June 16, 1920
The Man Without a Face
“My books have always dealt with the relationship between the child or adolescent and the adult or adults who live in and dominate the young person's portrait of self,” Isabelle Holland said in Literature for Today's Young Adults. “In later years that child, become an adult, may be able to see that the first portrait was as much created by the prejudices, fears, anxieties and desires within the adult as within the child.”
Born in Basel, Switzerland, Holland is the daughter of a U.S. Foreign Service officer. She grew up in Guatemala and later lived in England, where she attended the University of Liverpool. She later went to Tulane University, Louisiana.
On the eve of World War II, her father sent Holland and her mother to the United States to live. In their new home, the author said, mother told her stories to amuse her, and this inspired her own interest in storytelling. Among her favorite books as a child were Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, the Winnie the Pooh books by A. A. Milne, the William books by Richard Crompton, and the David books by E. F. Benson.
Holland is noted for her Gothic mysteries and realistic young adult books, which at times have stirred controversy. Her books' characters are social outcasts—often young Americans abroad—and also neglected children and sexually curious children.