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Shel Silverstein

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Shel Silverstein
BornSheldon Allan Silverstein
September 25, 1930(1930-09-25)
Chicago, Illinois
DiedMay 10, 1999(1999-05-10) (aged 68)
Key West, Florida
Resting placeWestlawn Cemetery
Norridge, Illinois
GenresChildren's fiction
Black comedy
Notable work(s)Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974)
The Giving Tree (1964)
"A Boy Named Sue" (1969)


Sheldon Allan "Shel" Silverstein (September 25, 1930 – May 10, 1999) was an American writer, poet, singer-songwriter, musician, composer, cartoonist, screenwriter, and a children's author who is mostly known for his children's book The Giving Tree. He has won two Grammy Awards.

Although he’s most known for his children’s poetry, he also was good at many other things. In the 1950s, while he was serving in the U.S. armed forces, Silverstein drew cartoons for the Pacific Stars and Stripes, an American military newspaper. He started writing and drawing cartoons for Playboy magazine in 1952.

Shel Silverstein also wrote plays. It was Ursula Nordstrom, a book editor, who suggested that he should write for children.


Silverstein’s first book of poetry, Don’t Bump the Glump! and Other Fantasies, was published in 1964. He’s most well-known for his books A Light in the Attic, The Giving Tree, and Where the Sidewalk Ends. He has been compared to other writers, like A. A. Milne, Edward Lear, and Dr. Seuss. Shel Silverstein won multiple awards for his children’s poetry books. Where the Sidewalk Ends won the Michigan Young Readers’ Award in 1981, and Silverstein also won the George C. Stone Center for Children’s Books Award twice in 1984. Two books of poetry were published after Shel Silverstein’s death, Runny Babbit and Every Thing on It.


Silverstein also had success writing songs. Some of his poetry was based off of songs he had written.

"A Boy Named Sue" is a song written by Silverstein that was first made popular by Johnny Cash in 1969. That same year Silverstein also recorded it as a single on an album on RCA Records. It was produced by Chet Atkins.

Personal life and death

He was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in both Chicago and in Florida. He died in Key West, Florida on May 10, 1999 after having a heart attack. He was 68 years old.[1] However, Silverstein’s poetry is still enjoyed today.


  1. "Shel Silverstein." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Vol. 19. Detroit: Gale, 1999. Biography in Context. Web. 1 Apr. 2014.
  2. Carlson, Ann D. "Silverstein, Shel." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2014. Web. 1 Apr. 2014.

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