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Emma Gelders Sterne

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Emma Gelders Sterne at a peace demonstration in 1966
Emma Gelders Sterne at a peace demonstration in 1966

Emma Gelders Sterne (1894–1971) was an author of children's books. She contributed to publisher Cupples & Leon's "All About" series, including All About Peter Pan.

Sterne's book All About Peter Pan
Sterne's book All About Peter Pan

She was born on May 13, 1894, to Louis Gelders, a restauranteur, and Blanche Loeb. She grew up on nearby Red Mountain. She wrote for both her high school and college literary magazines, and graduated from Smith College in 1916. Back in Birmingham, she got involved in the women's suffrage movement, started a school for delinquent children, and became a newspaper columnist focusing on "women's issues".

In 1917, she married Roy M. Sterne, a lawyer. They had two daughters, Ann and Barbara, and moved to New York. She sold her first story in May 1923, and quickly produced two All About books. She studied writing at Columbia University and the New School for Social Research. She joined the ACLU, the NAACP, and the Democratic party, and identified herself as an atheist, raising concerns among her family and friends that she had become a Communist.

She continued writing for the rest of her life, focusing on history and children's literature, which she managed to combine in her historical adaptations for children, such as the legends of King Arthur, the biography Amarantha Gay, M.D., or Long Black Schooner: The Voyage of the Amistad. Topics related to social justice, such as Native American history and slavery, were recurring themes in her 44 books.

From 1959 to 1966, she and her younger daughter Barbara Lindsay wrote the Kathy Martin series (about a nurse and amateur sleuth) of young adult novels, published under the pseudonyms of Emily Brown (Sterne) and Josephine James.

She died in San Jose, California on August 29, 1971.

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