The 100 Most Popular Young Adult Authors: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies

By Bernard A. Drew | Go to book overview

M. E. Kerr

Teenage drama

Auburn, New York
May 27,1927

Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack!

Kids have written M. E. Kerr to tell her what they think of her work. One said that her name on a book means that “half the time they're good.” Another said his English class was forced to read her books.

“What more could a writer ask for than a captive audience?” Kerr asked, relating the anecdote in her autobiography, Me, Me, Me, Me, Me.

Kerr, whose real name is Marijane Agnes Meaker, was inspired to become a writer by both her parents. Her father, Ellis R. Meaker, who owned Ivanhoe Foods, a major producer of mayonnaise, was an avid reader of the classics. As a teenager, Kerr wrote stories using the pen name Eric Ranthram McKay, which had the same initials as her father's name. Her mother, who came from a German immigrant background, gave the budding writer a sense of drama in storytelling and an appreciation of ethnic and economic differences in people.

Kerr attended Vermont Junior College, where she edited the school newspaper. Her first short story was published there: “The Air and I,” about flying lessons. She later transferred to the University of Missouri and received a bachelor of arts degree there in 1949. Moving to New York City, she landed a job as an assistant with E. P. Dutton Publishing and continued writing in her spare time. She held several other jobs, including one with Fawcett Publications. When Ladies' Home Journal paid her $750 for a story she submitted under the name Laura Winston, Kerr was more determined than ever to become a full-time writer.

Fawcett published several novels by Kerr, issuing them under its Gold Medal imprint, beginning in 1952, under the name Vin

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