Guest Edition

Elizabeth Partridge–What Was on Her . . .

Elizabeth Partridge

Elizabeth Partridge

Today’s guest edition features one of children’s and young adult literature’s nonfiction powerhouses–Elizabeth Partridge!

Elizabeth is the author of more than a dozen books, ranging from middle grade novels to picture books to young adult nonfiction, and is an award-winning biographer. In fact, Elizabeth has garnered nearly every major award out there: The Michael L. Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Hornbook Award, the LA Times Book Prize, the SCBWI Golden Kite, and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, as well as being a National Book Award Finalist! And if that isn’t enough, Elizabeth is on the faculty of the highly respected Vermont College of Fine Arts Program in Writing for Children and Young Adults.

For her most recent project, Elizabeth has created a monograph celebrating one of the twentieth century’s most important photographers, Dorothea Lange. Grab a Hunk of Lightning includes Elizabeth’s biography of Lange and features both Lange’s iconic Depression-era photographs, as well as lesser-known images from her global travels later in life.

But what of the life of the biographer herself? For an insight into Elizabeth’s creative life and process, read on to find her own words and What Was on Elizabeth Partridge’s . . .

Elizabeth Partridge's Office

Elizabeth Partridge’s Office

Light Table: This is such a cool question. I have a light table, but nobody has ever asked me about it. I know not very many authors have one, so the question doesn’t come up. I keep it in my closet, and pull it out when I want to look at slides. I don’t use it very often since who makes slides anymore? What I use most of the time are three walls of my writing room. Seven or eight years ago I put in bulletin boards covered with an off-white fabric. The bulletin boards go from waist height to about eight feet tall. I pin all kinds of things on these walls. Inspiring quotes, small objects, images that strike me from magazines, or posters, necklaces. Anything light enough to be held up with a pushpin. These walls are what I used to choose the photographs for Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lighting. I put hundreds of different images up in pairs, and the pairs in order like the spreads of a book. Then I’d photograph them, and pull them down and do a different set.

To Do List That Didn’t Get Done: Oh, yikes, I would hate to show anyone my abandoned to do lists. So many things that just don’t get done.

Window Sill: I often clutter up my window sills with found objects like shells, paperweights, smooth stones. I have an old horseshoe I found, and an old marble doorknob that sit next to each other on one window sill.

Floor: I read an article once about being efficient in your office, which said to NEVER use the floor to sort papers and organize things. Ha. Impossible. I love using the floor, because I can’t leave it there. Once it gets tossed on the floor I clean it up at the end of the day, so it forces me to put things away.

Catalog of Biggest Regrets: I have only one writing regret: that I am not more focused and organized (does that count as two?) I really admire people who are more organized than I am. They don’t clutter their window sills, and they sit down at their writing desk every day at the same time. I like to blame my genes. My family is high on ideas and creativity and low on organization.

Front Stoop: It’s my back stoop I really love. I go in and out to my garden frequently while I am taking breaks from my computer. I often eat lunch or munch on fruit or chocolate on the back stoop. It’s a quiet spot with birds and whatever vegetables and flowers are growing in my garden. Warm and sunny, a little pause in my day.

Dorothea Lange: Grab a Hunk of Lightning is the companion book to a PBS American Masters episode. To learn more about the film, click here. And if you haven’t had a chance to see the gorgeous monograph created by Elizabeth Partridge, don’t miss out. You can order by clicking below.


Please stop by again on February 10 when Trent Reedy, author of Words in the Dust, Stealing Air and the soon to be released Divided We Fall, will be joining us for the next What Was on His… 


4 thoughts on “Elizabeth Partridge–What Was on Her . . .

  1. Love this interview! I’ve wanted a light table, ever since I used to work with the designers at a former publishing house. How cool that Betsy has one! I also use the floor to sort papers, 😀

    • I would love to have a light table too. There is this part of me that dreams of doing more creative artistic work–but I need to admit that is just a dream, if you know what I mean.

Leave a Reply