noted that in Hinton's plot "sentimentality frequently wells up along side the elements of parody."

Other than her infrequent publications, in more recent years Hinton has focused on family, and on her hobby of horseback riding. "I don't think I have a masterpiece in me," she once told Smith in the Los Angeles Times, "but I do know I'm writing well in the area I choose to write in. I understand kids and I really like them. And I have a very good memory. I remember exactly what it was like to be a teenager that nobody listened to or paid attention to or wanted around."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Children's Literature Review, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 3, 1978, Volume 23, 1991.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 30, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1984.

Daly, Jay, Presenting S. E. Hinton, Twayne, 1987.

De Montreville, Doris, and Elizabeth J. Crawford, editors, Fourth Book of Junior Authors, H. W. Wilson (Bronx, NY), 1978, p. 176.

St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999, pp. 454-455.

Wilson, Antoine, S. E. Hinton, Rosen (New York, NY), 2003.

PERIODICALS

American Film, April, 1983.

Atlantic Monthly, December, 1967, Nat Hentoff, review of The Outsiders.

Booklist, April 1, 1994, p. 1463; October 15, 1994, p. 413; January 15, 1995, p. 936; June 1, 1995, p. 1760; August, 2004, Jennifer Mattson, review of Hawkes Harbor, p. 1871.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 1995, p. 200; November, 1995, p. 92.

English Journal, September, 1989, p. 86.

Growing Point, May, 1976, Margery Fisher, review of Rumble Fish, p. 2894; May, 1980, Margery Fisher, review of Tex, pp. 3686-3687.

Horn Book, August, 1967, Jane Manthorne, review of The Outsiders, p. 475; July-August, 1971, Sheryl B. Andrews, review of That Was Then, This Is Now, p. 338; November-December, 1975, Anita Silvey, review of Rumble Fish, p. 601; January-February, 1989, Nancy Vasilakis, review of Taming the Star Runner, pp. 78-79.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1988, review of Taming the Star Runner, p. 1241; July 15, 2004, review of Hawkes Harbor, p. 648.

Library Journal, June 15, 1971, Brooke Anson, review of That Was Then, This Is Now, p. 2138.

Los Angeles Times, July 15, 1982, Dave Smith, "Hinton, What Boys Are Made Of."

Nation, March 8, 1986, Michael Malone, "Tough Puppies," pp. 276-278, 280.

Newsweek, October 11, 1982, Gene Lyons, "On Tulsa's Mean Streets," pp. 105-106.

New York Times Book Review, May 7, 1967, Thomas Fleming, review of The Outsiders, pp. 10-12; August 27, 1967, pp. 26-29; August 8, 1971, Michael Cart, review of That Was Then, This Is Now, p. 8; April 2, 1989, Patty Campbell, review of Taming the Star Runner, p. 26; November 19, 1995, p. 37; November 16, 1997, p. 26.

Publishers Weekly, July 28, 1975, review of Rumble Fish, p. 122; December 12, 1994, p. 62; July 17, 1995, review of The Puppy Sister, p. 230; July 28, 1997, p. 77; August 9, 2004, review of Hawkes Harbor, p. 230.

Quill & Quire, April, 1995, p. 37.

School Library Journal, May 15, 1967, Lillian N. Gerhardt, review of The Outsiders, pp. 2028-2029; October, 1975, Jane Abramson, review of Rumble Fish, p. 106; November, 1979, Marilyn Kaye, review of Tex, p. 88; December, 1993, p. 70; April, 1995, p. 102; October, 1995, p. 104; May, 1996, p. 76.

Seventeen, October, 1967, "Face to Face with a Teen-age Novelist."

Signal, May, 1980, pp. 120-122.

Times Literary Supplement, October 30, 1970, review of The Outsiders.

Tulsa Daily World, April 7, 1967, Yvonne Litchfield, "Her Book to Be Published Soon, but Tulsa Teen-Ager Keeps Cool," p. 20.

University of Tulsa Annual, 1983-84, Linda Plemons, "Author Laureate of Adolescent Fiction," p. 62.

Washington Post Book World, February 12, 1989.

Writing!, January, 2004, Daniel Paul, "Like Brothers until Things Changed: In That Was Then, This Is Now, S. E. Hinton Explores a Complex Relationship," p. 15.

ONLINE

S. E. Hinton Home Page, http://www.sehinton.com (May 3, 2005).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Hinton, S(usan) E(loise) 1950-." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Hinton, S(usan) E(loise) 1950-." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 10, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/hinton-susan-eloise-1950

"Hinton, S(usan) E(loise) 1950-." Something About the Author. . Retrieved September 10, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/children/scholarly-magazines/hinton-susan-eloise-1950

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Hinton, S. E.

S. E. Hinton

Born: 1950
Tulsa, Oklahoma

American author

Often considered the most successful novelist for the junior high and high school audience, S. E. Hinton is credited with creating realistic young adult literature. Her career began with the publication of her first book, The Outsiders (1967), at the age of seventeen.

Childhood and teenage novelist

Susan Eloise Hinton was born on July 22, 1950, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Remarking that there was little to do for a child growing up in Tulsa, Hinton turned to reading and writing at a very early age. The shy girl also had dreams of becoming a cattle rancher, until she abandoned this desire for a writing career.

As a teenager in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Hinton developed her love of literature but often found her options limited and boring. While she was a junior in high school, Hinton's father was diagnosed with cancer, a terrible and often fatal disease. To help her deal with her father's condition, Hinton turned to writing. During this time, Hinton completed a book she called The Outsiders.

Popularity of The Outsiders

Based on events that occurred in her high school in Tulsa, The Outsiders describes the rivalry between two gangs, the lower-middle-class "greasers" and the upper-class "socs" (for Socials), a conflict that leads to the deaths of members of both gangs. Narrated by fourteen-year-old Ponyboy, a sensitive, orphaned greaser who tells the story in retrospect (after the events occurred), The Outsiders explores the friendship, loyalty, and affection that lie behind the gang mystique while pointing out both the similarities in the feelings of the opposing groups and the uselessness of gang violence. Through his encounters with death, Ponyboy learns that he does not have to remain an outsider.

Initially regarded as controversial for its portrayal of rebellious youth, the novel is now recognized as a classic of juvenile literature as well as a unique accomplishment for so young a writer. The Outsiders was a major success among teenagers, selling more than four million copies in the United States alone. The book's popularity enabled Hinton to attend the University of Tulsa, where in 1970 she earned an education degree and met her future husband, David Inhofe. However, gaining fame and fortune at eighteen was not without problemsHinton had writer's block for several years.

Further novels

Eventually, however, Hinton produced a second novel, That Was Then, This Is Now (1971), a tale of two foster brothers, Bryon and Mark, who are drifting apart. One becomes more involved in school and girlfriends, the other moves deeper into a career of crime and drugs. In Rumble Fish (1975), Hinton continued to explore the themes of gang violence and growing up. In this story a bitter young man, in a struggle to acquire a tough reputation, gradually loses everything meaningful to him. Hinton's next book, Tex (1979), which follows two brothers left in each other's care by their rambling father, likewise investigates how delinquent youths try to make it in a world shaped by protest, drugs, violence, and family disruption.

Movies

Hinton spent the ten-year interval between Tex and her next novel, Taming the Star Runner (1986), advising on the sets of several film adaptations of her books and starting a family. She also wrote the screenplay for the feature film version of Rumble Fish with director Francis Ford Coppola. In 1988 Hinton received the first Young Adult Services Division/ School Library Journal Author Award from the American Library Association.

Hinton has not produced as much work as other young adult novelists, but that has not prevented her from becoming a consistent favorite with her audience. Two of the movies adapted from her books, Tex and The Outsiders, were filmed in response to suggestions from young readers.

Even though she is no longer a teenager involved in the world about which she writes, Hinton believes that she is suited to writing adolescent fiction: "I don't think I have a masterpiece in me, but I do know I'm writing well in the area I choose to write in," she commented to Dave Smith of the Los Angeles Times. "I understand kids and I really like them. And I have a very good memory. I remember exactly what it was like to be a teenager that nobody listened to or paid attention to or wanted around. I mean, it wasn't like that with my own family, but I knew a lot of kids like that and hung around with them. Somehow I always understood them. They were my type."

In 1995 Hinton published two books for younger readers, Puppy Sister and Big David, Little David, her first picture book. The intensely private Hinton lives in northern California with her husband and son, Nicholas David.

For More Information

Daly, Jay. Presenting S. E. Hinton. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987.

Wilson, Antoine. S. E. Hinton. New York: Rosen Pub. Group, 2002.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Hinton, S. E.." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Hinton, S. E.." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 10, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hinton-s-e

"Hinton, S. E.." UXL Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved September 10, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hinton-s-e

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Susan Eloise Hinton

Susan Eloise Hinton

Often considered the most successful novelist for the junior high and high school audience, Hinton is credited with creating the genre of realistic young adult literature with the publication of her first book, The Outsiders (1967), at the age of seventeen.

Although not a prolific author, she is acclaimed for writing powerful and insightful fiction about adolescent males in hostile social environments. Her works are often acknowledged for their authenticity, candor, and appeal to young adults, especially teenage boys. Although her books include topical elements such as gang violence and drug abuse, Hinton focuses more on character and theme, an attribute praised for contributing to the universality of her works.

As a teenager in Tulsa, Oklahoma, S. E. Hinton enjoyed reading but often found her options limited: "A lot of adult literature was older than I was ready for. The kids' books were all Mary Jane-Goes-to-the-Prom junk. I wrote The Outsiders so I'd have something to read." Based on events that occurred in her high school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the novel describes the rivalry between two gangs, the lower-middle-class greasers and the upper-class Socs (for Socials), a conflict that leads to the deaths of members of both gangs. Narrated by fourteen-year-old Ponyboy, a sensitive, orphaned greaser who tells the story in retrospect, The Outsiders explores the camaraderie, loyalty, and affection that lie behind the gang mystique while pointing out both the likenesses in the feelings of the opposing groups and the futility of gang violence; through his encounters with death, Ponyboy learns that he does not have to remain an outsider. Initially regarded as controversial for its unflinching portrayal of disaffected youth, the novel is now recognized as a classic of juvenile literature as well as a unique accomplishment for so young a writer.

The Outsiders was a major success among teenagers, selling more than four million copies in the United States. The book's popularity enabled Hinton to attend the University of Tulsa, where in 1970 she earned an education degree and met her future husband, David Inhofe. However, being catapulted into fame and fortune at eighteen was not without problems; Hinton had a writer's block for several years. "I couldn't even write a letter. All these people were going, 'Oh, look at this teenage writer' and you think, God, they're expecting a masterpiece and I haven't got a masterpiece."

Eventually, however, Hinton produced a second novel, That Was Then, This Is Now (1971), a tale of two foster brothers, Bryon and Mark, who are moving apart; as one becomes more involved in school and girlfriends, the other moves deeper into a career of crime and drugs. In Rumble Fish (1975), Hinton continued exploring the themes of gang violence and growing up in the story of a disillusioned young man who, in a struggle to acquire a tough reputation, gradually loses everything meaningful to him. Hinton's next book, Tex (1979), which follows two brothers left in each other's care by their rambling father, likewise investigates how delinquent youths try to make it in a world shaped by protest, drugs, violence, and family disruption. Taming the Star Runner (1988) tells of a fifteen-year-old's self-discovery during a summer spent on his uncle's horse ranch.

In each of her books, Hinton depicts the survival and maturation of her adolescent male protagonists, tough yet tender lower-class boys who live in and around Tulsa and who grow by making difficult decisions. Using a prose style noted initially for its urgency but more recently for its more controlled, mature quality, Hinton addresses such themes as appearance versus reality, the need to be loved and to belong, the meaning of honor, and the limits of friendship. Underlying Hinton's works is her depiction of society as a claustrophobic and often fatal environment that contributes to the fear and hostility felt by her characters. Although she has been accused of sexism for inadequately developing several of the young women in her books, Hinton is often praised for the overall superiority of her characterizations and for her sensitivity toward the feelings and needs of the young. She has also written the screenplay for the feature film version of Rumble Fish with Francis Ford Coppola. In 1988, Hinton received the first Young Adult Services Division/ School Library Journal Author Award from the American Library Association.

Further Reading

Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Volume 2, Gale, 1989, pp. 65-76.

Children's Literature Review, Gale, Volume 3, 1978, Volume 23, 1991.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 30, Gale, 1984.

Daly, Jay, Presenting S. E. Hinton, Twayne, 1987.

American Film, April, 1983.

Book World, May 9, 1971.

Children's Book Review, December, 1971. □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Susan Eloise Hinton." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Susan Eloise Hinton." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 10, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/susan-eloise-hinton

"Susan Eloise Hinton." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved September 10, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/susan-eloise-hinton

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Hinton, S(usan) E(loise) 1950-

HINTON, S(usan) E(loise) 1950-

PERSONAL: Born 1950, in Tulsa, OK; married David E. Inhofe (in mail order business), September, 1970; children: Nicholas David. Education: University of Tulsa, B.S., 1970.

ADDRESSES: Home—Tulsa, OK. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Tor Books, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Writer. Consultant on film adaptations of her novels; minor acting roles in some film adaptations of her novels.

AWARDS, HONORS: New York Herald Tribune best teenage books citation, 1967, Chicago Tribune Book World Spring Book Festival Honor Book, 1967, Media & Methods Maxi Award, American Library Association (ALA) Best Young Adult Books citation, both 1975, and Massachusetts Children's Book Award, 1979, all for The Outsiders; ALA Best Books for Young Adults citation, 1971, Chicago Tribune Book World Spring Book Festival Award Honor Book, 1971, and Massachusetts Children's Book Award, 1978, all for That Was Then, This Is Now; ALA Best Books for Young Adults citation, 1975, School Library Journal Best Books of the Year citation, 1975, and Land of Enchantment Book Award, New Mexico Library Association, 1982, all for Rumble Fish; ALA Best Books for Young Adults citation, 1979, School Library Journal Best Books of the Year citation, 1979, New York Public Library Books for the Teen-Age citation, 1980, American Book Award nomination for children's paperback, 1981, Sue Hefly Award Honor Book, Louisiana Association of School Libraries, 1982, California Young Reader Medal nomination, California Reading Association, 1982, and Sue Hefly Award, 1983, all for Tex; Golden Archer Award, 1983; Recipient of first ALA Young Adult Services Division/School Library Journal Margaret A. Edwards Award, 1988, for body of work.

WRITINGS:

YOUNG ADULT NOVELS

The Outsiders, Viking (New York, NY), 1967.

That Was Then, This Is Now, illustrated by Hal Siegel, Viking (New York, NY), 1971.

Rumble Fish (also see below), Delacorte (New York, NY), 1975.

Tex, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1979.

Taming the Star Runner, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1988.

OTHER

(With Francis Ford Coppola) Rumble Fish (screenplay; adapted from her novel), Universal, 1983.

Big David, Little David (for children), illustrated by Alan Daniel, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1995.

The Puppy Sister (for children), illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1995.

Hawkes Harbor (for adults), Tor (New York, NY), 2004.

ADAPTATIONS: Film adaptations of Hinton's novels include Tex, starring Matt Dillon, Walt Disney Productions, 1982; The Outsiders, starring C. Thomas Howell and Matt Dillon, Warner Bros., 1983; and That Was Then, This Is Now, starring Emilio Estevez and Craig Sheffer, Paramount, 1985. The Outsiders was adapted as a television series by Fox-TV, 1990. Current Affairs and Mark Twain Media adapted The Outsiders and That Was Then, This Is Now as filmstrips with cassettes, both 1978. Rumble Fish was adapted as a record and cassette, Viking, 1977.

SIDELIGHTS: Ponyboy. Greasers vs. Socs. For millions of fans around the world, these few words will instantly call up the world of The Outsiders, S. E. Hinton's classic novel about teen gangs and the troubled process of fitting in. Since publication of this first novel in 1967, "the world of young adult writing and publishing [has] never [been] the same," according to Jay Daly in the critical study, Presenting S. E. Hinton. Daly went on to note that "The Outsiders has become the most successful, and the most emulated, young adult book of all time." Ironically, this quiet revolution in book writing and publishing was wrought by a seventeen-year-old girl, who by all rights should have been one of the intended readers of the novel, not its author.

Hinton is credited with revolutionizing the young adult genre by portraying teenagers realistically rather than formulaically and by creating characters, settings, and dialogue that are representative of teenage life in America. The Outsiders was the first in her short but impressive list of books to feature troubled but sensitive male adolescents as protagonists. Hinton's subjects include social-class rivalry, poverty, alcoholism, drug addiction, and the cruelty teenagers often inflict on each other and on themselves. Film rights to all five of her novels have been acquired, and four have been adapted as major motion pictures.

Hinton was a high school sophomore at Tulsa's Will Rogers High School when she began writing The Outsiders. At the time she had not the slightest dream in the world that her manuscript would be published, let alone that it would sell millions of copies worldwide, spawn a motion picture, and start a trend in publishing toward gritty realism for younger readers. At the time, young Susie was simply working out private concerns. Firstly, she was reacting to divisions apparent in her own high school, and secondly, she was filling a void in subject matter that she herself wanted to read. At the time when Hinton began writing, young adult titles were mostly pure as corn and sweetly innocent; tales in which the major problem was which dress to wear to the prom or whether such-and-such a boy would be the date. "Into this sterile chiffon-and-orchids environment then came The Outsiders," observed Daly. "Nobody worries about the prom in The Outsiders; they're more concerned with just staying alive till June."

If Hinton turned the world of publishing upside down with her youthful title, its publication did the same for her life. As word of mouth slowly made the book a classic (it now has eight million copies in print), Hinton was attempting to develop a normal life, studying education at the University of Tulsa, marrying, and having a family. Writing block settled in and it was four years before her second title, That Was Then, This Is Now, came out, another edgy story of teen angst. Two further books were published in four-year intervals: Rumble Fish in 1975, and Tex in 1979. Then nearly a decade passed before publication of her fifth YA title, Taming the Star Runner. Since that time, Hinton has published two titles for younger readers. Small in output, Hinton has nonetheless made a major impact on children's literature, a fact confirmed by the 1988 presentation to her of the first annual Margaret A. Edwards Award for career achievement.

Hinton was born in 1948, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but little more is known about her early years, as Hinton herself is a very private person. Indeed, confusion reins around aspects of her life, such as her year of birth as well as her inspiration for beginning to write. What is known is that she grew up a voluntary tomboy in love with horses. That passion has not diminished over the years, and Hinton is still an avid horsewoman. She was able to use her horse lore in the novel, Taming the Star Runner. Hinton's tomboy status also brought her closer to male friends than female. She identified more with active males than with the passive role females of the day were encouraged to project.

A self-confessed outsider as a youngster, Hinton did not belong to any one clique in school, but was friends with a wide variety of types. Along with horses Hinton also developed an early love of reading. Her first writing efforts dealt with horses, and her stories were generally told from a boy's point of view. By the time she reached high school, she was ready to tackle a larger subject, namely the rivalry between two groups in the school, the "greasers" and the affluent "socs" (short for "socials"). "I felt the greasers were getting knocked when they didn't deserve it," Hinton told an interviewer for Seventeen shortly after publication of her novel. "The custom for instance, of driving by a shabby boy and screaming 'Greaser!' at him always made me boil. But it was the cold-blooded beating of a friend of mine that gave me the idea of writing a book."

Hinton began the writing in her sophomore year, during the time her father, Grady P. Hinton, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. As Daly put it, "It is not something she talks about, but one gets the impression that his hospitalization, and the inevitable, unavoidable conclusion that his illness promised, were factors in her withdrawing into herself." While her mother spent more and more time at the hospital, Hinton spent more time in her room or at the dining room table working on her novel. "Susie was very close to her father," Hinton's mother told Yvonne Litchfield of Tulsa Daily World, "and I noticed that the sicker he became the harder she worked." Hinton's father died in her junior year, about the time she completed her book.

Hinton worked through four drafts of her story before she was happy with it, but still she gave no thought to publication until the mother of one of her school friends—a professional children's writer—took a look at the manuscript. This reader immediately saw commercial possibilities for the book and urged Hinton to get in touch with her own New York agent. The Oklahoma teenager did just that, and the rest is publishing history.

Hinton's novel was, as Hinton myth has it, accepted for publication the night of her high school graduation, and it appeared in bookstores the spring of her freshman year at college at the University of Tulsa. As the book was written from the male perspective, Hinton's publisher, Viking, prompted her to adapt the more genderless author name of S. E. Hinton. Such a publication was an enormous gamble for a prestigious New York house, but Hinton's book was no overnight success. Slowly and by word of mouth sales grew and continued growing. Letters started arriving at the Hinton household from teenagers all over the country confessing that they never imagined somebody else felt like they did, that they were solaced by the fact that others felt like outsiders just as they did. It was soon apparent that Hinton had touched a raw nerve in American culture.

Hinton's novel deals with a matter of days in the lives of a small group of Tulsa teenagers, loosely modeled after Hinton's own classmates. The book begins and ends with the same lines: "When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home." In fact the entire book is a composition that the narrator, Ponyboy Curtis, must complete for English class. Trailed home from the movie by a group of Socs (pronounced "soshes" for Socials), Ponyboy is jumped by these rivals, and is saved by his older brothers, Darry and Sodapop, along with other members of his gang, the greasers. These others include the tough guy, Dallas Winston, and the joker who carries a switchblade, Two-Bit Matthews.

Later that night, Ponyboy, Dallas, and another gang member, Johnny, sneak into the drive-in and meet up with two Socs girls, Cherry and Marcia. Confronted after the movie by more Socs, led by Bob Sheldon, their most dangerous fighter, Cherry avoids an altercation by leaving with the Socs. Ruminating about their situation in a vacant lot, Ponyboy and Johnny fall asleep and by the time Ponyboy gets home, he has a run-in with Darry, who has been waiting up for him. Orphaned, the three brothers take care of each other. But Ponyboy has had enough, and decides to run away. Heading off with Johnny, they get only as far as the park before Sheldon and the Socs meet up with them again. In the ensuing fight, Johnny kills Sheldon with a knife.

Heading out is not merely optional now, but vital. Dallas tells the duo of a church hideout in a nearby town, and for the next five days they hole up, reading Gone with the Wind, talking about the Robert Frost poem, "Nothing Gold Can Stay," appreciating sunsets and dawns, and munching on baloney sandwiches. When Dally, or Dallas, comes to visit, Johnny says he's through with running; he's going to turn himself in. On the way home, they go by the church and see that it is burning. Perhaps this is a result of the cigarettes they left inside, but whatever the cause they know that children are trapped inside. Without thinking, both Ponyboy and Johnny rush inside to save them. Though they rescue the children, Johnny is badly hurt when a timber falls on his back. Ponyboy and Dallas are also both badly burned.

Cast in the uncommon role of hero, Ponyboy goes to visit Johnny in critical condition at the hospital. Later that evening there is a big rumble between rival gangs, and even the injured Dallas shows up. Victorious, the greasers are jubilant, and Ponyboy and Dallas rush to the hospital to tell Johnny, only to discover him near death. With his dying words, Johnny tells Ponyboy to "Stay gold," referring to the Frost poem about youth and lost innocence. Johnny's death pushes the edgy Dallas over the line. He robs a grocery store and goes down in a hail of police bullets, an unloaded gun in his hands, his death a rather blindly foolish martyrdom.

Suffering from a concussion incurred at the big rumble, Ponyboy collapses, confined to bed for days. He gets it in his head that he killed Sheldon, not Johnny, and is set to confess at the hearing about the death, but he is acquitted before he has a chance to confess. He remains numb inside, until he discovers another exhortation from Johnny to stay gold, this time in a note left in their copy of Gone with the Wind. This breaks through to him and he picks up his pen to start his term paper, writing the first lines of the novel once again.

Critical reception of this publishing phenomenon was mostly laudatory; those with reservations mostly found the book erred on the side of over-sentimentality and cliched writing. "Can sincerity overcome cliches?" asked Thomas Fleming in New York Times Book Review. Fleming answered his own question mostly in the positing: "In this book by a now 17-year-old author, it almost does the trick. By almost any standard, Miss Hinton's performance is impressive." Fleming's view was reflected by other reviewers, both then and now. Writing in Horn Book, Jane Manthorne called Hinton's work a "remarkable novel . . . a moving, credible view of the outsiders from inside." Lillian N. Gerhardt, reviewing the novel in School Library Journal, drew attention to the rare fact in juvenile novels of "confronting the class hostilities which have intensified since the Depression." Gerhardt noted that "Ponyboy . . . tells how it looks and feels from the wrong side of the tracks." Reviewing the book in Atlantic Monthly, Nat Hentoff lamented the sometimes "factitious" plot, but declared that Hinton, "with an astute ear and a lively sense of the restless rhythms of the young, also explores the tenacious loyalties on both sides of the class divide." Hentoff concluded that the book was so popular among the young "because it stimulates their own feelings and questionings about class and differing life-styles." A reviewer for Times Literary Supplement cut to the chase when noting that it was largely irrelevant whether adult reviewers found the novel dull, contrived, over-sentimentalized, too violent, or just plain implausible. "Young readers will waive literary discrimination about a book of this kind and adopt Ponyboy as a kind of folk hero for both his exploits and his dialogue," the reviewer concluded.

In the event, this critic was dead on. Once word of mouth was established regarding the youth and gender of the writer of The Outsiders, sales continued to grow and grow. It was apparent that Hinton and Viking had struck an entirely untapped readership; young kids aching for their stories to be told from their point of view with their voice. Little matter that Hinton's supposed stark realism was really "mythic" as the critic Michael Malone pointed out in an extended piece on the author in Nation. "Far from strikingly realistic in literary form," Malone remarked, "[Hinton's] novels are romances, mythologizing the tragic beauty of violent youth." Malone and others have rightly pointed out that the vast majority of teenagers personally experience nothing close to the violence of Hinton's characters, nor do they suffer the vacuum of parental supervision of her Peter Pan-like cast of orphans and near orphans who must look after themselves or watch out that alcoholic, abusive parents do not do them harm.

Never mind, either, the fact of Hinton's sometimes "mawkish and ornate" prose, according to Malone, who noted that Ponyboy "fling[s] adjectives and archaic phrases ('Hence his name,' 'Heaven forbid') around like Barbara Cartland." Ponyboy, through whose eyes the action is viewed, describes characters with an elevated language that is often inappropriate to his spoken thought; he is also prone to quoting Frost. But never mind any of this; Ponyboy and his cast of friends and foes alike are romantic representations, not the viscerally realistic depictions they are usually labeled. Gene Lyons, writing in Newsweek, stated, "The appeal of Hinton's novels is obvious. . . . The narrator-hero of each is a tough-tender 14-to 16-year-old loner making his perilous way through a violent, caste-ridden world almost depopulated of grownups. 'It's a kid's fantasy not to have adults around,' says Hinton. While recklessness generally gets punished, her books are never moralistic—all manner of parental rules are broken with impunity."

Royalties from The Outsiders helped to finance Hinton's education at the University of Tulsa where she studied education and where she met her husband, David Inhofe. But for several years Hinton suffered from writer's block so severe that, as she told Carol Wallace in Daily News, she "couldn't even write a letter." In an interview with Linda Plemons in University of Tulsa Annual, Hinton confessed that "I couldn't write. I taught myself to type in the sixth grade, and I couldn't even type or use my typewriter to write a letter. Things were pretty bad because I also went to college and started reading good writers and I thought, 'Oh, no.' I read The Outsiders again when I was 20, and I thought it was the worst piece of trash I'd ever seen. I magnified all its faults."

Finally, after she decided that teaching was not for her, and with encouragement from Inhofe, Hinton sat down to write a second novel. Setting herself the goal of two pages a day, Hinton had, after a few months, a rough draft of the novel, That Was Then, This Is Now. Once again Hinton sets her action in the same Tulsa-like surroundings, and focuses on an orphan, Mark, who has lived with the narrator, Bryon, and Bryon's mother since his own parents killed each other in a fight. It is now over a year since the ending of The Outsiders, and the old gang and social rivalries are not as clear-cut as they once were. The days of hippies are at hand; drugs are part of the teen landscape. One of the characters, M&M, is a proto-hippy whose LSD overdose tips the balances between Bryon and Mark. No angel himself, Bryon turns in his foster brother for supplying M&M with drugs. There is gang violence aplenty, teens on the prowl and on their own—Ponyboy Curtis even makes an appearance. Overall the book is more disciplined than Hinton's first title, but as Daly and other critics pointed out, "it lacks something." For Daly, it was the inspirational "spark" missing that kept it from breathing true life as had The Outsiders.

Other reviewers, however, found Hinton's second novel a moving and heartfelt cry from yet another teenager in pain. For Michael Cart, writing in New York Times Book Review, Bryon's struggles with his future and with those he loves form the core of the book. "The phrase, 'if only' is perhaps the most bittersweet in the language," Cart noted, "and Miss Hinton uses it skillfully to underline her theme: growth can be a dangerous process." Though Cart had problems with Bryon's ultimate "life-denying self-pity," turning against his love and life, he concluded that Hinton created "a mature, disciplined novel, which excites a response in the reader. Whatever its faults, her book will be hard to forget." Reviewing the novel in Library Journal, Brooke Anson remarked that the book was an "excellent, insightful mustering of the pressures on some teen-agers today, offering no slick solutions but not without hope, either." Horn Book's Sheryl B. Andrews found that this "disturbing" and "sometimes ugly" book "will speak directly to a large number of teen-agers and does have a place in the understanding of today's cultural problems." Selected a Best Books for Young Adults in 1971, That Was Then, This Is Now confirmed Hinton as more than a one-book author. Another four years passed between publication of That Was Then, This Is Now and Hinton's third novel, Rumble Fish. Hinton's narrator, Rusty-James, is another classic sensitive outsider type, who begins his narrative with the blunt declaration: "I was hanging out at Benny's, playing pool, when I heard Biff Wilcox was looking to kill me." Rusty-James's older brother, Motorcycle Boy, something of a Dallas Winston clone, meets a violent death in the novel, echoes of Dallas's demise in The Outsiders. And like Hinton's other novels, Rumble Fish takes place in compressed time, focusing on incidents which change the life of the narrator forever. Dubbed Hinton's "most ambitious" novel by Geoff Fox and George Walsh, writing in St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, the novel deals with Rusty-James's attempts to make some meaning of life after the passing of the gang conflicts that made his brother such a hero. Now, however, Motorcycle Boy is disenchanted, without hope, and virtually commits suicide, gunned down breaking into a pet store. By the end of the novel Rusty-James is left on his own, having lost his brother, his reputation, and his girl, and is without direction. As Jane Abramson noted in School Library Journal, "it is Rusty-James, emotionally burnt out at 14, who is the ultimate victim." Abramson concluded that the "[s]tylistically superb" Rumble Fish "packs a punch that will leave readers of any age reeling."

Some reviewers, such as Anita Silvey in Horn Book, found the novel unsatisfying and Hinton's further writing potential "unpromising." However, Rumble Fish did have admirers both in the United States and abroad. A Publishers Weekly contributor declared that "Ms. Hinton is a brilliant novelist," and Margery Fisher, writing in Growing Point, commented that "once more is the American urban scene in a book as uncompromising in its view of life as it is disciplined." While others complained of too blatant symbolism in the form of Motorcycle Boy and the fighting fish that give the book its title, Fisher concluded that "Of the three striking books by this young author, Rumble Fish seems the most carefully structured and the most probing." Exploring themes from aloneness to biological necessity, Rumble Fish tackles large questions in a small package. As Daly concluded about this third novel, "In the end we respond to Rumble Fish in a much deeper way than we do to That Was Then, This Is Now. It's an emotional, almost a physical response, as opposed to the more rational, intellectual reaction that the other book prompted." Daly went on to note that despite its defects in too-obvious symbolism, it "works as a novel. . . . And there is a name usually given to this kind of success. It is called art."

Hinton herself noted that she had been reading a lot about color symbolism and mythology when writing Rumble Fish, and that such concerns crept into the writing of the novel, especially in the character of Motorcycle Boy, the alienated, colorblind gang member looking for meaning. Hinton begins with character, as she has often noted in interviews, but in Production Notes for Rumble Fish, the screenplay of which she co-wrote with Francis Ford Coppola, she remarked that the novel "was a hard book to write because Rusty-James is a simple person, yet the Motorcycle Boy is the most complex character I've ever created. And Rusty-James sees him one way, which is not right, and I had to make that clear. . . . It's about over-identifying with something which you can never understand, which is what Rusty-James is doing. The Motorcycle Boy can't identify with anything."

The standard four years passed again before publication of Hinton's fourth title, Tex, which was, according to Daly, "Hinton's most successful effort" to date. Once again the reader is on familiar ground with nearorphan protagonists, and troubled youths. With Tex, however, Hinton opts for a more sensitive and perhaps less troubled narrator than before. Tex McCormick is, as Hinton noted in Delacorte Press's notes from the author, "perhaps the most childlike character I've ever done, but the one who makes the biggest strides toward maturity. I have to admit he's a favorite child." Of course this was several years before the birth of Hinton's own son, Nick.

Another fourteen-year-old lacking parental supervision, Tex has his older brother Mason to look after him while their father is on the rodeo circuit. A story of relationships, Hinton's fourth title focuses on the two teenagers at a time when Mason has had to sell off the family horses to pay bills, as no money has come from their father. This includes Tex's own horse, Negrito. Straining already strained relations between the brothers, this loss of a favored animal sets the plot in motion. Tex tries to run off and find the animal. Neither his friend Johnny nor Johnny's sister Jamie (the romantic attachment) is able to talk Tex out of it, but Mason drags him home in the pickup. Johnny and Tex are forever getting in trouble and things get rougher between Mason and Tex by the time the two brothers are kidnapped by a hitchhiker (Mark from That Was Then, This Is Now, who has busted out of jail). Tex's presence of mind saves them, but gets Mark, the hitchhiker, killed by the police. Notoriety at this brings the father home, but disappointment follows when he fails to track down Negrito as he promised. More trouble—in company with Johnny and then with a former friend of Mason's who now deals drugs—lands Tex in the hospital with a bullet wound. He learns that his real father was another rodeo rider, gets a visit from Johnny and Jamie, and once recovered and reconciled with Mason, convinces his older brother that he should go on to college as he's wanted to. Tex tells him he's lined up a job working with horses and can take care of himself.

"Hinton's style has matured since she exploded onto the YA scene in 1967," noted Marilyn Kaye in a School Library Journal review of Tex. Kaye felt that Hinton's "raw energy . . . has not been tamed—its been cultivated." The outcome, said Kaye, "is a fine, solidly constructed, and well-paced story."Growing Point's Fisher once again had high praise for Hinton, concluding that "In this new book Susan Hinton has achieved that illusion of reality which any fiction writer aspires to and which few ever completely achieve."

Hinton's re-created reality was strong enough to lure Hollywood. Disney productions bought the rights to Tex, filming a faithful adaptation of the novel with young Matt Dillon in the lead role, and introducing actors Meg Tilly and Emilio Estevez. Shot in Tulsa, the movie production used Hinton as an advisor, introducing Dillon to her own horse, Toyota, which played the role of Negrito, and teaching the young actor how to ride. It was the beginning of a long and continuing friendship between Hinton and Dillon, who played in three of the four adaptations of her novels. The movie also started a trend of introducing young actors on their way up in her movies.

Next to get a film treatment was The Outsiders, though not from Disney this time but from Francis Ford Coppola of Godfather fame. Somewhat operatic in its effect, the movie cast Dillon as Dallas Winston, and also starred such future luminaries as Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, and Estevez. Coppola also filmed Rumble Fish, shooting it in black and white to resonate with Motorcycle Boy's color blindness. Once again Dillon starred, with Micky Rourke as Motorcycle Boy. Dennis Hopper, Tom Waits, and Nicolas Cage rounded out the cast. The script was co-written by Hinton and Coppola. In both the Coppola adaptations, Hinton played bit parts as well as worked closely as an advisor during production. However, with the fourth movie adaptation, from a screenplay by Estevez and starring him, Hinton remained on the sidelines. Thus, within a few short years—from 1982 to 1985—all of Hinton's novels were turned into movies and her popularity was at an all-time high, with movie sales driving up book sales. Hinton had the added plus in that her experience with movies was a very positive one. "I really have had a wonderful time and made some very good friends," Hinton told Dave Smith of Los Angeles Times regarding her work with Coppola. "Like a lot of authors, I'd heard the horror stories about how they buy the property and then want the author to disappear and not meddle around worrying about what they're doing to the book. But that didn't happen at all. They invited me in right from the start, and I helped with the screenplays."

Throughout the early 1980s, then, Hinton was busy with movie adaptations and with her son, born in 1983. It was not until 1988 that she brought out another novel, Taming the Star Runner. Earlier that year Hinton became the first recipient of the Young Adult Services Division/School Library Journal Author Achievement Award, otherwise known as the Margaret A. Edwards Award, for career achievement in YA literature. It had been nine years since publication of Tex; it was thus fitting that she would have a new title out after receiving such an award. Those first four books had a rough sort of unity to them: a portrayal of the difficult process of sorting through problems of alienation and belonging, with a kind of synthesis if not solution presented by the ending of Tex.

Taming the Star Runner, while dealing with some of the old themes, sets off in new directions. Hinton moves from first-to third-person narration in the story of fifteen-year-old Travis Harris who is sent off to his uncle's Oklahoma ranch in lieu of juvenile hall. He has nearly killed his stepfather with a fireplace poker, an attack not unprovoked by the abusive stepfather. What follows is the classic city boy-come-to-the-country motif. Unwillingly, Travis learns hard lessons on the ranch, but the change from urban to rural is not a Technicolor idyll. Travis arrives in the middle of his uncle's divorce, and the man is distant from him. He takes to hanging out at a barn on the property which is rented to Casey Kincaid, three years older than Travis and a horse trainer. She is in the process of taming the eponymous stallion, Star Runner. It is the relationship that grows between this unlikely pair that forms the heart of the book. Another major element—a tip of the hat to Hinton's own history—is the acceptance by a New York publisher of a book that young Travis has written. But there are no easy solutions: the stepfather refuses to give permission for publication, as he comes off less than noble in the pages of the manuscript. Finally Travis's mother stands up to the stepfather and signs permission for him. He has grown closer to Casey, as well as his uncle, but there are no completely happy endings for Hinton, either. Star Runner is killed in an electrical storm and Travis and his uncle are forced to move off the ranch to town, but he is now a published author and has made a real friend in Casey.

Reviews of the novel were largely positive. Nancy Vasilakis commented in Horn Book that it "has been generally agreed that no one can speak to the adolescent psyche the way S. E. Hinton can," and now with her fifth novel, Vasilakis felt that the author "hasn't lost her touch." In a lengthy critique in New York Times Book Review, Patty Campbell noted that "Hinton has produced another story of a tough young Galahad in black T-shirt and leather jacket. The pattern is familiar, but her genius lies in that she has been able to give each of the five protagonists she has drawn from this mythic model a unique voice and a unique story." Campbell also commented on the "drive and the wry sweetness and authenticity" of the authorial voice, concluding that "S. E. Hinton continues to grow in strength as a young adult novelist." A Kirkus Reviews contributor also found much to praise in the novel, remarking that "Hinton continues to grow more reflective in her books, but her great understanding, not of what teen-agers are but of what they can hope to be, is undiminished." Daly, in his critical study, Presenting S. E. Hinton, called this fifth novel "Hinton's most mature and accomplished work."

Since publication of Taming the Star Runner, Hinton's work has traveled light miles away from her cast of outsiders and bad boys. The year 1995 saw publication of two Hinton titles, both for younger readers. Big David, Little David is a picture book based on a joke she and her husband played on their son Nick when the boy was entering kindergarten. In the book, a boy named Nick wonders if a classmate who resembles his father and has the same name could possibly be the same person as his father. Another title inspired by her son is The Puppy Sister, about a sibling rivalry between a puppy and an only child, a situation complicated when the puppy slowly changes into a human sister.

Hinton has focused on family in recent years, and on her hobby of horseback riding. As she told James Sullivan in Book, "People think I've been sitting here in an ivory tower with minions or something. But I've been wandering around the Safeway wondering what to cook for dinner like everybody else." With her son in college, she has returned to writing. Hinton admitted to Sullivan, "For my writing to be any good, I have to be emotionally committed to it; for a long time, I was just emotionally committed to being a mother. I didn't have anything left over." Hinton published her first novel for adults, a horror/adventure story titled Hawkes Harbor, in 2004.

Hinton's books have over ten million copies in print; four of her five YA titles have been filmed; and Hinton still receives bushels of mail from enthusiastic fans for all her books, but especially for The Outsiders, now over three decades old, but with a message that continues to speak across the generations. As she told Smith in Los Angeles Times, "I understand kids and I really like them. And I have a very good memory. I remember exactly what it was like to be a teenager that nobody listened to or paid attention to or wanted around."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Characters in Young Adult Literature, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1997.

Children's Literature Review, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 3, 1978, Volume 23, 1991.

Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography Supplement: Modern Writers, 1900-1998, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 30, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1984.

Contemporary Popular Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1997.

Daly, Jay, Presenting S. E. Hinton, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1987.

Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.

Hinton, S. E., The Outsiders, Viking (New York, NY), 1967.

Hinton, S. E., Rumble Fish Production Notes, No Weather Films, 1983.

Karolides, Nicholas J., Lee Burress, and John M. Kean, editors, Censored Books: Critical Viewpoints, Scarecrow Press (Metuchen, NJ), 1993.

Literature and Its Times, Volume 5, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1997.

Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, 2nd edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002.

Novels for Students, Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 9, 2000, Volume 15, 2002, Volume 16, 2002.

St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

Stanek, Lou Willett, A Teacher's Guide to the Paperback Editions of the Novels of S. E. Hinton, Dell (New York, NY), 1980.

Writers for Young Adults, Charles Scribner's Sons (New York, NY), 1997.

PERIODICALS

American Film, April, 1983.

Atlantic Monthly, December, 1967, Nat Hentoff, review of The Outsiders.

Book, July-August, 2003, James Sullivan, "Where Are They Now?," pp. 34-41.

Booklist, April 1, 1994, p. 1463; October 15, 1994, p. 413; January 15, 1995, p. 936; June 1, 1995, p. 1760.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, February, 1995, p. 200; November, 1995, p. 92.

Daily News, September 26, 1982, Carol Wallace, "In Praise of Teenage Outcasts."

English Journal, September, 1989, p. 86.

Growing Point, May, 1976, Margery Fisher, review of Rumble Fish, p. 2894; May, 1980, Margery Fisher, review of Tex, pp. 3686-87.

Horn Book, August, 1967, Jane Manthorne, review of The Outsiders, p. 475; July-August, 1971, Sheryl B. Andrews, review of That Was Then, This Is Now, p. 338; November-December, 1975, Anita Silvey, review of Rumble Fish, p. 601; January-February, 1989, Nancy Vasilakis, review of Taming the Star Runner, pp. 78-79.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 1988, review of Taming the Star Runner, p. 1241.

Library Journal, June 15, 1971, Brooke Anson, review of That Was Then, This Is Now, p. 2138.

Los Angeles Times, July 15, 1982, Dave Smith, "Hinton, What Boys Are Made Of."

Nation, March 8, 1986, Michael Malone, "Tough Puppies," pp. 276-78, 280.

Newsweek, October 11, 1982, Gene Lyons, "On Tulsa's Mean Streets," pp. 105-106.

New York Times Book Review, May 7, 1967, Thomas Fleming, review of The Outsiders, sec. 2, pp. 10-12; August 27, 1967, pp. 26-29; August 8, 1971, Michael Cart, review of That Was Then, This Is Now, p. 8; April 2, 1989, Patty Campbell, review of Taming the Star Runner, p. 26; November 19, 1995, Susanna Rodell, review of The Puppy Sister, p. 37; November 16, 1997, p. 26.

Publishers Weekly, July 28, 1975, review of Rumble Fish, p. 122; December 12, 1994, p. 62; July 17, 1995, p. 230; July 28, 1997, p. 77.

Quill & Quire, April, 1995, p. 37.

School Library Journal, May 15, 1967, Lillian N. Gerhardt, review of The Outsiders, pp. 2028-29; October, 1975, Jane Abramson, review of Rumble Fish, p. 106; November, 1979, Marilyn Kaye, review of Tex, p. 88; December, 1993, p. 70; April, 1995, p. 102; October, 1995, p. 104; May, 1996, p. 76.

Seventeen, October, 1967, "Face to Face with a Teen-Age Novelist."

Signal, May, 1980, pp. 120-22.

Times Educational Supplement, March 10, 1989, Scott Bradfield, review of Taming the Star Runner, p. B14.

Times Literary Supplement, October 30, 1970, review of The Outsiders.

Tulsa Daily World, April 7, 1967, Yvonne Litchfield, "Her Book to Be Published Soon, But Tulsa Teen-Ager Keeps Cool," p. 20.

University of Tulsa Annual, 1983-84, Linda Plemons, "Author Laureate of Adolescent Fiction," p. 62.

Washington Post Book World, February 12, 1989.

ONLINE

S. E. Hinton Web site,http://www.sehinton.com (April 15, 2004).

Wired for Books Web site,http://wiredforbooks.org/sehinton/ (April 15, 2004), Don Swaim, "Audio Interview with S. E. Hinton."

OTHER

"S. E. Hinton: On Writing and Tex," publicity release from Delacorte Press, winter, 1979/spring, 1980.*

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Hinton, S(usan) E(loise) 1950-." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. . Encyclopedia.com. 10 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Hinton, S(usan) E(loise) 1950-." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 10, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/hinton-susan-eloise-1950

"Hinton, S(usan) E(loise) 1950-." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. . Retrieved September 10, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/hinton-susan-eloise-1950

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.