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Robert Cormier was born in 1925, in Leominster, Massachusetts, where he would spend his whole life. As a boy he attended St. Celia's Parochial Grammar School, where he encountered nun after meanass nun. In eighth grade, he watched in horror from his classroom window as his own house caught fire and burned to the ground. His meanass teacher refused to let him out of class, to see if his family was safe, until he had said the requisite prayers. This incident enraged him for years afterward, and his anger toward wrongly-wielded authority would drive many of his books.

Not all the nuns sucked. One of them read his poetry and told him that he was a writer. He believed her, and began thinking of himself as one. Later, another teacher was so impressed with one of his stories that she submitted it to a magazine, without telling him, then showed up at his house with a check. It was a very small check, but it was a beginning. This was his first published work.

After college, Robert wrote commercials for a local radio station, and soon switched to newspaper work. He was a writer and editor at the Fitchburg Sentinel for 23 years. He later wrote short stories for magazines such as McCall's and the Saturday Evening Post.

Robert married in 1948, and, despite his crappy childhood experiences, he and his wife sent their four children to parochial school.

For thirty years, he'd worked as a newspaperman by day and written the "real stuff" by night. In the mid-70s, Robert became a full-time writer. He wrote three books which were moderately successful, but in 1974 he hit the big time with The Chocolate War, mostly because it was controversial. A lot of schools banned it, condemned it, and generally wet their pants over what is generally a pretty tame little book as far as bannability goes. Swearing + authority figures behaving despicably = ban it, NOW! Robert was surprised that the book became such a volatile force, but always shook it off in interviews.

Robert loved jazz, movies, and staying up late. He listed his heroes as Graham Greene, Thomas Wolfe, and J.D. Salinger.

In his 1977 novel I Am the Cheese, there's a scene where a boy calls a girl, and the phone number isn't one of those phony 555- jobs, it's a real number. Call it, and guess who answers? Up until last week, it was Robert Cormier.

He died last Thursday, November 2, 2000. He was a literary badass; he knew how to grab kids with words. His words will be missed.


"Happy endings are not our birthright. You have to do something to make them happen."

"The enemy is the blank page."

"A work of fiction, if true to itself, written honestly, will set off shocks of recognition in the sensitive reader, no matter what age that reader is. And I write for that reader."

"We all start out with the same alphabet. We are all unique."


8 Plus 1

After the First Death

Beyond the Chocolate War

The Bumblebee Flies Anyway

The Chocolate War


Frenchtown Summer


I Am the Cheese

I Have Words to Spend: Reflections of a Small-Town Editor

In the Middle of the Night

Mayflies: An Angler's Study of Trout Water

Now and at the Hour

Other Bells for Us to Ring

Take Me Where the Good Times Are


Tunes for Bears to Dance to

We All Fall Down

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