SUMMARY: Shel Silverstein (September 25, 1930 – May 10, 1999) American poet, songwriter, musician, composer, cartoonist, screenwriter and author of children’s books.
Shel Silverstein Quotes
Shel Silverstein Books
Many children and adults alike are familiar with the works of Shel Silverstein. This popular American poet wrote a number of books of poetry for children, which is what he is best known for. In fact, Shel Silverstein’s famous books of poetry, A light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends, are often classroom staples, required school reading, and a child’s first taste of poetry. While he was an excellent and well-known poet, Shel Silverstein has written much more than just children’s works.
Shel Silverstein’s full name was Sheldon Allan Silverstein, and he was born in Chicago in 1930. His biographical information is difficult to come by, as he was a private man who shunned interviews and publicity tours and told his publisher not to give out any information about him. He was married and divorced and was the father of a daughter. Shel Silverstein died of a heart attack in 1999 in his home in Key West
Artwork and songwriting
Although Shel Silverstein is best known for his children’s works, interestingly enough, writing for children was never his first intention. According to Silverstein, his career in writing and drawing began at an early age, when he said that because he wasn’t athletic, he instead took up writing and drawing.
Silverstein was a talented artist on many levels. As a songwriter, he wrote the songs “A Boy Named Sue” for Johnny Cash as well as “The Cover of the Rolling Stone” for Dr. Hook. In addition to these hits, he also wrote the popular “Unicorn Song” for the Irish Rovers as well as “I’m Checking Out” for the movie Postcards from the Edge, which he also received an Oscar nomination as a songwriter for.
Silverstein was also a cartoonist, which he started while serving in the Army in Japan and Korea, when he was a cartoonist for Stars & Stripes, the US Army publication. After he was released from the Army, he began to draw cartoons for such magazines as Sports Illustrated, This Week, Look, and Playboy. Silverstein’s cartoons appeared in every issue in Playboy from 1957 to the mid-70’s.
Despite his successful career as a songwriter, Silverstein is best known for his children’s poetry and stories, which were eventually translated into over 30 different languages. He first began writing for children after a friend introduced him to his Editor at Harper Collins. From there, his first book for children, The Giving Tree, was published in 1964. While it was not a big success at first, it eventually went on to be a bestseller and continues to be, with over 5 million copies sold.
In 1974, Shel Silverstein published his first book of poems, Where the Sidewalk Ends. It became an immediate success and is still a staple in many elementary school libraries. In 1981, A Light in the Attic was published, spending 182 weeks atop the New York Times bestseller list, surpassing sales of Where the Sidewalk Ends. Fifteen years later, Falling Up, another book of children’s poetry, was published. Silverstein also illustrated his own work, drawing from his success as a cartoonist.
Shel Silverstein was a man of many talents, including writing, art, and music. He is well-known and respected in a number of industries, and people continue to enjoy his poems and his music today.