I was terribly saddened to learn of the death of Natalie Babbitt. In the days when I lived in Providence, Rhode Island, we became good friends.
She had a very rich talent, but was utterly modest, indeed painfully (to me) self-effacing about her skills. She did not attend the award ceremony when she won (1971) a Newbery Honor for Knee-knock Rise. “How come you didn’t go?” I asked her. “I was told it wasn’t important.”
As I knew her—and everyone knows such a richly complex person in a different way—she presented herself as an artist, and then a writer. “I never start writing until I have the complete book in my head,” she once told me. Yet she would tell me about endless discussions with her long-time editor, Michael Di Capua, about one word in her text.
I would try to encourage her to write more. “Why should I?” she replied. “I’ll never write anything as good as Tuck Everlasting.” Think of that book, and then consider another remark she once made to me: “People are always alone.” Yet she had a sly, sharp, and satiric sense of humor.
Loyal? When I knew her, she watched, on television, every—every—Boston Red Sox game.
Our homes in Providence were at opposite ends of beautiful Benefit Street, and we often met for lunch, or at her house. We never met at my house, because, as she said, “Ladies don’t do that.” Indeed, when I went west to Colorado, one of the last things she said to me was, “Just know I won’t call or write. Ladies don’t call gentlemen.” She didn’t.
She was quite a lady.
2 thoughts on “Remembering Natalie Babbitt”
What a lovely tribute to a dear friend and great author. I am so sad to learn of her passing.
TUCK EVERLASTING is pitch-perfect book. She’s left her legacy … thank you for these memories and this peek into her life and values.