Betsy Cromer Byars (born August 7, 1928) is an American author of children's books. Her novel Summer of the Swans won the 1971 Newbery Medal. She has also received a National Book Award in category Children's Fiction for The Night Swimmers (1980) and an Edgar Award for Wanted … Mud Blossom (1991).
Byars has been called “one of the ten best writers for children in the world” by Nancy Chambers, editor of the British literary journal Signal, and in 1987 Byars received the Regina Medal for lifetime achievement from the Catholic Library Association. Due to the popularity of her books with children, she has also been listed as one of the Educational Paperback Association's top 100 authors.
Byars was born Betsy Cromer August 7, 1928, in Charlotte, North Carolina to George Guy, a cotton mill executive, and Nan (née Rugheimer) Cromer, a homemaker. Her early childhood was spent during the Great Depression. She attended Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, from 1946 to 1948, before transferring to Queens College in Charlotte, where she graduated in 1950 with a bachelor's degree in English.
After graduating, Cromer met Edward Ford Byars, a graduate student in engineering at Clemson University, and they married on June 24, 1950. They had three daughters and a son between 1951 and 1958: Laurie, Betsy Ann, Nan, and Guy. In 1956, the family moved from Clemson, South Carolina to Urbana, Illinois where Edward pursued further graduate work at the University of Illinois, eventually becoming a professor of engineering. While her husband was busy during the day with his studies, Betsy began writing for magazines. Her work was eventually featured in The Saturday Evening Post, Look, Everywoman's Magazine, and TV Guide. Her first novel, Clementine, was published in 1962.
Betsy and Ed Byars are both licensed aircraft pilots and live on an airstrip in Seneca, South Carolina, the bottom floor of their house being a hangar.
Daughters Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers are also children's writers, and the three of them are currently (as of February 2009) working on their fourth book together.[