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E.L. Konigsburg, 'Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler' author, dies at 83

April 22, 2013|By Jenny Hendrix
  • E.L. Konigsburg, who twice won one the Newbery Medal, died at 83.
E.L. Konigsburg, who twice won one the Newbery Medal, died at 83. (Ron Kunzman / AP )

Award-winning children's author E.L. Konigsburg died Friday in Falls Church, Va., after suffering a stroke a week before, the Associated Press reported Sunday night.  She was 83 years old.

Konigsburg won the Newbery Medal twice -- for her 1997 book "The View From Saturday" and in 1968 for "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" -- one of only five other authors to do so. 

Her first book, "Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth," was a runner-up in 1968 -- bested by "Mrs. Frankenweiler" -- making her the only author ever to be winner and runner-up in the same year.

In awarding the prize in 1997, the Newbery committee called her story a "tour de force, characterized by good humor, positive relationships, distinctive personalities, and brilliant story-telling." All told, according to her family, Konigsburg wrote 16 children's novels and illustrated three books during her career. 

"Mrs. Frankenweiler" was adapted as a film in 1973 -- "The Hideaways" starred Ingrid Bergman in the story of an 11-year-old who hides out with her brother in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, sleeping on an exhibit and bathing in the water fountain when the museum has closed.  The role of Mrs. Frankenweiler was later taken on by Lauren Bacall for a TV movie.

Konigsberg was raised in Pennsylvania and attended Carnegie Mellon University, graduating with a degree in chemistry. Konigsburg stared writing and illustrating books for children when the youngest of her three sons began kindergarten. 

In 2004, she told the Dallas Morning News that she created her plots and characters by imagining what-if stories with her six grandchildren, her sons, and her students.  "I think most of us are outsiders," she said. "And I think that's good because it makes you question things. I think it makes you see things outside yourself." 

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