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MS-154: Papers of Eileen Spinelli

(3 boxes, approximately 3 cubic feet)


Inclusive Dates: 1987—2012

Bulk Dates: 2000—2012

Processed by: Jenna Fleming

October 2013



The papers were donated to Musselman Library by Eileen Spinelli in 2012.  Her donation followed one made by her husband, author Jerry Spinelli, winner of the 1991 Newberry Award and graduate of Gettysburg College, class of 1963.


Eileen Spinelli was born Eileen Mesi in 1942.  She was raised in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, and was inspired to become an author following her first visit to the local public library at the age of six.  She worked as a creative writing teacher and a secretary prior to the publication of her first book, Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, in 1991.  Since then, Spinelli has written over sixty books for children, as well as poems and stories published in Highlights for Children and other magazines.   Her books Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch and Hero Cat were recognized by the Christopher Awards in 1992 and 2007, respectively, for their “affirmation of the highest values of the human spirit.”  Spinelli was presented with the Bank Street College of Education’s Best Children’s Book of the Year Award, the Philadelphia Children’s Reading Round Table Book of the Month Award, and 2010 National Green Earth Book Award for Miss Fox’s Class Goes Green, among other honors.  She is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.  She is married to Newberry Award-winning author Jerry Spinelli, Gettysburg College Class of 1963.  The couple has six children and twenty-one grandchildren.  Spinelli currently lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where she continues to write stories and poetry for children. 

Scope and Content Notes

The collection consists mainly of materials used by Spinelli in the writing and publication processes of her books.  Handwritten, typed, and word processed drafts from various stages of the books’ development are included.  E-mail and written correspondence between Spinelli, publishers, and editors is also part of the collection.  Several of the books were turned down by multiple publishing houses before being sold, and some manuscripts were never accepted at all.  The electronic communication between the author and her editors provides insight into the complicated and lengthy process of revising childrens’ books for printing, as well as the task of choosing and collaborating with an illustrator.

In some cases, Spinelli’s research for her books, mostly in the form of articles printed from the internet, is included in the files.  This is largely applicable to those books that are based in historical or factual information.  Copies of published reviews, along with occasional notes from Spinelli’s publishers, are also part of the collection.  A few files contain samples of cover art or illustrations, proofs of printed versions, information on book awards, or newspaper and magazine articles announcing publications.  The collection also contains a small selection of Spinelli’s personal papers, comprising of interviews and fan mail. 

Series Description

This collection is divided into three Series.  Series 1: Manuscripts: drafts, correspondence, reviews, research, and other publication information; Series 2: Personal Papers: author biography, interviews, and fan mail; Series 3: Proofs: oversized publication proofs.

Download Finding Aid - Adobe PDF