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Friday Fun: Andre Norton, The Grand Dame of Sci-Fi

Good morning readers and welcome to the end of the week. With it still being womxn's history month and my love of history being what it is, today we are talking about another genre legacy: the late great Grand Dame of Sci Fi herself, Andre Norton.

Mary Shelley is often attributed as the founder of science fiction, her landmark novel Frankenstein being the first definitive work of the genre in the early 1800's. However, Shelley's novel was somewhat overshadowed by the editorial eye of her husband, who made several changes to subsequent editions. By the time Andre Norton appeared on the scene in the 1930's, Sci Fi was a well established genre, though it appealed to a larger male readership at the time.

Born Alice Mary Norton in 1912, she primarily published under three different male pen names, her main being Andre while she also published under Andrew North and Allen Weston. A prolific author, Norton dozens of books in her 70 year career, including a hefty number of titles for the Young Adult market. She was the first woman to be named the Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy by the World Science Fiction Committee, the first lady to be the Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master, and to be inducted in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. Twice nominated for a Hugo and thrice nominated for a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement award, she finally won the latter in 1998. Norton published up until her death in 2005 at the age of 93.

Although Norton published under several genres she is primarily known for her work in Science Fiction/ Fantasy and Young Adult. With her first novels for the sci fi/ juvenile market, her publisher urged her to publish under a pen name to increase her marketability since her stories targeted young male readers. Rather than stick to using the pen name, she legally changed her name to Andre Alice Norton in 1934.

Aside from her publishing endeavor, Norton was a huge boon to the Sci-fi/fantasy author community, creating a research facility for genre authors called the High Hallack Library that operated from 1999 to 2004 before her decline in health led to the facility's shutdown. Her lasting impact on the genre led to the creation of the Andre Norton Award for outstanding work in science fiction/ fantasy written for Young Adults and her stories continue to influence authors in the genre today.

Resources & Further Reading

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