Natalie Babbitt, the author of the beloved children’s novel “Tuck Everlasting,” has died after battling cancer. She was 84 years old. Babbitt, who also was an illustrator, had been diagnosed with lung cancer recently and died at her home in Hamden on Monday, said her husband, Samuel Fisher Babbitt.
He described her as a “remarkable” and “loving and wonderful” woman who left her mark in the literary world with her stories. “She once said that her ambition was just to leave a little scratch on the rock,” he said. “I think she did that with `Tuck Everlasting’.
Babbitt’s literary career started in 1966, when she illustrated a children’s book written by her husband and was encouraged by its editor to continue writing and illustrating children’s books herself. She would go on to write and illustrate dozens of books but was perhaps best known for “Tuck Everlasting.” The 1975 novel is about a girl who stumbles onto a mysterious family that’s discovered a magical spring that gives eternal life.
With its themes of immortality, aging and death, the novel was named an American Library Association notable book. It has been adapted into two movies, including a 2002 Disney film, and a Broadway play that had a brief run this year. Among the literary honors Babbitt received was a Newbery Honor for her 1971 book “Knee-Knock Rise” and the inaugural E.B. White Award for achievement in children’s literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2013.
Babbitt was born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1932 and attended Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She and her husband have three grown children and three grandchildren.