Scott O'Dell (1898-1989)
Highly respected and award-winning American author, best known for his historical children's novels. He was born in Los Angeles in 1898. His birth name was Odell Gabriel Scott but he later officially changed it to Scott O'Dell, after seeing it mis-spelt this way and liking it. He worked in Hollywood for a number of years in various jobs such as script-reader, set dresser, camera-man and even once as a body double for Rudolph Valentino! He also served in the army during two world wars.
As a writer, he originally wrote adult novels and articles but after completing the manuscript for his novel Island of the Blue Dolphins, he realized it was really a story for children. The book was highly acclaimed, winning many awards including the Newbery Medal, and was made into a film. It is still perhaps his best known and most popular work. After the success of this book, O'Dell went on to write another 25 books for children/young adults, mostly historical adventures that were often based on real-life events. One of these - Carlota - had a horsy theme and was based on the real character of a girl who was a superb horsewoman and took part in the Battle of San Pasqual in the Mexican War. Not at all a traditional pony story but set in a world where horses were all-important.
Although there is no evidence to say whether he particularly liked horses, Scott O'Dell was an animal lover who disliked hunting and was the director of an animal shelter.
He died in 1989 and his widow, the author Elizabeth Hall, posthumously completed two books he had begun before his death.
There is a Scott O'Dell website and also two books about the author and his work.