The Outsiders— It’s been deemed the first true young adult novel, it’s the first book to lead to the bestowing of a School Library Journal Author Achievement Award (My goodness, that’s a long title!), and it was actually written based on the upbringing of famed author S.E. Hinton.
Since it recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, let’s get to know a bit more about its background.
Hinton grew up in a small Oklahoman town as someone her book describes as a “greaser.” In fact, the opening scene in which she describes a young boy getting jumped and threatened by Socs was inspired by a similar event taking place at her high school. She says she still feel uncomfortable in many social situations because her hometown was so divided.
She published it under the name S.E. Hinton because, at the time, many publishers would automatically dismiss the novel based solely on the author’s gender. Hinton was only sixteen years old when she began writing The Outsiders, and it started out as a few dozen pages. After that, she combed back through it several times, adding more details each time.
While Hinton is still a very private person, she has discussed her love for reading, writing, and horseback riding. Even at the age of sixty-eight, she finds pleasure in taking courses at the local university.
Another fun fact about Hinton is that she’s also acted in her own movies! In The Outsiders, she plays a nurse in Dally’s hospital room and in another screenplay of hers, Tex, she plays the typing teacher.
There’s always more to a person– and a story– than meets the eye.