Andre Norton was an American science fiction and fantasy author who wrote novels for over 70 years and has been called the Grande Dame of Science Fiction and Fantasy by biographers such as J. M. Cornwell and organizations such as Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and Publishers Weekly.
Andre Norton is the pen name of Alice Mary Norton. She legally changed her name to Andre in 1934.
Alice Norton was born in Cleveland, Ohio. She began her writing career during her teenage years. Norton was motivated to pursue writing by a captivating school teacher who inspired her at Collinwood High School.
After graduating from high school in 1930, Norton planned to become a teacher and attended Flora Stone Mather College of Western Reserve University. In 1932 she had to leave because of the Depression and started working for the Cleveland Library System.
As she entered the publishing world, she, like many other female writers at the time, faced the challenge of targeting a market primarily dominated by male readers. As a result, she made the decision to adopt a literary pseudonym, which eventually became Andre Norton.
The androgynous Andre doesn't say "male" to English-speaking readers, even though it is a man's name in other languages (i.e. Norwegian). She also used the names Andrew North and Allen Weston as pseudonyms.
Andre Norton debuted in 1934 with her novel, The Prince Commands, being sundry adventures of Michael Karl, with illustrations by a Hungarian writer Kate Seredy.
Throughout her career, Norton crafted an impressive collection of speculative fiction series. Among them, her most extensive and enduring project was Witch World, which commenced with the publication of the novel with the same title in 1963. Initially, the series consisted of the first six novels released as Ace Books paperback originals between 1963 and 1968.
From the 1980s some were written by Norton and a co-author, and others were anthologies of short fiction for which she was editor. There were dozens of books in all.
Andre Norton was the first woman to receive the Gandalf Grand Master Award from the World Science Fiction Society in 1977. She won the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) association in 1983.
Norton was twice nominated for the Hugo Award, in 1964 for the novel Witch World and in 1967 for the novelette "Wizard's World." She was nominated three times for the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement, winning the award in 1998.
Norton won many other genre awards and regularly had works appear in the Locus annual "Best of the Year" polls.
She had a significant impact on the entire genre, having over 300 published titles read by at least four generations of science fiction and fantasy readers and writers.
Notable authors who mention her influence include Greg Bear, Lois McMaster Bujold, C. J. Cherryh, Cecilia Dart-Thornton, Tanya Huff, Mercedes Lackey, Charles de Lint, Joan D. Vinge, David Weber, K. D. Wentworth, and Catherine Asaro.
Andre Norton passed away on March 17, 2005.
The same year, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, which had earlier honored her with its Grand Master Award in 1983, announced the creation of the Andre Norton Award, to be given each year for an outstanding work of fantasy or science fiction for the young adult literature market, beginning in 2006.