Lloyd Alexander Biography

Lloyd Alexander, born in 1924, American writer of fantasy novels for children. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Alexander attended West Chester State Teachers College in West Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1942; Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1943; and the Sorbonne in Paris in 1946. During World War II (1939-1945), he served in the United States armed forces, rising to the position of staff sergeant in military intelligence, and he was stationed for a time in Wales. After the war, he translated works by French writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, and wrote several books for adults before focusing his attention on writing books for children.

Alexander's most popular and acclaimed series of books, The Prydain Chronicles, is set in the imaginary Welsh kingdom of Prydain and reveals the author's fascination with mythology, especially Welsh mythology legends of King Arthur. The Book of Three (1964) introduces the series with the character Taran, a boy of unknown parentage who works as an assistant pig keeper and struggles against the Lord of Death. The Book of Three is followed in the series by The Black Cauldron (1965), a Newbery Honor Book, The Castle of Llyr (1966); and Taran Wanderer (1967). The final book, The High King (1968)—in which Taran achieves ultimate victory over the army of the dead—received the 1969 Newbery Medal.

The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian (1970; National Book Award, 1971) reflects Alexander's interest in music. In the book a young fiddler helps an orphaned princess escape marriage to a tyrannical king. Alexander wrote two other series of fantasy books: The Westmark Trilogy (1981-1984), chronicling the revolution besetting the imaginary land of Westmark; and The Vesper Holly Adventures (1986-1990), featuring the brave heroine Vesper Holly, who embarks on a number of fantastic adventures. Alexander's other writings include The Wizard in the Tree (1975), The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha (1978), The Fortune-Tellers (1992), The Arkadians (1995), and The House Gobbaleen (1995). He received the 1986 Regina Medal for lifetime achievement from the Catholic Library Association. Walt Disney Studios adapted The Black Cauldron into an animated motion picture in 1985.

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