Natalie S. Bober

Natalie S. Bober was an American author, historian, and educator. She is best known for her biographies of poets, artists, and figures of early American history. She has written about Thomas Jefferson, Abigail Adams, and William Wordsworth, among others.

Natalie S. Bober was born Natalie Birnbaum in New York City, the daughter of Samuel, who worked in real estate, and Dolly, an editor, researcher, and indexer.

In her autobiographical essay for Something About the Author, Bober noted that she had always read incessantly in her early years. After graduating from Hunter College High School at the age of 16, her first summer job was at the main branch of the New York Public Library.

Bober also credited her mother as an influence on her writing. Dolly Birnbaum taught her to conduct careful and attentive research, the skill that remained important to Bober's work throughout her life.

Natalie S. Bober studied at Hunter College when she married Lawrence Bober, a banker, in 1950. She continued her studies, receiving her B.A. from Hunter in 1951. Later Natalie earned an M.S. from Hofstra University in 1966. During these years, the couple welcomed three children, and Bober had established a career as a teacher and a reading consultant, instructing junior high and college students.

In 1972, Bober suffered a health issue involving her leg, which kept her off her feet for six months. Bober found an article in Writer magazine about writing biographies for young readers. Her husband challenged her to give it a go.

She spent many months researching and writing about one of her favorite poets from her college coursework: William Wordsworth. She queried publishers with the manuscript and 21 editors turned her down. The 22nd—whom Bober described as an Anglophile, at Thomas Nelson Publishers—took her on, publishing William Wordsworth: The Wandering Poet in 1975.

The book was well received, and as a result, Bober was soon researching the life of another favorite poet for what would become A Restless Spirit: The Story of Robert Frost (Atheneum, 1981). In 2008, a revised and expanded edition of the book, published by Henry Holt, was selected as Vermont Reads book of the year.

In 1985, Bober and her daughter Elizabeth Bober Polivy (Betsy)—as co-owners—opened Once Upon a Time, An Enchanted Children’s Bookstore, in New Rochelle, N.Y.

Natalie S. Bober is the author of Thomas Jefferson: Man on a Mountain (1988). Together with her husband, they were officially invited to Thomas Jefferson’s 250th birthday celebration at Monticello in 1993. Bober also participated in Ken Burns’s documentary on Jefferson—she was interviewed on camera and served as a consultant—which first aired on PBS in 1997.

Another historical biography that made her known is Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution (1995). That title was named the winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Nonfiction and also won SCBWI’s Golden Kite Award.

She has published a total of 11 books for young readers.

Natalie S. Bober spent her final years with her husband in Westchester County, New York.
years of life: 27 December 1930 29 December 2022


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