Eckert, Allan

Born: January 30, 1931
Died: July 7, 2011

Ohio connection: Former Resident


Allan Eckert, son of Edward Russell and Ruth (Roth) Eckert, was born in 1931 in Buffalo, New York. He attended the University of Dayton, 1951-52, and The Ohio State University, 1953-54. He married Joan Dowling in 1955, and they had two children, Julie and Joseph. They were divorced in 1975, and Eckert married Gail Ann Hagemann Green the following year. That marriage also ended in divorce, in 1978. Eckert then married Nancy Cross Dent the same year. Prior to 1955, Eckert worked a wide variety of jobs, including postal service employee, private detective, firefighter, cook, dishwasher, salesperson, trapper, commercial artist, taxi driver, factory worker, and farmer. He then settled into a writing career, beginning with the associate editor position for the NCR Factory News (National Cash Register Co., Dayton, Ohio), 1955-56. He then worked for the Dayton Journal-Herald as a reporter, columnist, feature writer, and editor, 1957-60, after which he became a full-time author.

Eckert has written more than thirty books, often combining history and natural history with fiction. He has written novels, documentary fiction, historical narratives, children`s books, and even a play. Some of his titles are The Dreaming TreeThe HAB TheoryReturn to Hawk`s Hill (novels);The Silent Sky: The Incredible Extinction of the Passenger PigeonWild SeasonBayou BackwatersIn Search of a WhaleThe Court-Martial of Daniel Boone (documentary fiction); the “Winning of America” series, including six books; A Sorrow in Our Heart: The Life of TecumsehThat Dark and Bloody River: Chronicles of the Ohio River Valley (historical narratives); The King Snake;Blue JacketWar Chief of the ShawneesSavage JourneySong of the Wild (children`s and young adult books); Tecumseh!(play); The Writer`s Digest Course in Article WritingThe Writer`s Digest Course in Short Story Writing; and Earth Treasures: Where to Collect Minerals, Rocks, and Fossils in the United States (non-fiction). Eckert is also the author of more than two hundred television scripts for Wild Kingdom, and contributor of more than two hundred articles to periodicals. Allan Eckert died on July 7, 2011, in Corona, California.

Pulitzer Prize nominations, 1964-65, 1967-68, 1970, and 1992; Ohioana Book Award, 1968, for The Frontiersmen; Friends of American Writers Awards, 1968, for Wild Season and The Frontiersmen; Emmy Award, outstanding program achievement, National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 1968-69, for Wild Kingdom; Newbery Honor Book Award, American Library Association, 1972, Recognition of Merit, George C. Stone Center for Children’s Books, 1975, and Austrian Juvenile Book of the Year Award, 1977, all for Incident at Hawk’s Hill; Ph.D., Bowling Green State University, 1985; Second Annual Silver Arrow Humanitarian Award, Scioto Society, 1987; commended as Kentucky Colonel, Governor of the State of Kentucky, 1987. Some of Eckert’s books have been Reader’s Digest Condensed Book Club selections.  In 1999, tthe Ohioana Library Association, in celebration of its 70th anniversary, invited all Ohioans to vote for their “all time favorite Ohio authors and their books.” Ballots were sent to all public libraries in Ohio and many Ohio newspapers also participated in the event. Dr. Eckert’s book The Frontiersmen was selected as Ohioans’ favorite book “About Ohio or an Ohioan.” Dr. Eckert was himself selected as Ohio’s favorite author in the category of “About Ohio or an Ohioan,” and in the principal category of “Overall Favorite Ohio Writer of All Time,” the top honor was resulted in a tie — shared by Toni Morrison and Dr. Eckert.