March 17, 2005 by

Andre Norton


Categories: Writers/Editors

anorton.jpgAndre Norton, the grand dame of science fiction and fantasy, died on March 17 of congestive heart failure. She was 93.
Born Alice Mary Norton, she studied history at the Flora Stone Mather College of Western Reserve University. Norton left school during the Depression to help support her family, but later took night classes in journalism and writing at Cleveland College.
For the next 21 years, she worked as a librarian at the Nottingham Branch Library in Cleveland, Ohio, as a special librarian to the Library of Congress and as the owner of a small bookstore and lending library in Mount Ranier, Md. In 1934, Norton published her first fantasy novel, “The Prince Commands,” and legally adopted a more masculine moniker to appeal to speculative fiction’s typically male audience.
Over the next 70 years, the prolific author published more than 130 books, wrote nearly 100 short stories and edited numerous science fiction, fantasy, mystery and western anthologies. An old-fashioned storyteller, Norton was best known for her “Witch World” series, which details life on an imaginary planet that is reachable through metaphysical gateways. The 30-title series began in 1963 with a Hugo-nominated book of the same name and became a fixture on library and bookstore shelves.
Norton established The High Hallack Genre Writer’s Research and Reference Library in Nashville, Tenn., in 1999. (High Hallack is the name of a country in the “Witch World” series.) Before closing in 2004, the library served as a retreat for authors looking to research ancient religions, weaponry, mythology and history.
In 1977, Norton became the first woman to receive the Grand Master of Fantasy Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She won the Nebula Grand Master Award, the Fritz Leiber Award and the Jules Verne Award, and was inducted into the Ohio Women Hall of Fame and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. The SFWA recently named an award in her honor; it will be presented in 2006 and recognize outstanding science fiction and fantasy novels written for young adults.
Her latest novel, “Three Hands of Scorpio,” is scheduled for publication next month. Knowing she was very ill, her publisher, Tor Books, rushed an advance copy to her last week. Norton has requested that she be cremated with a copy of her first and last books.

12 Responses to Andre Norton

  1. David C. Oshel

    Andre Norton was the first author who ever responded to my fan letters — with a boilerplate autoresponse that her next book would be available soon. Next to Martha Stewart, she was the best pot boiler in the business.

  2. Steven Eldredge

    Andre Norton was the best. For 70 years she cranked out some of the most entertaining science fiction and fantasy and juvenile books,most of it of immensely high quality. She leaves a lot of devoted fans, and will be missed.
    Rest in Peace.

  3. Larry Thompson

    Andre Norton, along with Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein, made me fall in love with science fiction and reading at an early age. I still love reading and science fiction. I have read many dozens of her books and have thoroughly enjoyed each and every one. Even to a young boy in the double standard fifties and sixties was it evident that this writer was female and a genius. I have always been able to revisit her books again and again and each time I find some new delight.
    She was a magnificent, prolific writer who probably came up the hard way in a man’s world and made a place for herself and the many, many female authors who followed her. She and those books she hadn’t yet written will be missed. God rest her soul.

  4. Vered

    OMG… I had no idea. I read books by A.C. Crispin who collaborated with her and based her book characters on Norton’s…
    I had no idea she was so old… a GREAT talent.

  5. Diane Glover

    Andre Norton’s “The Last Planet” was the first sci-fi book I read; at 40 cents, it cost me 2 weeks allowance and I still have it, somewhat the worse for wear! She has given me untold hours of pleasure, introduced me to a genre with a multitude of talented authors, and answered the only fan letter I’ve ever written with a hand-written reply. She was indeed a master of her craft, and there are a lot of us who will miss the anticipation of a new Andre Norton book release and the joy of settling in for a great read. Blessed be, Lady
    By the way, who is Martha Stewart?

  6. Norman E. Davis

    Ms. Norton was the one who got me hooked on science fiction, which I have been reading for about 40 years now. I have an extensive, but by no means exhaustive, collection of her work, starting with her very earliest, and including her superb action adventures about the Dutch underground during WW II. Not every writer can span the genre’s that she did. Ms. Norton, if you can read this from beyond the grave, know that there are many of us who will miss you greatly. There was none like you before, and may very well not be another like you in the future. May you rest in peace knowing that you influenced so very many.
    Norman E. Davis

  7. Huw Jones

    She introduced me to Reading in the 60s and 70s, and I still know if I get hold of one of her books that I will be in for a great read. I am reading the Solar Queen series for the first time in 20 years. Hearing she had passed away was a shock, and I wish that she can rest in peace.


    definitely one of my favorites for many years!here’s hoping someone like brilliance audio might try to put some of her books on audio!

  9. Logan

    My mother taught me to read and taught me that reading is important. Andre Norton taught me to LOVE to read. In my mind I can still clearly picture the section of my elementary school library where I first discovered her books nearly 4 decades ago. Her heros and heroines were so often the misfits and underdogs who discovered strength within themselves. I think every child feels that way sometimes, and her books taught us to reach for our dreams. Even as an adult I enjoy her works and literally have hundreds of them. I owe her many thanks, and regret that I can no longer look forward to years of new books by her. Luckily we can all enjoy her works and continue to enjoy the works of the many authors she has mentored. Thank you Grand Dame Norton. Dr. Logan Randolph

  10. G. Ernest Bumby

    Andre Norton was one of the 1st SF authors who lead me to reading as a hobby and great source of learning life is great! I will greatly miss this great lady as will many others. I’ll be keeping her books close at hand and close to my heart.

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