Susan Eloise Hinton (born July 22, 1948) is an American writer best known for her young-adult novels set in Oklahoma, especially The Outsiders, which she wrote during high school. In 1988 she received the inaugural Margaret Edwards Award from the American Library Association for her cumulative contribution in writing for teens.
While still in her teens, Hinton became a household name as the author of The Outsiders, her first and most popular novel, set in Oklahoma in the 1960s. She began writing it in 1965. The book was inspired by two rival gangs at her school, Will Rogers High School, the Greasers and the Socs, and her desire to show sympathy toward the Greasers by writing from their point of view. It was published by Viking Press in 1967, during her freshman year at the University of Tulsa. Since then, the book has sold more than 14 million copies and still sells more than 500,000 a year.
Hinton's publisher suggested she use her initials instead of her feminine given names so that the very first male book reviewers would not dismiss the novel because its author was female. After the success of The Outsiders, Hinton chose to continue writing and publishing using her initials, because she did not want to lose what she had made famous, and to allow her to keep her private and public lives separate.
Hinton states that she is a private person. She has revealed, however, that she enjoys reading (Jane Austen, Mary Renault, and F. Scott Fitzgerald), writing, taking classes at the local university, and horseback riding.
She currently resides with her husband David Inhofe, a software engineer, whom she married in the summer of 1970 after meeting him in her freshman biology class at college. In August 1983, they became parents to Nicolas David Inhofe, who has worked as a sound effects recordist on the movie Ice Age: The Meltdown.
Film adaptations of The Outsiders (March 1983) and Rumble Fish (October 1983) were both directed by Francis Ford Coppola; Hinton co-wrote the script for Rumble Fish with Coppola. Also adapted to film were Tex (1982), directed by Tim Hunter, and That Was Then... This Is Now (1985), directed by Christopher Cain. Hinton herself acted as a location scout, and she had cameo roles in three of the four films. She plays a nurse in Dallas's hospital room in The Outsiders. In Tex, she is the typing teacher. She also appears as a prostitute propositioning Rusty James in Rumble Fish. In 2009, Hinton portrayed the school principal in The Legend of Billy Fail.
Awards and honors
Hinton received the inaugural 1988 Margaret A. Edwards Award from the American YA librarians, citing her first four YA novels, which had been published from 1967 to 1979 and adapted as films from 1982 to 1985. The annual award recognizes one author of books published in the U.S., and specified works "taken to heart by young adults over a period of years, providing an 'authentic voice that continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions, giving insight into their lives'." The librarians noted that in reading Hinton's novels "a young adult may explore the need for independence and simultaneously the need for loyalty and belonging, the need to care for others, and the need to be cared for by them."
In 1992 she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa by the University of Tulsa, and in 1998 she was inducted into the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame at the Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers of Oklahoma State University-Tulsa.
Young adult novels
The five YA novels, her first books published, are Hinton's works most widely held in WorldCat libraries. All are set in Oklahoma.
- The Outsiders (1967)
- That Was Then, This Is Now (1971)
- Rumble Fish (1975)
- Tex (1979)
- Taming the Star Runner (1988)
- Big David, Little David, illustrated by Alan Daniel (1995), picture book
- The Puppy Sister illus. Jacqueline Rogers (1995), chapter book
- Hawkes Harbor (2004), novel
- Some of Tim's Stories (2007), short stories
- Great Women Writers, Rita Dove, S.E. Hinton, and Maya Angelou (Princeton NJ: Hacienda Productions, 1999), DVD video — autobiographical accounts by the three authors