(Mar. 31, 1896-Oct. 12, 1974). Indianapolis author of 50 books, including adult fiction, detective stories, and 31 histories and biographies for children, Jeannette Covert Nolan was born in Evansville, Indiana. She came from a long line of journalists. Her grandfather owned a newspaper in Washington, Indiana before the Civil War, and later in Evansville.

At the age of 17, she went to work for the Evansville Courier as a reporter and feature writer. In 1917, she married and devoted herself to domestic duties and raising three children, Val Nolan Jr., Alan T. Nolan, and Kathleen Covert Nolan. Writing down the stories she told the children and selling them to magazines occupied her for many years. The family moved to Indianapolis in 1933.

Her first book, Barry Barton’s Mystery, was published in 1932. The Young Douglas (1934), her third book, was the first of three Junior Literary Guild selections. The other two were Hobnailed Boots (1939) and The Story of Clara Barton and The Red Cross (1941). New Days, New Ways, an adult novel, was published in 1936 in England as well as the United States.

The death of her husband in 1940 made writing a necessity for Jeannette Nolan. In 1941, she published three books including James Whitcomb Riley, Hoosier Poet, which was introduced at a party for the poet’s birthday on Lockerbie Street. Hoosier City: The Story of Indianapolis was published in 1943. Gather Ye Rosebuds, published in 1946, was made into Isn’t It Romantic? a motion picture musical. From 1946 to 1973, she published 30 books, including biographies of Florence Nightingale, Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, and Benedict Arnold.

Jeannette Nolan directed Indiana University’s summer workshop on writing for children for five years. In 1954, she received the Indiana University Writers Conference award for George Rogers Clark: Soldier and Hero, chosen as the best children’s book by an Indiana author. In 1961, she won the award again for Spy for the Confederacy: Rose O’Neal Greenhow.

Indiana University awarded her an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 1967, and, in 1968, Jeannette Covert Nolan was elected to the university’s Writers Conference Hall of Fame.

Revised February 2021

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