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Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Famed author S.E. Hinton built a literary and cinematic legacy that made her virtually synonymous with teen angst. Many of her professional decisions came at odds with what would be considered "normal" for an author, but none of these idiosyncrasies would diminish her enduring popularity among teen readers or the adoring memories of adults who grew up with her five young adult novels and their movie adaptations.Susan Eloise Hinton was born on July 22, 1950 (although her birth year varies from source to source) in Tulsa, OK - a city which would serve as the legendary backdrop for her most famous novels. As a young girl, she was no stranger to heart break, losing her mother when she was just a child, followed by her father of brain cancer when she was in her teens. Beginning in the third grade, Hinton found comfort in writing stories about cowboys and horses.At Will Rogers High School, Hinton began noticing first hand the ugliness between "Greasers" and "Socs" (society youths) after watching the brutal beating of a friend by other students. She began writing The Outsiders during her sophomore year. Although it would become her first published novel, it was actually her third novel, as she had written...

Famed author S.E. Hinton built a literary and cinematic legacy that made her virtually synonymous with teen angst. Many of her professional decisions came at odds with what would be considered "normal" for an author, but none of these idiosyncrasies would diminish her enduring popularity among teen readers or the adoring memories of adults who grew up with her five young adult novels and their movie adaptations.

Susan Eloise Hinton was born on July 22, 1950 (although her birth year varies from source to source) in Tulsa, OK - a city which would serve as the legendary backdrop for her most famous novels. As a young girl, she was no stranger to heart break, losing her mother when she was just a child, followed by her father of brain cancer when she was in her teens. Beginning in the third grade, Hinton found comfort in writing stories about cowboys and horses.

At Will Rogers High School, Hinton began noticing first hand the ugliness between "Greasers" and "Socs" (society youths) after watching the brutal beating of a friend by other students. She began writing The Outsiders during her sophomore year. Although it would become her first published novel, it was actually her third novel, as she had written two previously - neither of which were published - all before the tenth grade. It took Hinton only a year and a half to write The Outsiders (the same year she managed to earn a grade of 'D' in a Creative Writing class). She would later say of the class struggles, "The whole status thing drove me nuts - that people would get worked up over who they should and should not talk to in the hall." She got the call that her novel had been accepted for publication the day she graduated from high school.

Written with a teenaged, first person voice, The Outsiders was first published in 1967 to wide acclaim and popularity. Because her main characters (and those of most of her successive books) were male, and because the book dealt with masculine subjects like rumbles and fights, Hinton's publisher suggested she only use her initials, rather than her full name. They felt a female author could alienate some readers who might not trust that she would know anything about the subjects at hand. Furthermore, girls read "boy books" more frequently than the reverse. As Hinton later became a more private individual, she relished her ability to maintain separate public and private personae. And while she never became a recluse on the caliber of such famous authors as J.D. Salinger or Thomas Pynchon, Hinton did end up removing herself from the public eye, making few public appearances later on.

Following the publication of her first novel, Hinton went on to study teaching at the University of Tulsa, from which she graduated in 1970. At the time, her boyfriend David Inhofe pushed her to fight her writer's block, refusing to go out with her at night unless she wrote at least two pages of her Outsiders follow up during the day. She finished writing That Was Then, This Is Now in the summer of 1970, before marrying Inhofe shortly afterwards. The book was published the following year.

Hinton continued her leisurely career pace, publishing only two more young adult novels over the next ten years. Rumble Fish, published in 1975, was based on a short story she had written for the University of Tulsa alumni magazine literary supplement. It was her shortest novel and received critical reviews across the spectrum, but became popular among teen readers just as her previous works did. Hinton then published Tex in 1979.

With the arrival of the 1980s, Hinton's book writing dropped off, largely due to the birth of her son Nicholas in August of 1983. Nonetheless, fans of her work still found fresh takes on it, via the various film adaptations of her novels. The first three film adaptations of her work all were shot in Hinton's native Tulsa. She also enjoyed close working relationships with their directors, receiving cameo roles in each film. The first of the film adaptations, "Tex" (1982), was the last of her first four books to be published, but became the first to make its way to the silver screen. Directed by Tim Hunter, who would go on to a further success directing for TV, the film starred Matt Dillon and Emilio Estevez, both of whom made multiple appearances in later Hinton adaptations.

The following year, Francis Ford Coppola collaborated with Hinton to produce films based on "The Outsiders" (1983) and "Rumble Fish" (1983) back-to-back. The two were stylistically quite different, despite the proximity of their release dates. "The Outsiders" featured an ensemble cast of teen stars, many of whom went on to highly successful careers in Hollywood, including Dillon, Estevez, Ralph Macchio, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise and Patrick Swayze. It was also, by far, the most successful of the Hinton film adaptations. "Rumble Fish," for which Hinton shared a screenwriting credit with Coppola, was in many ways a throwback to a 1970s independent style of filmmaking, shot almost entirely in black and white and featuring a percussion-heavy jazz soundtrack.

Emilio Estevez made "That Was Then, This Is Now" (1985) something of a pet project. He wrote and starred in the film, which departed from the previous Hinton adaptations on more than one front. For starters, the film was shot in Minnesota verses the usual Tulsa, and Hinton was not as involved with the filmmaking process. Though seen as a lower quality adaptation and one that lacked the lasting popularity of other Hinton films, the "That was Then" was still a relative success at the box office.

The closing years of her most prosperous decade saw Hinton's return to novel writing, as well as an increase in recognition for her work. Taming the Star Runner, her last YA novel, was published in October 1988 and was the first to be written in third person, a change she ascribed to her absorption with child-rearing. That same year, Hinton became the first recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award, given for a body of work by the Young Adult Services Division of the American Library Association.

The year 1990 brought renewed life to Hinton's most famous work. Between March and May of that year, Fox showed a 14-episode TV version of "The Outsiders" (1990), executive produced by Coppola. Hinton was again involved in the process, credited as "series developer" and "executive consultant." The pilot episode was, at the time, the Fox network's highest rated show to date.

In 1995, Hinton again surprised readers when she moved away from young adult novels, instead releasing two books for children. Big David, Little David and The Puppy Sister both grew out of conversations she and her husband had with their son. The Puppy Sister also held the distinction of being Hinton's first book with a female (albeit canine) main character.

As her son Nick continued to grow older, Hinton focused her attention more on him and less on writing novels. Finally, in 2004, Hinton released her latest novel, Hawkes Harbor. Again, she surprised audiences and critics, this time by writing for an adult audience and unexpectedly shifting her subject matter to vampires. The book met with mixed critical reviews and sold moderately well.

Over the years, Hinton worked largely on her own terms, writing when and what she wanted. She voluntarily removed herself from the public eye, and made certain career choices that (consciously or not) alienated parts of her audience. But her early works remained timeless classics in their appeal. The Outsiders, listed as the second most popular children's book after E.B. White's Charlotte's Web, not only set the tone for her entire career, but also defined it as well.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Gardens Of Stone (1987)
2.
 Sweet Liberty (1986)
4.
7.
 D.C. Cop (1986)
8.
 Snafu (1976)
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