Born: June 20, 1911
Died: October 23, 1964
Ohio connection: Birth
Edward McMaken Eager was born in 1911 in Toledo, Ohio. He was raised in Toledo, but spent most of the summers of his childhood and youth in rural Indiana, where he developed a love of nature, gardening, and bird-watching. These interests stayed with him the rest of his life and had an effect on his writing. He met his future wife, Jane Eberly, when they were both teenagers. They would later have one son, Fritz. Eager attended Harvard University, but never earned a degree, as he was moving in the direction of a career as a dramatist. While at Harvard, he wrote a play called Pudding Full of Plums. Its success led him to move to New York City, where he began writing full-time. He later moved to New Canaan, Connecticut, but always maintained an apartment in Manhattan. He produced a number of plays over the years, including Two Misers, Call It Virtue, and The Happy Hypocrite. He co-authored four plays with Alfred Drake: The Liar, The Gambler, Dr. Willy Nilly, and Rugantino. He was lyricist for the musicals Dream with Music; Sing Out Sweet Land; and Adventures of Marco Polo: A Musical Fantasy. He also adapted a number of operas and operettas for television, including Mozart`s Marriage of Figaro and Offenbach`s Orpheus in the Underground, both of which appeared on NBC-TV in 1954. Eager is most well known, however, for his children`s books, which he did not begin to publish until he was in his early forties. His first work for children, a book of poems called Red Head, was written for his son. He then wrote two animal stories, Mouse Manor and Playing Possum. His most popular works were a series of fantasies, beginning with Half Magic, published in 1954. It was the first of four books informally known as the “Half Magic” series. The other three, all of which deal with the same extended family, are Knight`s Castle, Magic by the Lake, and Time Garden. Eager described these books as expressing “daily magic” in the lives of typical American children. His fantasies pay homage to the writing of British novelist E. Nesbit, a writer of popular children`s books. Eager`s last novel was Seven-Day Magic, a book about the adventures of time-traveling children. Edward McMaken Eager died October 23, 1964 in Stamford, Connecticut.
Ohioana Book Award, 1957, for Knight’s Castle, and 1963, for Seven-Day Magic.