Beverly Cleary was born Beverly Atlee Bunn on April 12, 1916, in McMinnville, Oregon. She spent her early years on her father's farm in nearby Yamhill. But she later grew up in Portland, Oregon during the Depression. Tiring of the rainy climate and an overprotective mother, she moved to Southern California in 1934 at the age of 19 to attend Chaffey College.
Two years later, she transferred to the University of California, Berkeley. It was there that she met her husband, Clarence Cleary, during her junior year. Before they married in 1940, Beverly studied librarianship at the University of Washington in Seattle, and held the position of children's librarian in rural Yakima, Washington.
Although she had wanted to write for children since childhood, her writing was confined to letters and school assignments until she was in her early thirties. At that point she found herself with some spare time and a comfortable place to write. The outcome was Henry Huggins, which was accepted in 1950 by the first publisher who read it. The story centers on the adventures of a boy, his dog, and their friends who lived on Klickitat Street in Portland, a real street in the Irvington Neighborhood that was only a few blocks from where she lived as a child.
Cleary has since written over 30 books, selling more than 10 million copies. Her books are available in 15 languages in over 20 countries. Some of her other books include Beezus and Ramona, Strider, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Ramona Forever, Two Dog Biscuits, and Ramona's World. She also has written two autobiographies, A Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet.
Cleary has won numerous literary awards, including the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award and the prestigious Newbery Medal. Among other honors, Portland Public Schools renamed the merged Hollyrood Elementary and Fernwood Middle School as the new Beverly Cleary School in 2008.
While Cleary now resides in Carmel, California, she includes Portland, Oregon as one of her favorite places.
(Sources: Oregon Encyclopedia | www.BeverlyCleary.com)