Alder, Elizabeth

Born: August 8, 1954

Ohio connection: Birth


Elizabeth A. Alder was born on August 8, 1954 in Painesville, Ohio, daughter of Robert A., a lawyer who helped found the Lake County Public Defender’s Office and Angela V. Clair (nee Belew).  An award-winning author of historical fiction for children and young adults, Alder’s path toward becoming a writer has its roots in dinner table conversations with her father, who was a gifted storyteller. It wasn’t until an essay she’d written was published in the Sunday magazine of Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer newspaper, more than 25 years ago, that she really got hooked on writing.

Alder published her first book, The King’s Shadow in 1995; it won several awards including the American Library Association’s (ALA) Best Book for Young Adults and Best Book of the Year by School Library Journal. Alder’s second book, Crossing the Panther’s Path (2002) was a Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Best Book for Young Adults Nominee for 2002 and a National Center for Social Studies-Children’s Book Council (NCSS-CBC) Notable Children’s Trade Book in the field of Social Studies.

Alder is a graduate of South High School in Willoughby, Ohio; she and her husband Francis Alder met when they were both 15 years old. They married in 1973 when they were in college. Elizabeth Alder is a graduate of Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio, and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She has worked as a teacher of English and Medieval History and for many years taught at a girls’ international equestrian boarding school in northeastern Ohio.  Alder has been a book reviewer and contributing writer for The Harford EditionCleveland Parent magazine, and The Plain Dealer.  Alder has said her mission is to research her story and subject, then weave a tale that will capture young readers’ attention and keep them reading. In a 1995 interview with The Plain Dealer, Alder said, “I think my greatest asset as a writer is detail and making readers feel they are there.”

Elizabeth Alder lives in Willoughby, Ohio.


The ALA Best Book for Young Adults (1995); International Reading Association (IRA) Book Award (1996); School Library Journal Best book of the Year; Friends of American Writers Award Chicago, Juvenile Category (1996) for The King’s Shadow; NCSS-CBC Notable Children’s Trade Book in the field of Social Studies for Crossing the Panther’s Path (2003).