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Biography

Allan W. Eckert is an historian, naturalist, novelist, poet, screenwriter and playwright.  The author of thirty-nine published books, he has been nominated on seven separate occasions for the Pulitzer Prize in literature and, in 1985, was recipient of an honorary degree as Doctor of Humane Letters from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.  In 1998 he received his second honorary doctorate, also in Humane Letters, from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. In addition to his books, he has written and had published over 150 articles, essays, and short stories, as well as considerable poetry, a major outdoor drama, and screenplays for several movies.

Most noted for his historical and natural history books, Dr. Eckert's works have been translated into thirteen foreign languages around the world.  A number of his books have been selections of Reader's Digest Condensed Books and several have been major book club selections.  The seven of his books that have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in literature include A Time of Terror: The Great Dayton Flood (history), Wild Season (fiction), The Silent Sky (fiction), The Frontiersmen (history), Wilderness Empire (history), The Conquerors (history), and A Sorrow in Our Heart: The Life of Tecumseh (biography).

Dr. Eckert's varied writing includes over 225 television shows which he wrote for the renowned Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom series and for this writing he received, in 1970, an Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in the category of outstanding program achievement.  He is playwright of the acclaimed outdoor drama entitled Tecumseh! which, in 1997, celebrated its 25th year of production at the multi-million-dollar Sugarloaf Mountain Amphitheater near Chillicothe, Ohio, and which has been described as the finest outdoor theater production in America.  Over that quarter-century, the production has been attended by more than two million people.  For this drama and his other writings, he received from the Scioto Society, in 1987 the Second Annual Silver Arrow Humanitarian Award "for his contributions to the human spirit and knowledge as an author, novelist, playwright, naturalist and historian."

Dr. Eckert's best known historical narrative, The Frontiersmen, from which he adapted his drama, Tecumseh!, won him the Ohioana Library Association Book-of-the-Year Award in 1968.  In that same year, the Chicago-based national literary society, The Friends of American Writers, presented him with its highest award of the year for The Frontiersmen and Wild Season -- the first time in that organization's forty-year history of awarding literary prizes that it could not decide between two books by the same author and therefore awarded him first prize for both.  He also received, for his book Incident at Hawk's Hill, the Newbery Honor Book Award -- highest award for juvenile literature in America.  Again for Incident at Hawk's Hill, in 1976 he accepted, in person in Vienna, the Austrian Juvenile Book-of-the-Year Award -- the first time this prize was ever awarded to a non-Austrian.  This same book brought him the Best Book of the Year Award from Claremont Colleges in California and it was also made into a two-part television movie by Walt Disney under the title The Boy Who Talked to Badgers.  Now, a quarter century after that book's publication, Dr. Eckert has written a sequel entitled Return to Hawk's Hill, which was published in May, 1998.  This will be a trilogy, with the third volume, in progress, entitled The Treasure in Hawk's Hill.

His widely-acclaimed series of historical narratives entitled The Winning of America consists of six volumes, including The Frontiersmen, Wilderness Empire, The Conquerors, The Wilderness War, Gateway to Empire, and Twilight of Empire.  For this series Dr. Eckert, in 1985, was presented the Americanism Award by the Daniel Boone Foundation, and the governor of Kentucky, late in 1987, bestowed upon him the status of honorary resident of that state and conferred upon him its highest honor, commissioning him a Kentucky Colonel.  In 1995, his book That Dark and Bloody River: Chronicles of the Ohio River Valley was named runner-up for the Spur Award of the Western Writers of America.  In 1997, Dr. Eckert was recipient of the Writer of the Year Award bestowed for his entire body of work by the National Popular Culture Association.

In respect to films, three of Dr. Eckert's book, Incident at Hawk's Hill, was adapted into a two-part television movie in 1974 by Walt Disney Productions.  His screenplays include "The Legend of Koo-Tan", Don Meier Productions, 1971; "Wild Journey", 1972, Don Meier Productions; "The Kentucky Pioneers", 1972, Encyclopedia Britannica Productions; and "George Rogers Clark", 1973, Jerry Bean Productions.

In recent years Dr. Eckert's writings have included a series of children's fantasy adventures similar to the C.S. Lewis Chronicles of Narnia and generally entitled The Mesmerian Annals, which thus far includes two published works -- The Dark Green Tunnel and The Wand.  Two others of the series in progress are The Phantom Crystal and The Witching Well.

A noted American naturalist, Dr. Eckert has specialized, in addition to historical writing, in writing about natural history subjects.  He has a keen interest in the natural history subjects of geology, lepidopterology, entomology, ornithology, herpetology, paleontology, archaeology, anthropology, mineralogy, and allied fields.  Among his important natural history writings are his companion books, The Owls of North America and The Wading Birds of North America.  He has also written a series of four volumes, published in 1987 by Harper & Row, called Earth Treasures -- a guide to over 5,000 sites in the contiguous United States where the amateur collector can find excellent minerals, rocks and fossils.  His major definitive work on the gemstone opal, entitled The World of Opals was published by John Wiley & Sons in October, 1997. In its review of this book, Lapidary Journal said, 'A book that all opal lovers have been waiting for...this is one of the most complete books that has ever been published for any gemstone."

Dr. Eckert, who was born in Buffalo, New York, and raised in the Chicago area, was graduated (1948) from Leyden Community High School in Franklin Park, Illinois, and, after four years in the United States Air Force, attended the University of Dayton (Ohio) and The Ohio State University  He was founder and chairman of the board of the Lemon Bay Conservancy in Englewood, Florida, an organization which preserves wildlife and estuarial systems, and he is a life member and former trustee of the Dayton (Ohio) Museum of Natural History and similarly is a life member of the Mazon Creek Paleontological Society.  He is a member of the American Gemcutters Society and a consultant for La Salle Extension University in Chicago.  He also designed and wrote for Writer's Digest magazine their popular correspondence courses entitled The Writer's Digest Course in Article Writing and The Writer's Digest Course in Short Story Writing. 

In 1999, tthe Ohioana Library Association, in celebration of its 70th anniversary, invited all Ohioans to vote for their “all time favorite Ohio authors and their books.” Ballots were sent to all public libraries in Ohio and many Ohio newspapers also participated in the event. Dr. Eckert's book The Frontiersmen was selected as Ohioans’ favorite book “About Ohio or an Ohioan.” Dr. Eckert was himself selected as Ohio’s favorite author in the category of “About Ohio or an Ohioan,” and in the principal category of "Overall Favorite Ohio Writer of All Time," the top honor was resulted in a tie -- shared by Toni Morrison and Dr. Eckert.

Since 1967, Dr. Eckert has been listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who International, Who's Who in the Midwest, Who's Who in the Southeast, Who's Who in Entertainment, Contemporary Authors, and Something About the Author Autobiography Series.

He and his wife, Nancy, currently live in Bellefontaine, Ohio.

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