NORTON, ANDRE (17 Feb., 1912 - March 17, 2005) born Alice Norton, was a prominent American science fiction author known better by her pseudonyms Andre Norton and Andrew North. Norton was born in Cleveland, Ohio to Adalbert Freely Norton and Bertha Stemm Norton.
Andre began her writing career while attending Collinwood high school, located on St Clair Ave on the EAST SIDE OF CLEVELAND. Norton joined her school’s paper, the Collingwood Spotlight, as editor of the literary page. As an editor, she was tasked with writing short stories and reviewing the work of other staff members. During her study breaks, she wrote her first novel Ralestone Luck and completed it by the end of her senior year of high school. Throughout that same year, Norton also served as editor of her class yearbook and was promoted to writer for her highschool’s paper. As a writer for the school’s paper, Norton was charged with creating short stories and movie reviews, which allowed her more creative freedom than her previous position as editor.
Norton also took creative writing courses in high school, which inspired her to write her own adventure stories and mystery novels.
In 1930 after graduating from high school, Norton enrolled in FLORA STONE MATHER COLLEGE AT WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY, known today as CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY. She studied history for a short time before dropping out due to the financial crash of the Great Depression in 1929. Her father, Adalbert Norton, could no longer afford her schooling, so she was forced to pursue a different career path.
Her first job was as a children’s librarian at the CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY. While she worked as a librarian during the day, she took evening courses in writing at Case Western Reserve University. During her twenty-two years working at the library, she became inspired by the various children and adventure books she came across, so she decided to write her own tale titled The Prince Commands.
Norton sent her work to Appleton Century to be published. They agreed, however, they asserted that her name and gender would dissuade her target audience of young males from reading her book. Norton decided that she would publish the book under the pseudonym Andre Norton, instead of her birth name Alice. Soon after the book was published in 1934, she legally changed her name to Andre Norton.
During the 1930s, she published only one other novel Ralestone Luck, which she previously wrote during her high school years. Neither Ralestone Luck nor The Prince Commands were a commercial success.
During 1940 - 1941, Norton left her job as a librarian and moved to Mount Rainer, Maryland to open The Mystery House, a small bookstore and lending library. While working at The Mystery House, she also took up a position with the Library of Congress, suggesting books to help immigrants learn English. However, she was let go from her position when the United States entered WW2.
She could no longer rely on the income from her bookstore, so she closed the doors to The Mystery House and moved back to Cleveland. She then returned to her previous position as a librarian.
Once in Cleveland, she began writing spy novels inspired by the various letters she read by WW2 Dutch spies. By 1949, Norton completed a spy book series, which won some awards globally. Her newfound success was cut short when she developed vertigo. She was negatively affected by this illness, eventually resigning from her position at the Cleveland Public Library in 1950.
Norton then found work as a publisher’s reader, taking on a job with Gnome Press. However, the income from Gnome Press was not secure. To help provide another revenue stream, she began writing and producing more written works.
In 1952 she published Star Man’s Son, which was the beginning of her science fiction legacy. During the next 11 years, Norton’s novels expanded to target adults. The Star Man’s Son, for example, was renamed and republished as Daybreak-2250 A.D. to better capture an adult audience. This tactic was wildly successful. In 1958, Norton sold about one million copies of Daybreak-2250 A.D. Her other novels were then renamed and republished, becoming a wide success among young adult and adult readers. By the 1960s, Norton worked as a full-time author and novelist.
During the 1960s, Norton wrote more books than she had previously written in her life. Her series, Witch World, spanned over 30 volumes and was nominated for a Hugo award in 1964.
In 1966, Norton left Ohio and relocated to Winter Park, Florida.
At the same time, Norton’s health began to deteriorate. To ensure a steady revenue stream, she began collaborating with junior writers, especially women writers, to write for her various novel series. Some critics felt that the novels written by other authors lacked Norton’s charm and storytelling. However, they still contributed to Norton’s prominent and prestigious brand name.
In 1982, one of Norton’s books, The Beast Master, was developed into a movie and shown to thousands of people. While not considered a success or representative of her literary work, the movie cemented her status as a science fiction legend.
In the 1990s, Norton created a writers’ retreat and research library located in Putnam County, Tennessee named after her Witch World series. In 1999, she moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee to begin her library. After five years, her library closed down in 2004. For the next year she continued to write books, even while bedridden.
Shortly after, Andre Norton passed away at age 93 from congestive heart failure on March 17, 2005, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Norton was buried in Mansfield Cemetery located in Mansfield, Richland County, Ohio. Her last book, Three Hands for Scorpio, was published in 2005, one month following her death.