S. E. Hinton Biography

Born: 1950
Tulsa, Oklahoma

American author

Often considered the most successful novelist for the junior high and high school audience, S. E. Hinton is credited with creating realistic young adult literature. Her career began with the publication of her first book, The Outsiders (1967), at the age of seventeen.

Childhood and teenage novelist

Susan Eloise Hinton was born on July 22, 1950, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Remarking that there was little to do for a child growing up in Tulsa, Hinton turned to reading and writing at a very early age. The shy girl also had dreams of becoming a cattle rancher, until she abandoned this desire for a writing career.

As a teenager in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Hinton developed her love of literature but often found her options limited and boring. While she was a junior in high school, Hinton's father was diagnosed with cancer, a terrible and often fatal disease. To help her deal with her father's condition, Hinton turned to writing. During this time, Hinton completed a book she called The Outsiders.

Popularity of The Outsiders

Based on events that occurred in her high school in Tulsa, The Outsiders describes the rivalry between two gangs, the lower-middle-class "greasers" and the upper-class "socs" (for Socials), a conflict that leads to the deaths of members of both gangs. Narrated by fourteen-year-old Ponyboy, a sensitive, orphaned greaser who tells the story in retrospect (after the events occurred), The Outsiders explores the friendship, loyalty, and affection that lie behind the gang mystique while pointing out both the similarities in the feelings of the opposing groups and the uselessness of gang violence. Through his encounters with death, Ponyboy learns that he does not have to remain an outsider.

Initially regarded as controversial for its portrayal of rebellious youth, the novel is now recognized as a classic of juvenile literature as well as a unique accomplishment for so young a writer. The Outsiders was a major success among teenagers, selling more than four million copies in the United States alone. The book's popularity enabled Hinton to attend the University of Tulsa, where in 1970 she earned an education degree and met her future husband, David Inhofe. However, gaining fame and fortune at eighteen was not without problems—Hinton had writer's block for several years.

Further novels

Eventually, however, Hinton produced a second novel, That Was Then, This Is Now (1971), a tale of two foster brothers, Bryon and Mark, who are drifting apart. One becomes more involved in school and girlfriends, the other moves deeper into a career of crime and drugs. In Rumble Fish (1975), Hinton continued to explore the themes of gang violence and growing up. In this story a bitter young man, in a struggle to acquire a tough reputation, gradually loses everything meaningful to him. Hinton's next book, Tex (1979), which follows two brothers left in each other's care by their rambling father, likewise investigates how delinquent youths try to make it in a world shaped by protest, drugs, violence, and family disruption.


Hinton spent the ten-year interval between Tex and her next novel, Taming the Star Runner (1986), advising on the sets of several film adaptations of her books and starting a family. She also wrote the screenplay for the feature film version of Rumble Fish with director Francis Ford Coppola. In 1988 Hinton received the first Young Adult Services Division/ School Library Journal Author Award from the American Library Association.

Hinton has not produced as much work as other young adult novelists, but that has not prevented her from becoming a consistent favorite with her audience. Two of the movies adapted from her books, Tex and The Outsiders, were filmed in response to suggestions from young readers.

Even though she is no longer a teenager involved in the world about which she writes, Hinton believes that she is suited to writing adolescent fiction: "I don't think I have a masterpiece in me, but I do know I'm writing well in the area I choose to write in," she commented to Dave Smith of the Los Angeles Times. "I understand kids and I really like them. And I have a very good memory. I remember exactly what it was like to be a teenager that nobody listened to or paid attention to or wanted around. I mean, it wasn't like that with my own family, but I knew a lot of kids like that and hung around with them.… Somehow I always understood them. They were my type."

In 1995 Hinton published two books for younger readers, Puppy Sister and Big David, Little David, her first picture book. The intensely private Hinton lives in northern California with her husband and son, Nicholas David.

For More Information

Daly, Jay. Presenting S. E. Hinton. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987.

Wilson, Antoine. S. E. Hinton. New York: Rosen Pub. Group, 2002.

User Contributions:

Thanks fo all the help what did you major in . Is this a re liable soce ? I'm to read this book in class so0on!!!!!!!
sincerly Havok
Hey! I just wanted to add that when se hinton was younger sh did dressage and she did jump and that is what led her to wanting to be a cattle rancher.
some sites say she was born in 1948 this one says 1950- anyone know which one
Rumble Fish is one the best books i have read! i can't wait to read the others!!!!! lol
Kuhnle =D
I love all of S.E. Hinton's books they are truly amazing.

I would recommend all of her books to anyone.
the outsiders was the best book she wrote,even though i havent read any of her other books
Kayla Crim
I love S. E. Hinton! Her book "The Outsiders" is amazing! It reaches out to the younger generation, which I love, and I just think that's amazing! I am a huge fan, and I am writing a report on her. I want to know if this is a reliable source?
S E Hinton is a world author of literature and I like her book called The Outsider and if you ever want to know a answer get her book.?
i love your books! i have a future career in writingg and i have to say your writingg has encouraged me to be just like you i feel inspired by your work and it just shows how much talent a girl can have thank you!
Hey people, I was wondering, dose anyone know what influenced her to write realistic fiction? I have no clue.
Dose anyone know what kind of writer S.E. Hinton say she is ?
What were her hobbies besides writing?? anybody know?
Your wrong!!! She didn't write the book becuase her dad had cnacer. She got inspired to write the book after her friend was beaten up after walking back from the movies.
Jhudaea Payton
The Outsiders was by far one of the best books of young adult literature I've ever read.
She was born 1948 for the people that need to know the correct date of birth
I had no idea she wrote children's books! it's cool when a popular writer includes the younger generation, wish I knew about it sooner!

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